Gion Japanese Restaurant

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4 reviews
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197 Parnell Road,

(09) 379 3344

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byBrett Atkinson3/12/2007

4 out of 5 stars

Gion has been on my radar for a few months now, and after being anointed as the city's best Japanese restaurant by Metro recently, a visit was long overdue.

Auckland's Japanese restaurants seem to fall into two categories. At the more raucous end there are places like Sake Bar Nippon in Epsom where your arrival is announced with a drum, and it's easy to think you've stumbled into a late night bar in the back streets of Osaka. The more ordered end is occupied by Gion with a thoughtful ambience that doesn't distract from the flavorful precision of the food.

Sushi and sashimi have now entered and taken over the everyday world of Westfield shopping malls, so we use the opportunity try more adventurous options from chef Akira Kugue. After waiting slightly too long to order our drinks - there's a fine line between serene service and slow service - we decide on the Otsumami tasting platter ($10.50) to kick things off. The salty edamame beans are ideal with a crisp Asahi lager, but the highlight is the octopus wasabi, scarily fresh chopped octopus studded with wasabi. If the idea of a tasting platter is to wake up our tastebuds it succeeds admirably. It's a great dish but probably a little challenging for the St Pierre's team at your local Westfield.

Gion's six page menu includes a good selection of smaller and lighter meals, so again we use the opportunity to try a wider range of flavours. Gossamer light tempura Tiger Prawns ($14.50 for three) are enlivened by green tea salt, and fresh Pacific oysters with ponzu sauce and spring onion ($13.50 for five) retain a straightforward simplicity. When seafood is this fresh, it pays to keep things simple. Teriyaki chicken ($16) and Saiko yaki grilled and marinated salmon ($17.50) - are treated with the lightest of sauces.

Around us other diners are being treated to mini-works of art as we wait for our final dish. Fanned on huge platters, sushi and sashimi is most popular and a good choice for some of the larger groups. Our final dish, the whole squid platter ($20) from a special summer menu, is the only minor letdown of the night. A whole squid served grilled, tempura and as sashimi lacks the surprising and more diverse flavours of other platters, and the grilled squid is a little dry.

Stick with an array of different smaller plates - think of it as an opportunity to try loads of few flavours - and Gion's combination of the freshest of seafood and a quietly reflective ambience won't disappoint.

Gion Japanese Restaurant has been reviewed by 4 users

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