Rakuten

Another quick bite at a Japanese restaurant in town. Rakuten is hidden between Albert and Hobson Street (you could say). Nice place, and lunch menu special is reasonable. I think this dish below was $12. Quiet surrounding and friendly staff. If you want a quick bite, worth trying.

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Katsu Don (Chicken)

Tanto

Once in a while I will pop into Epsom and you will be pleasantly surprised with the meals at Tanto. It’s now open on Saturday for lunch. The meals are carefully presented and it’s not too heavy. They have a decent pricing, I believe around $15 or less, but don’t expect large portions. We ordered the meals below. These dishes are great – no complaints! The quality is there.

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Sauce Katsu on Rice

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Teriyaki Salmon on Rice

Daikoku Ramen @ Victoria Street

Another rainy day in Auckland, and another attempt to find parking in the CBD for good Ramen. It’s hard to find it these days, I mean the ramen places, not parking – that’s just normal now. Aucklanders, give me some options, cause this is the only one I usually go to.

Anyway, for any Japanese feed, there’s always an urge for “sides”. So this place has it all, extra corn, extra this, extra that. It’s even got sushi and rice options if you’re sick of ramen. We ordered the usual, tonkotsu and tonkotsu-shoyu ramen, both $10 each. Extras are fried rice $4 and gyoza $6.50. It’s not gonna break the bank so I like this place. I do wish the place was a little brighter, not sure what’s the deal with Japanese dining places and darkness. I can think similar places for the dungeon-like decor i.e. Heizo and Renkon (Parnell).

The ramens are always a favourite, the flavours of the soup is what I always go for. Don’t expect a huge portion but I think it’s enough. If you’re hungry – get the extras. I guess that’s why they’re there! The fried rice and gyoza – can’t complain. Also, the staff are friendly.

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Tonkotsu Ramen

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Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen

 

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Fried Rice

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Gyoza

Heizo Teppanyaki Restaurant

Hidden in Newmarket is this delightful Teppanyaki restaurant. If you’re lucky enough to be in Newmarket on a week day, try this place out. It’s a little small and dark but that’s no drama. I’m mighty impressed with the quality of food for a $15 lunch plate. I’m only focusing on the lunch plates, I believe there are 6 sets (chicken, salmon, seafood, beef patty, eye fillet and scotch fillet).

We tried the chicken and scotch fillet lunch plate. The sides include rice, salad and miso soup. The lunch plates include the meat, broccoli, potatoes and tomato. Yum yum sauce is offered, so accept this good gesture from the cook. This is a good wholesome meal for $15. Worth a try if you’re having lunch in Newmarket… on a weekday. 🙂

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Chicken Lunch Plate

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Scotch Fillet Lunch Plate

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Sides

 

Hokkaido Restaurant & Bar

Hokkaido Restaurant & Bar is located in Lunn Ave where all the new shops are. Looking from outside, it is not bad. So, went in and gave it a try.

Sashimi (M) – $25 for 15 pieces.

Chan Chan Yaki – $18.50.

Sukiyaki Pot – $13.90.

Overall, this place is OK. The sashimi and sukiyaki pot was not bad tasting. But very disappointed with the chan chan yaki, which didn’t taste special and practically not much salmon, but a lot of cabbage.

The portion is kinda small for the price, so don’t expect value for money. I won’t be coming back. Rating = 5/10.

Bien (Newmarket)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (including the Chinese version)! I have returned from my long holiday and am going to post my first review for 2012. Enjoy.

Bien has several franchises. I tried out the Newmarket branch on a Thursday night. It’s quiet but can’t complain, the bar next door has outdoor music – so free entertainment? I have to admit the pricing is reasonable, not overpriced. You’d just need to find a parking if driving to Newmarket. Here are some samples.

Tuna Tomato Petite Salad – $4.00.

Salmon Sushi – $3.00 for two pieces.

Spicy Chicken Don – $11.00.

Lemon Grass Chicken Don – $11.00.

Salad and sushi roll are good small bites – excellent as entres. The chicken dons are not bad as well, I preferred the spicy chicken don. Good value! Bien (Newmarket) is definitely worth a try. Rating 8.5/10.

Daikoku Quay Street Teppanyaki

This is an old one, but worth posting. Perhaps things might have changed – new owner etc, but here goes. I’m not a frequent Teppanyaki  guy so this was a “treat”. This place is very near to Britomart on Quay Street. There was a lunch special, so prices may be different during dinner time. Some samples:

Cooked in real time.

Salmon Sashimi ($15).

Lunch Time Special – beef? ($13.80).

Gourmet Lunch ($23.50).

Salad and Miso Soup.

Overall, pricing is the usual Japanese price. Kinda expensive. But the gourmet lunch (beef) was very nice especially the yum yum sauce. Salmon sashimi is great and the sides are good too. The lunch special (beef) was kinda average but not horrible.

Worth trying to see the “show”. Expect high-ish prices for the food. Rating = 7/10.

Sakebar Nippon

Sakebar Nippon is located in Epsom, very close to ASB showgrounds. The reason I was at this place, because I wanted an alternative to KK Restaurant nearby.

First impression for this place; loud drums banging and some Japanese guy saying something when you or anyone comes into the door (welcoming?), and good-looking chicks. 🙂

Some samples below:

Salmon & Avocado Sushi ($14).

Karaage Chicken ($9).

Okonomiyaki ($12).

Grilled Prawn Skewer ($8).

Overall, the range is good. Pricing is a little high but of good quality I think. The environment is noisy and lively. The food is tasty especially the salmon & avocado sushi roll. Be prepared to pay $25 per head or more, since the portions are not huge. Worth a try.

Rating = 9/10.

Sushi Train

Sushi Train. I’ve been told about this place many times. People like it. So, I had to check it out. It’s located in the Viaduct.  First impression, it looks quite cool with the conveyor belt with sushi etc on it. But remember, parking is hard to find around here – in fact, might be better to pay. I parked somewhere along Custom Street near Tepid Baths (it was free at night) and I noticed something strange. Every 4th or 5th car had a broken window.  As if the thief went on a rampage, so beware if you do walk or park around Custom Street. Anyway, samples below from Sushi Train:

Eel on Rice ($12)

  

Yellow plate – $4.50

Blue plate – $3.50

Red plate – $5.50

The dishes have different prices from $3.50 to $7.50 depending on which plate colour you choose. I thought the variety was somewhat average. In fact, the best thing to do here is to order. So, the concept of choosing the dishes from the “train” is kinda pointless. If I wanted variety (immediately that is), I’d rather go to Umi Sushi at Atrium. Sushi Train just seemed pathetic compared to it.

However, if you do happen to pass by and wanted to try it out. I’d say go for the “Chef’s recommendation,” for e.g. grilled scallop and grilled salmon. It’s also open at night compared to Umi Sushi.

My rating is 6/10. Sushi Train lacks in variety, especially since this is suppose to be a “sushi train”. The staff seemed distracted at times on my visit there, so service was so-so. If you want sushi with variety, save your money and go for lunch at Umi Sushi in the Atrium.

Musashi Japanese Cuisine

OK – I’ve crossed the bridge again. So, a very rare occassion.  There is this place in Milford (North Shore). I believe it used to be called Eiji. It’s now called Musashi Restaurant. The other branch is in St Heliers. It is a bit far to go for Japanese, but thanks to their Entertainment Book voucher, this place was worth the visit. Some samples below:

Soft Shell Crab Karaage ($12.50)

Salmon Hooba Zen ($15).


Salmon Hooba Zen – zoomed in ($15).

Chicken Kushi Katsu Zen ($15).

To be honest, the variety in the lunch dishes are awesome. There is just so many side dishes. It’s great value for money, staff is great and depending on the dish you buy, you get to see or do some “action”. Presentation is great!

Excellent place. Highly recommended, rating = 9/10.

Genzui Ramen Bar

I forgot to apologise in my last post for not posting regularly, I’ve been lazy. Typical excuse. But it’s holiday time for me now, so perhaps more time for me to post some of my material. Here’s a good place that I strongly recommend, Genzui Ramen Bar. It’s next to the lobby area at the Crowne Plaza on Albert St. It’s a small place but the food packs a good flavour and it’s cheap!

Some samples below:

Spicy Chicken Don.

Shoyu Ramen,

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Miso Katsu Chicken Don.

Grilled Squid with Miso Paste.

Most rice and ramen dishes hover around $10, portion is good, and taste is great. I don’t normally get the entres or sides, but it’s a bonus since the dishes are quite affordable. Staff is friendly. My favourite dishes here are the spicy chicken don and the curry katsu chicken don. Damn great place, and if they keep it up (the prices and the flavour), they are hard to beat.

My rating 9.5/10. Good on ya! Oh Merry Christmas BTW.