[Pictures: David Straight]
Industry Zen has such promise. It used to be Rikka at Victoria Park Market: now, it’s moved to Customs Street West in the Viaduct, where the fitout is all industrial punk Japanese and dark wood. It may be the most glamorous Japanese restaurant in Auckland.
But it has a floor show. Come 8.30, as we were settling into our second Asahi draft, a big drum was banged. Loudly. There was a crude joke from the maitre d’ and then the kitchen staff stood stiffly to attention behind a glass wall while the head chef shouted a speech at the diners. It was all so very naff.
That aside, Industry Zen is good. It’s another Japanese yakitori – how many more can Auckland stand? – restaurant, but it’s slightly more sophisticated than most. Presentation is magnificent (although the plates are absurdly large) and the service is professional. There’s an emphasis on grilling: we like the robata beef ($9) grilled over charcoal and served with Himalayan salt (!). The takoyaki ($6) are excellent; so is the agedashi tofu ($6). Beef tataki ($10) – a personal favourite – was balanced and fresh with just enough zing. The “spider” wrap, with soft-shell crab ($9), is a revelation. Pleasingly, prices aren’t a lot higher than you’ll find at similar, more casual, joints, which is a welcome surprise in this area.
We just hope they realise the food and the space are good enough as it is, and soon. SFG
HOURS Open 12pm to 11pm, seven days.
ADDRESS 104D Customs Street West, Viaduct, ph 307-0936. www.industry-zen.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS There’s a private function room: it seats 26.