315B Queen Street,
(09) 379 5656
The ViewAuckland Review
3 out of 5 stars
Here’s a little piece of trivia for you. Did you know the meaning of the name Kura is Treasure House?
Obviously there are Japanese origins with the name, so it was hardly a stroke of genius when the owners of one of Auckland’s most popular Japanese sake bars made the business decision to call the place Kura Japanese Sake Bar.
Sure it’s a little bit of a mouthful to get your tongue around, but so are the delicious morsels of food found downstairs beyond the sliding doors at Kura. And I reckon this traditional sake bar is as close to a treasure house as you will find on Auckland’s main CBD strip, or in Auckland really.
I’d like to think what I’m about to reveal about Kura is new, but to many people Kura is already a popular destination which has satisfied their taste-buds and contently filled their bellies with sake for a long time. Indeed I haven’t stumbled across some undiscovered treasure trove, but in a world where restaurants come and go so quickly it’s good to know there are some old reliable ones sticking around.
Nestled downstairs on Queen St near the Aotea Centre and close to Auckland’s arts precinct, Kura has always been a favourite for pre-show eats and drinks. You can take Kura as formal or casual as you like, sitting at an intimate table near the rustic brick work or at the bar giving you a good view into the bustling kitchen.
My friend and I opted for something in between, a table for two but not a private little booth. If it had’ve been winter there’s little doubt I would have been tempted to sit near the open fire. As soon as you enter Kura you transported to another world, you could easily be in a sake bar somewhere in Tokyo.
Kura’s menu doesn’t reveal anything new for regular Japanese restaurant goers, but it is reasonably detailed and if you are unsure could take some time deciding to go for a main, shared tasters, sushi or sashimi.
After some discussion and consultation with the friendly staff we decided to share teriyaki-style grilled salmon fillets ($15), crispy spring rolls with smoked cheese and shrimp ($6) and octopus balls ($6).
Drink wise there’s a long sake selection to tempt – over 25 different types to be exact - but on this visit we both settled on the Black Barn sav from Hawkes Bay ($7.50 per glass).
The spring rolls and octopus balls arrived quickly and were equally as tasty as each other. It took each of us several taste attempts to conclude we didn’t have a favourite ... until the salmon arrived. Fresh, cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of teriyaki not to overpower the salmon we were lulled into silence as bite after bite melted in our mouths.
Other diners gradually started to leave around us and there tables were quickly cleared and cleaned. It wasn’t long before an international student replaced the middle aged couple or a group of friends replaced a group of businessmen.
It is evident Kura caters for all tastes and budgets.
Speaking of budgets, our bill neatly came to $47 for three dishes and two glasses of wine. It was enough for us, but bigger eaters might need an extra dish or two. Still, $23.50 isn’t bad for a treasured night out.
Kura Japanese Sake Bar has been reviewed by 8 users