26 Ponsonby Road
Behind a very discreet entrance on Auckland‘s Ponsonby Road eating-and-drinking strip, the slim and stylish interior of Azabu is enlivened only by big-format photos of Tokyo, which rightly leaves the emphasis on the Japanese-Peruvian-fusion dishes coming from the kitchen. It’s known as Nikkei cuisine, and standout examples on Azabu’s eclectic menu include a tuna-sashimi tostada with fiery wasabi and jalapeño, and tiger prawns with an ají amarillo mayonnaise. The Asian influence also extends to the cocktail list (try the Respirado del Fuego caipirinha with chile-infused cachaça, lime, and basil); Wednesdays to Fridays, Azabu offers good-value lunches of donburi rice bowls and Japanese-style tacos.
86 Federal St
The award-winning Depot is a restaurant with a difference run by quintessential Kiwi chef and author Al Brown. Squid ink linguine, pork hock and plump fresh oysters come hand-in-hand with wine on tap, old style crockery and super friendly service. I personally think the best seats are outside. Unfortunately they’ve succumbed to the “no reservations” disease so a good approach is to put your name on the door and then grab a drink across the road at Belotta in the SkyCity complex.