A Japanese girlfriend suggested this little gem out in Browns Bay so judging the Cheap Eats special in Metro magazine provided a good excuse to check it out and see if it could be a contender for this year’s Top 100. It certainly was.
Having lived in Japan I am always looking for truly authentic places and this would now have to be firmly planted in my Top 5 around Auckland. The interior is fun and the staff young and friendly – always lovely to go to a Cheap Eat with a great vibe as well as fantastic food.
We ordered the Agedashi Tofu ($7), the Tuna Avo ($9.50), the Chikuzen-ni ($7) and the Shoyu Ramen ($9.50) and all were great for different reasons.
The Tuna Avo was outstanding with beautiful glisteningly fresh cubes of raw tuna and perfectly ripe avocado with mesculun, fine strips of nori and exactly the right amount of soy and wasabi to dress it. It was a wonderful, perfectly balanced mix of tastes and textures.
The Agedashi tofu was one of the most delicate and perfectly flavoured examples of this dish I have had in Auckland. The sauce was excellent and the texture of the tofu was exactly right.
Although probably not everyone’s favourite, I loved the Chikuzen-ni. It really reminds me of the kind of thing I was often served in Japanese people’s homes. The flavours are simple but I love the mix of lotus root, shitake, carrots, bamboo shoots, chicken, potato and a kind of oden all simmered in a home style broth. Not huge flavours but a subtlety and warmth that feels like comfort food at its best.
The Shoyu Ramen was exactly how it should be with charshu roast pork, egg, bamboo shoots, bok choy, noodles and spring onion and that wonderful home-style soy flavoured stock – I could have sworn I was in a ramen shop in Tokyo. Only thing for me with ramen is that the servings are so enormous I tire slightly of the same flavour by the end of it. More to do with my short culinary attention span than any fault of the dish or execution! I did end up asking for some Ichimi Togarashi to spice it up in the end.
Browns Bay is not close to where I live at all, but I would not hesitate to jump in the car and make the trek out to make my way through more of this menu. Definitely worth the drive. Go there. Soon.