Category Archives: Fine Dining

Kazuya

Kazuya is a very special fine dining restaurant located at the top of Symonds Street, Auckland in a strip of otherwise cheap and cheerful restaurants, takeaway outlets and a few retail shops.  The front of the restaurant consists of a white window displaying the menu and gives very little hint of what is to be found inside.

The dining room is small, cosy and intimate.  The seating is cleverly divided by booths which allow you to feel like you’re ensconced in your own private space.

The food itself is a fusion of European and Japanese cuisines which is a result of chef Kazuya Yamauchi’s background growing up in Japan and then travelling around Europe as part of his role at Aquapazza, a prominent Italian restaurant in Tokyo.

I’ve been to Kazya twice, the first time with one other person and the second time in a group of six.  When we dined in the group of six, the wait staff remembered my husband and I and gave us some special menu options.  We were amazed that they remembered us, our last visit was around eight months ago, but this is a demonstration of the level of service at this establishment.

On our most recent visit two of our group had the degustation menu of 11 courses including an amuse bouche, cheese, sorbet, dessert and petites fours.  On top of this you also get soft, chewy homemade bread and cheese sticks along with all the meat and seafood dishes. The other four members of our party had the signature seven course menu which also included a complimentary amuse bouche, the bread, dessert and petites fours and again a selection of meat and seafood dishes.

There were too many different dishes to list here and all of the food was delicious, full of flavour, fresh and beautifully presented with a very high level of attention to detail.

The standouts of the meal were the king crab with ratatouille and horseradish cream, an usual combination that went together perfectly, the sweet, tender crab meat, the rich silky cream and the freshness of the ratatouille.  The Wakanui grain fed beef with truffle, potato puree and jus was also a highlight, the beef looks rare but is in fact cooked to medium, juicy, melt in the mouth and tender.  And finally, one of the petites fours, a white chocolate with popping candy inside, was a surprising and delightfully playful way to end a stunning meal.

The wine list is top rate but we made the most of being in a Japanese restaurant and tried a range of sakes, including the very easy to drink Mio sparkling sake and three different kinds of dry sake all recommended by the very knowledgeable and professional sommelier.

I’ve already mentioned the level of service but it is truly something special.  The staff are all highly knowledgeable about the food and drinks they are serving and there are little touches including a small package of cookies given to each female in the party before you leave and a special, complimentary little cake and a Polaroid photo to take home if you’re celebrating a special occasion.  All of these touches on top of the amazing food, wine and sake make Kazuya the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.  And if you don’t have a special occasion, dining at Kazuya makes the evening a special occasion.

http://www.kazuya.co.nz

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O’Connell St Bistro

O’Connell St Bistro is an intimate fine dining restaurant located on O’Connell St in Auckland.  It has been running for 16 years and regularly features in Metro magazine’s Top 50 restaurants.

The dining space is cosy and intimate but with enough room between tables to allow a sense of privacy when talking to your dining companions.

We arrived early and took a seat at the bar, ordering a couple of pre dinner drinks and also receiving a complimentary plate of olives marinated with garlic and rosemary.

We ordered a range of entrees to share including the crispy fried squid with pickled vegetable, herb salad and wasabi mayo; brik pastry wrapped crayfish with braised leeks, smoked leek and creamed potato; chicken liver parfait with calvados jelly, apple and fig chutney and warmed brioche loaf and the oyster special.  All the entrees we delicious but the standout was the crayfish dish, the pastry was crisp and light, the crayfish perfectly cooked and it was all offset by the creamy texture of the potatoes and smoky leeks.

For mains, we ordered the fresh market fish (line caught snapper) with scampi risotto, fennel and lemon beurre blanc; braised short rib of beef with agria mash, baby carrots and swedes and panko crumbed shortbreads; eye fillet of beef with pomme galettes, snails, red wine confit shallots, mustard and kawa kawa butter, white bait fritters and the seared new season scallops with almond purée, chorizo, crispy Serrano ham and Pedro Ximenez sherry reduction.   My line caught snapper was perfectly cooked and the risotto and beurre blanc rich and creamy but I really enjoyed my taste of the braised short rib, the meat was so meltingly tender that it just fell apart when stabbed with a fork.

For dessert we again ordered some dishes to share and got the dulcey chocolate mousse, salted caramel and banana ice cream; dark chocolate fondant with orange jelly and earl grey ice cream; and the warm rhubarb and mango with vanilla ice cream, puff pastry lattice, macadamia and strawberry champagne sorbet.  Our waiter recommended the wine match for each dessert and my glass of Cloudy Bay late harvest Riesling 2007 perfectly complimented the sweetness and saltiness of the dulcey chocolate mousse.

O’Connell St Bistro is a very special restaurant with excellent wait staff and outstanding food.