[Photographs: David Straight]
The rain starts falling and we find ourselves drawn to this little shop on a windswept stretch of Symonds Street. We go there in summer and it is good then too, but there is something about this joint that just suits the winter. Part surf shack, part fish restaurant – “sakanaya” actually means fish shop, though you can’t buy wet fish here – it is woodsy and homely, with surfboards and handwritten signs.
The specials menu is the best bit; it changes regularly depending on what chef-owner Yuji Minagawa can source the freshest. There is usually a grilled kingfish or hapuku wing ($18) on the menu, not to mention grilled fish heads, which as anyone who loves fish knows are the best bits: beautifully salty, unctuous and the fatty-salty mix is undercut by pickled ginger. Recently, we ordered a wing and to our delight a head came too.
There is also excellent sushi (“chef selection”, $18.80) – which includes an oyster, in season; they’re happy to remove the tuna. There is tako wasabi ($7.50), which is octopus leg marinated in wasabi: weird, but good. And there is ochazuke ($7.50-$10), home-style rice in stock, topped with pickled plums or salmon or snapper. Homely and comforting, perfect for warming up.
HOURS Lunch Monday to Friday, 12pm to 2pm. Dinner Monday to Saturday from 6pm.
ADDRESS 160 Symonds Street, Grafton, ph 309-1965. sakanaya.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS There is parking around the back, with an entry through the kitchen.