Japanese food has always been my go to cuisine whenever I’ve had one too many artery clogging experiences. My day had consisted of an unexpected 10km hike along one of Long Bay’s confusing trails (10km because we managed to get lost) and I just couldn’t end my efforts with a greasy burger as usual – hence the delicious but guilt free dining session at Tokyo Bay.
In the last year or so, the suburb of Takapuna has exponentially increased their appeal in respect to restaurants, cafes and small eateries. Tokyo Bay is situated on the Main Beach Takapuna section, a new area from the Copson Group created for casual dining with beachfront views. Nestled between Franc’s Cafe & Bar and Regatta Bar & Eatery (both worth a visit!), this has quickly become the most popular area to experience the best of both worlds – sea views and good food.
The décor at Tokyo Bay is simplistic yet sophisticated, with subtle additions of Japanese culture throughout the restaurant. With it’s outdoor area usually open, you can see inside the restaurant immediately to open area dining in the centre, booth seats and a more private cordoned area in the back. We were greeted with friendly welcomes and smoothly shown to our table. The staff were quick to serve us, handing us menus, taking our orders and pouring our water for us all in a short space of time. Even though we had beaten the weekend lunchtime rush, there were still a few groups in the restaurant but not once did we have trouble getting the attention of a waitress if we needed to.
The menu is clearly seafood inspired with a variety of fish (salmon, tuna, trevally, kingfish and snapper) as well as tiger prawns and squid making constant appearances. It also contains land bound options such as Wagyu beef, chicken and duck. There was also the standard safety nets of sushi, sashimi, bento and of course, my favourite of Teriyaki Chicken. Their licensed ‘fugu’ (blowfish) chef Chikara Sato rings a bell too, hailing from Tokyo and associated with the Tokyo Club Restaurant in Ponsonby. Looks like he’s conquering over the other side of the bridge now too.
I started off with my ritual of Edamame, which was perfectly balanced. The subtle tastes of the bean and salt is always a great way to ease into the dining experience (and for those hungry snackers who don’t like waiting, it usually arrives the quickest too).
In the Light Share dish options, we chose the Eggplant Miso-yaki and Octopus Takoyaki, both cooked to perfection. The eggplant was a new experience for me – the texture was soft and juicy while the miso had the perfect balance that didn’t overpower the subtle flavour of the eggplant.
The Takoyaki was just as expected, a ball of flavour to bite into and I always loved how the bonito flakes they put on top tend to dance on the food as they melted.
I didn’t find anything that stood out with my Teriyaki chicken besides the fact it was delicious. I guess with such a safe choice, it’s hard to build on the flavour to turn it into something different. I did enjoy every bit of it and the chicken was extremely tender. Since I’m not a salad person, I didn’t eat any of mine but it was very fresh and dressed lightly with an Asian vinaigrette.
For my friend’s meal, there was nothing delicate about the BBQ sauce as it stated on the menu. It had a punch of flavour which worked well with the crunchy pieces of chicken. I definitely had food envy when I tried it but felt like there could have been more sauce (maybe it’s just me).
For the location this restaurant is situated in, it’s very reasonably priced, similar to small joints but with million dollar views. Depending on your appetite, a light share dish and a main would be adequate both in food and price but it could get steeper if you plan to order lots from the sushi/sashimi section. From what I could see of other patrons, the bento box which is the most expensive part of their menu is more for if you want variety of little dishes than a bigger dish with the same flavours.
Overall this was a great experience, one that reaffirmed my love of Japanese cuisine. The service was excellent, the décor created a relaxed but sophisticated environment to dine in and I would definitely be coming back if I’m ever in the neighbourhood. Who knows, I might even be brave enough to try some fugu too.
What: Tokyo Bay
Where: 12 The Strand, Takapuna, Auckland 0622
Opening Hours: Monday-Wednesday 12–9:30PM, Thursday 12–10PM, Friday-Saturday 12–10:30PM, Sunday 12–9:30PM