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SKYCITY Auckland Welcomes Famous Japanese Eatery to Their Federal Street Dining Precinct

October 19, 2013 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

Officials with SKYCITY Auckland are excited to announce the inclusion of one of the most famous Japanese restaurants in the world to its Federal Street Dining Precinct.

Masu Japanese Robata Restaurant & Barto will be located next to SKYCITY’s Grand Hotel and across from very popular The Grill by Sean Connolly. The restaurant will open its doors on October 16th, 2013.

Candi Beach CottagesMasu is the latest brainchild of famed restauranteur Nic Watt, whose previous restaurant ventures have been wildly successful. Watt’s properties are known for their glamor, celebrity and style as well as for their world-class contemporary Japanese food. They are favorite celebrity hotspots as well, catering to the likes of Kate Moss and Coldplay’s Chris Martin and lauded by Michelin star chefs, Heston Blumenthal and Michel Roux Jr. SKYCITY officials are certain Masu will fit right in with the prestigious restaurants that already call the area home.

SKYCITY CEO Nigel Morrison says Masu is a fantastic addition to Federal Street’s Dining Precinct.

“I was first introduced to Nic by Peter Gordon at Peter’s charity fund raising event ‘Dining For A Difference’ at SKYCITY in 2010. Since then I have been trying to persuade Nic to open a world-class Japanese restaurant at SKYCITY. This is finally a reality.

“Masu perfectly complements Federal Street’s other world-class restaurants (such as) The Grill, Depot, Bellota, the recently opened Federal Delicatessen and The Sugar Club up the Sky Tower. Nic is in great company joining Federal Street’s other award winning chefs Sean Connolly, Al Brown and Peter Gordon.”

“While this is a very important restaurant for our international guests, I have no doubt it will be embraced and loved by Aucklanders,” he says.

Masu has a spacious, airy floor plan that includes a foyer and private glass-enclosed area called The Obi Room. Masu seats 18 in the private dining room, 100 in the restaurant and 16 around the open charcoal hearth – and only two pillars will be found in the whole place.

The focal point of Masu is the robata hearth where patrons can watch chefs prepare their food from their table. Robata is a traditional Japanese word meaning ‘fireside cooking’ and is a centuries-old, country style method made popular by Japanese fishermen who prepared and cooked their meals on a communal hearth.

Nic says it’s all about retaining the natural flavor by grilling the food rather than the accoutrements added to a pan. The method is similar to a barbecue where items of food on skewers – seafood, meat and poultry with vegetables – are slow-grilled over hot charcoal.

The shochu and sake bar is sure to be a hit as well. Drinks will be prepared using hand chipped ice cubes made from clear, deoxygenated ice to avoid diluting the beverage.

Masu’s wine list will follow the high standards of Masu-branded sake, offering what may be the most comprehensive selection of traditional Japanese liquor in the country.

Nic is still a Kiwi at heart so he will insist that the wine list be 100% New Zealand native. Champagne will also be available as well.

The Masu menu will include traditional Japanese fare in addition to some signature Masu dishes such as tartar of salmon and tuna with house made rice cracker, tempura yellow belly flounder with chili ponzu and lamb cutlets, gochujang hot pepper, pickled onions and carrot.

“Each serving is about a single dish that stands alone of its own accord, making its own statement,” Nic says. “That single dish presents itself as memorable but alone, set apart from although entirely complementary to the other dishes presented.

“It’s all about having passion for flavor and dedication to detail,” says Nic.

Nic returned to New Zealand from London last year where he enjoyed an impressive career as chief operating officer for the world-renowned restaurant group Roka.

At Masu, his supporting staff will be head chef Darren Johnson – who worked with Nic at Roka – and restaurant manager Matthew Aitchison, formerly of The French Café.

Aside from the buzz on the street surrounding the grand opening of Masu, Nic and his latest venture will be getting some additional publicity via a televised cooking show set to air on October 12th at 7pm on Auckland’s TV3. The program, Testing the Menu, will feature some of New Zealand’s favorite dishes like fish and chips, BBQ and Sunday roast. However, Nic will be giving them a Japanese makeover and the audience’s favorite will land a coveted spot on the Masu menu.

“We’ve been working hard with all of the planning and preparation – now comes the exciting stage where everything comes to fruition,” Nic says. “As we count down to October 16, we’re very much focused on ensuring everyone involved is primed to provide an excellent experience for our guests”, says Nic.

The Meaning of Masu

Masu is the name of the traditional Japanese symbol that signifies good fortune and prosperity. Masu boxes,which are square shaped boxes used for rationing rice when it was used for currency, have been an integral part of Japanese history for more than 1,000 years. For the Japanese, the Masu boxes were as valuable as the rice and both remain an important part of their lives. Today, Masu boxes are used for serving sake and still signify the good fortune and abundance they were originally meant to convey.

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