A Japanese meal in New Zealand

August 30, 2014

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My last dinner in Auckland was at the tranquil Cocoro: a lovely, langorous meal that was utterly Japanese in its restrained simplicity.

It began with these two oysters: one a Bluff oyster, too delicious to serve with anything more than a bit of salt and lemon. The other a Kaipara topped with a subtle yuzu foam.

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Next came a little box that opened to reveal a series of small treats: the tuna at the top, velvety curls of raw shrimp,  a sharkskin grater with fresh wasabi and a bit of pickled ginger. At the bottom, both white and dark soy sauce.IMG_4324

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Now there was seaweed-cured snapper wrapped around a nugget of grilled eggplant, topped with a frisk of turnip and served in a puree made from more grilled eggplant.

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Next there was a tiny dish of chawanmushi filled with scallop and crab, and topped with salmon roe:

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Kingfish and fiddlehead fern tempura came plunked into a broth rich with seaweed and spinach. The real treat here – for me at least – was the buckwheat and spinach at the bottom. The entire world in a bowl- ocean, forest, field and stream.   

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Beautifully grilled beef, very rare, surrounded by shiitakes, truffle, Jerusalem artichoke puree and just a tiny hint of bitter greens.

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Dessert was simple and completely refreshing: granita of umeboshi and shiso, with bits of berries and a strong hint of yuzu.  A perfect ending for a lovely meal.

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