Our 2014 Restaurant of the Year is Masu
When expat chef Nic Watt came home after years running some of the finest contemporary Japanese restaurants in the world, he knew exactly what he wanted and he had the smarts to get it. SkyCity (which owns all the Federal St eateries) poured $7 million into Watt’s vision, and that allowed him to get pretty much everything just so: the crockery, furniture, décor, the standard of service (led by the inestimable Matthew Aitchison, formerly of The French Café) and most of all the food.
Masu offers the works: small plates and shared plates, private dining, express lunches, pre-show dinners, degustation, lots of vegetarian options, and it has a big bar area out front specialising in local wines and beers and really excellent cocktails. Primarly, though, it’s a robata grill, where the food is barbecued in an open kitchen sited right there in the dining room. There’s also wonderful thick-cut sashimi, light-as-air tempura, gyoza dumplings bursting with flavour… If you can, sit up at the marble bar and watch them prepare it all in front of you. Quiet, intense, so skilled, so creative — it’s a real show.
Why is Masu our supreme winner? The mood is boisterous and the aesthetic informal. It’s smart, sophisticated, cosmopolitan and obviously dedicated to excellence — all of which makes it the epitome of really good dining in the new Auckland. You’ll find many different kinds of customers here: socialites and corporate types with clients, of course, also high rollers from the casino, also a lot of people who’ve saved up for a special night out and really deserve for it to be memorable. At Masu, we’re thrilled to say, that’s what they get.
The Best Restaurants issue of Metro includes a 22-page feature on all our Restaurant of the Year winners and comes with a free Top 50 Restaurants in Auckland booklet. On sale now.
Photos: Simon Young