Photographs: David Straight
Janken means paper scissor rock in Japanese, and we think it’s a much better word than ours. An adorable space on Jervois Road, there is concrete and ply and a giant map of the world on the wall. There are industrial fittings and timber modernist chairs and in this way it could be one of those cute little places down a back street in Omotesando with three tables and a sense of calm.
We love it, especially on a Tuesday night when you don’t feel like cooking and you just want to be looked after, and you come here and the joint is full of families and they cook you up the crockpot chicken ($26), which is almost not Japanese, but who really minds? The chicken is falling off the bone, and it becomes Japanese thanks to the lightest of teriyaki sauces. The seafood miso nabe ($27) comes out bubbling over a small flame, and recently we ate the dashi snapper ($28) – snapper with the skin on, tomatoes, and a stock with sake, bonito and kelp – light, delicate, full of clean flavours. The starters are more traditional – fabulous pork belly buns, only in this incarnation they come with kunekune pork ($10.50); wagyu beef tataki with a yuzu citrus sauce ($18)
It is genius, evidently, but it’s also organic, free-range and occasionally macrobiotic. There is a sense of care and of taking time: just what Auckland needs right now.
HOURS Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Sunday.
ADDRESS 158 Jervois Road, Herne Bay, ph 360-0555.
IMPORTANT DETAILS Janken is tiny, but it does take bookings.