Skip to content


[Pictures: The very wonderful David Straight]

Somewhat disingenuously, Cocoro describes its dinner menu as “izakaya-style”. Cocoro could not be further from the bustling, steamy izakayas of Tokyo or even Auckland. It’s in a back street in Ponsonby, a beautiful bricky space with timber battens and touches of exposed concrete. There is one large table in the middle and classic wishbone chairs. You will not want to drink beer.

Service is sweet, but can be vague. The food? It’s good. Chef and owner Makoto Tokuyama has been feted, and rightly so. The man is a genius: he takes Japanese classics and twists them gently, politely even. They are still recognisable but utterly delightful. There is an izakaya menu (small, tapas-style plates to be shared), and a degustation menu. There is an excellent sake list which we suggest you explore.

Highlights? A wakame salad ($14) where the seaweed is interspersed with delicate, perfect microgreens – instead of being greasy and oily, it’s light and deft. Marinated octopus salad ($7) with Myoga ginger, tart and simple. Chawanmushi – an egg custard dish – with a deep sea scallop ($12). Duck cooked at 60º, served with fig. A surprising black sesame crème brûlée. Everything is very, very good, and – best of all – it’s not expensive. Go now. SFG

HOURS Tuesday to Saturday: lunch, 12 to 2pm; dinner 5.30pm to 10pm.

CONTACT DETAILS 56a Brown St, Ponsonby, ph 360-0927.

IMPORTANT DETAILS If you’re a walk-in, you can get the izakaya menu – make a booking and you’ll get the degustation.


  1. Rebecca Jones wrote:

    Absolutely fabulous, I’ve been for lunch and dinner and the food is exquisite, the service has improved over time, I just love it and share it with my friends who appreciate ‘Cocoro – heart and soul’.

    Friday, June 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink
  2. SFG wrote:

    Thanks Rebecca, we think so too.

    Friday, June 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  3. djbtak wrote:

    I think this is my favourite restaurant in Auckland. Fifth time recently and have never been disappointed in the food – unlike many of the more expensive fine dining options in town. You’re correct to start with the ambience, an underrated factor in a meal here is that the environment (and/or that it’s not Euro-styled food) seems to deter noisy groups. Might be worth a second helping?

    Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Permalink
  4. SFG wrote:

    Yes it is definitely worth a Second Helping Danny, thank you for the suggestion. The food is extraordinary there and I think the service is a lot better too…

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *