Unmatched in its fresh flavours and its beautiful presentation, Japanese cuisine has made its mark on our taste buds as well as a mark on the heart of the city. Whether you are craving sushi or sake, these are the best places to experience traditional eats from the land of the rising sun.

Breakfast and all day spot | Mad Samurai, Snickel Lane, 23 Customs Street East

Mad Samurai combines quality New Zealand produce with Japanese culinary traditions and excellent service. Open all day long, this is perfect for those looking for breakfast ideas with a difference.

Best lunch break spot | &Sushi, City Works Depot

Dressed with spots of colour and edible flowers, & Sushi makes sure their plates are made to be feasted on tastefully and visually. Take a break from your work desk and head to City Works Depot, plus we hear they have a Britomart location on the way!

Best date night | MASU by Nic Watt, 90 Federal St

“A passion for flavour and dedication to detail”, MASU by Nic Watt brings atmosphere and a contemporary twist to Japanese dining. The romantic restaurant boasts a lively energy, fresh produce and minimalistic decor. Enjoy a meal on their open charcoal grill and let the food speak for itself.

Best sashimi | Ebisu, 116-118 Quay St

Elevated Japanese food starts at Ebisu. Named after the God of daily food, good luck and plenty, Ebisu prides itself on freshness, simplicity and attention to detail. Overlooking the wharves, the restaurants tall ceiling and brickwork make it a dining experience not to be missed.

The best hidden gem | Tanuki’s Cave, 319 Queen St

Located down a flight of stairs, Tanuki’s Cave is Auckland’s hidden gem off Queen Street. Decorated with glowing red lanterns and Japanese spirits standing in rows, the dimly lit eatery is perfect to enjoy with a group of friends or a date.

Most authentic experience | Japanese Bistro Zen, 104 Customs St W

Serving up Japanese delicacies that are immaculately presented and perfectly constructed, Japanese Bistro Zen intersects modern eatery with traditional dishes. Never lacking in exquisite flavours, this picturesque restaurant, situated near Auckland’s waterfront, will give you the ultimate authentic experience.

Best main under $20 | Chicken Katsu Curry, $19.50 | Sushi & Yakitori, 39-47 Jellicoe St

I Sushi & Yakitori will satisfy your Japanese desire for under $20. Hearty and full of oriental flavours, the curry melts on your palate while the panko-crumbed chicken is perfectly crunchy.

Free parking | Katsura Japanese Restaurant, Grand Millenium, 71 Mayoral Drive

Katsura Japanese Restaurant offers exquisite contemporary Japanese cuisine with a firm respect for tradition. On the menu: steaks, seafood and Teppanyaki. Plus you can enjoy two hours free parking when dining there.

Last updated: 21 December 2023