If there’s one way to win my heart, it’s when you get your value for your money. Nothing puts me off more than overpriced eateries- I don’t care how your dumplings (first random thing that came to mind) are made with 100% real meat (I actually saw a burger being advertised like this), and that you put in “raw” lettuce, I think it’s already expected that you’re using those ingredients anyway and there’s not need to charge us $$ because you “specialise” in it. Unless you put in something really exotic of course (insert typical expensive items such as truffle, ginseng, gluten-free etc.).
Morita is the first French-Japanese restaurant in Auckland. I had already previously visited Morita last year (or perhaps it was 2 years ago, time has been slipping by much too fast for me to process) for their 5 course degustation menu which was $65 perperson. Did I mention that that included crayfish tail and sashimi for the main courses? Considering the fine dining feel of the place (think of the dark and modern interior of Mandarin Dumpling and Bar, but not so oriental -themed), the quality of the food (and ample portion sizes!), the beautiful presentation, I was quite frankly astonished. Lunch and Dinner mains are usually around the $15 mark.
On this particular visit, the interior had changed somewhat. There’s more seatings, and it looks less grungy (it had untouched concrete floors and plain black walls last time). We were surprised with a complimentary soup starter- I think it was Mushroom soup which was creamy but not heavy, and enriched with the flavour of smoky bacon. It was a delightful way to begin (and perfect for the temperamental weather).
Choosing a dish was no easy feat. I was feeling like sashimi but was told sashimi was not available in the weekend menu. There was also a children’s menu which was a mixture of several dishes including Omurice, prawns, bento box, salad, and ice cream ($18.00). Getting a sample of everything for only $18 sounded like a good deal for indecisive people like me! Unfortunately, it’s for children under 12 years. The waitress seemed pretty convinced I was not under 12 years old so I didn’t bother trying to tell her the truth that I was actually only 11.
Okay fine, who am I kidding.
The first layer consisted of sashimi, 2 pieces of nigiri sushi, soy sauce, and a sesame-dressed salad. I felt the waitress could have informed us there was sashimi on the bento box in the first place though (when I asked if there was sashimi on the menu). But I like surprises (good ones!), so it made my day. The salmon nigiri made me die a little inside, the salmon was so smooth and fatty, and the rice was laced with enough vinegar to make it’s statement but not so that it is overpowering. One thing I’ve noticed whenever I have sushi is that I can never taste the vinegar in the rice.
The second layer was the chicken, an assortment of vegetable tempura, and a soy dipping broth. I like how this is healthy without being obviously so. There is no description about this dish so I assumed it would be a typica bento of rice, fried katsu chicken, miso soup and tempura so I got rather excited when I saw the dish being served. There was no rice, but I’m fine with that because rice is a cheap filler, so I’m getting more than my money’s worth. *stingy asian side emerging*.
The green tea here is served in unique looking cups. This tea is so different to your usual supermarket blends. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it definitely screams “I’m Green Tea!” There are indentations in the cup due to the sheer strength of our fingers from gripping it too hard. Or it might have already been there for your fingers to grip. Whichever is more believable for you.
Mira ordered the Steak Omurice- Buttered rice wrapped in an omelette ($16.00).
Inside the omelette is buttered rice with mozarella cheese, and topped with fresh tomato sauce with grated parmagiano reggiano.
We only ordered three dishes and the table was already full to the brim!
Morita was in the Metro Top 50 restaurants in 2011 and 2012, but there are so many new eateries on the prowl, it didn’t make the cut this year. It’s okay Morita, I will always love you. I also love small but intimate this restaurant feels- the chef’s even came out to thank us for dining. NISHIKI does that too, so maybe it’s a Japanese custom? They’re always so polite.
The location of Morita is great as well, it’s situated in Auckland CBD- just turn into the street where New World near Britomart is. I I love it’s quiet and modest feel- it epitomises what I perceive Japanese to be like in a way (in terms of the typical office working lifestyle). Not many people know about Morita and dining there was like a breath of fresh air away from the too many hyped-up eateries popping up everywhere on my Instagram feed.Morita 12-26 Swanson Street Auckland CBD, New Zealand