Tuesday, April 28

Food Review: Masu

Cuisine: Japanese/Fusion
Price: Around $20-40 a dish
Location: 90 Federal Street, Auckland
Website: https://www.skycityauckland.co.nz/restaurants/masu/

Masu is one of the tightly packaged, casual smart restaurants that epitomise Sky City. Masu serves Japanese, with a just a hint of European fusion from its three section kitchen: sushi and sashimi, the grill and the kitchen.
The wooden heavy decor is tinged with a hint of glitz. It's very much Sky City, and borders on the uppity. The bar greets you on your way in, with its impressive choice of drinks. There are dozens of varieties of saki, not to mention Japanese fruit liqueurs and whiskys.

As mentioned the kitchen is split into three. The sushi bar serves classic as well as traditional sushi and sashimi, the kitchen includes tempura and soups and finally the grill plates beef fillet and aubergine. I found the menu to be somewhat convoluted, with it unclear what items complement each other. That said, ordering at random will serve, though you'll find there is definitely a disparity in the quality.

Starting from the top, the sushi and sashimi are some of the best in Auckland, and due to Masu's central location and relaxed atmosphere it is my favourite spot for sushi. The Deluxe Nigiri Selection is a conduit for the chefs to experiment, with nigiri such as lightly grilled beef with shreds of liver, filling your hungry soul with surprised glee. The choice fish is incredibly delicate on the tongue and almost melts in the mouth. I've eaten an entire meal only from the sushi bar and been left mesmerised.

The selection from the kitchen reads the most uninspired. Despite this the cloudy bay clams were refreshing, with the buttery juices lifted with a hint of lime. The tempura was a real gem. Imagine fish from your local chippy, fried in little crispy rice parcels, without a hint of oiliness and all the freshness of the fish intact. We couldn't get enough of these perfect parcels.

The grill is perhaps the most eye catching part of the menu, and perhaps for good reason. The glazed aubergine was perfect. I have a love affair with aubergine, and Masu took me to heaven. The flesh was almost creamy, the skin slightly burnt lending a phantom of bitterness to the sweet glaze.
The hearty pork ribs were also glazed well, but unfortunately the flesh was noticeably dry.

If I was to rate Masu only on the food, I'd easily rate it as one of my favourite restaurants. However it falters on two points.
The restaurant is distractingly loud during evenings, with the dozens of diners packed into the restaurant and distressingly bland rock music in the background. At my last dinner there, I found it hard to hear my dining companion.
Another casualty of the packed restaurant are the staff, who are more inattentive than is reasonable. Though this is noticeably due to them rushing around, trying to satisfy the large number of diners. Please hire more servers Masu!

The food at Masu is top notch, making it my favourite sushi haunt. The majority of the food is inspired, and some is even exceptional. Unfortunately due to the din of insipid rock music, the crowded restaurant and inattentive staff means Masu falls slightly short.