It is fair to say that Takapuna locals are getting excited about the new dining and hospitality options coming up in the area over the next few months.
A few months ago we profiled the new hospitality development being put together by Crown Group on The Strand overlooking Gould Reserve and the water. We are also eagerly awaiting the completion of the new food precinct in the ex surf shop building opposite Hurstmere Green. And most recently we learnt that Josh Emett is to open Madam Woo in the vacant building beside Anzac Carpark on Lake Road. Exciting time indeed!
There are three new establishments opening over the next month or so in the Crown Group development. We are thrilled that one of these will be a Japanese restaurant that looks to be a jewel in the crown of this great new option in Takapuna. "Tokyo Bay" will be in the middle space of the new complex, and is being described by the owners as an international class venue, providing 'New-Style' Japanese cuisine.
Tokyo Bay is set to open in mid-December. For updates visit their website or Facebook.
The neat thing about Tokyo Bay is it will be operated by an experienced team who have already established a great track record for successful eateries. The directors of the business – Sarasa Shimura and Mark Smith – have been the driving forces behind Soto Japanese Restaurant in St Mary's Bay and Tokyo Club, a highly regarded small Izakaya style restaurant within the popular Ponsonby Central establishment in Ponsonby. Also joining these two in the Tokyo Bay venture is head chef Chikara Soto and consultant chef Hideharu Shimura.
There is a strong Shore connection for the restaurant with director Mark Smith being a Westlake old boy who was brought up on the Shore before embarking on a career as a chef and working in hotel management around the globe. He worked with Sheraton and Hyatt Hotels in Hong Kong and throughout Australasia before founding Soto in St Mary's Bay that was the Cuisine Restaurant of the Year. Mark's strength is in food and beverage management.
"It is a thrill to take advantage of this prime opportunity back in my old stomping ground," said Mark Smith when we met over lunch at Tokyo Club in Ponsonby to chat with him about his new venture in mid-November. "Sarasa, Chikara, Hideharu and I are a formidable team when you pool together our particular areas of expertise. All the bases are covered."
Sarasa Shimura will be the host and manager of Tokyo Bay. She is from Tokyo and has experience in various traditional forms of Japanese cuisine. She has regularly been nominated as Auckland Hospitality Personality of the Year and as a director has played a big part in establishing Tokyo Club as a popular part of Ponsonby Central.
Head Chef at Tokyo Bay will be Chikara Sato who is a licensed 'Fugu' blowfish chef. He is from the top echelon of Japanese sushi chefs from Tokyo, being a specialist in the art of sushi and seafood. He worked in two of Tokyo's most famous restaurants, Seryna in Shinjuko and Kyubey in Ginza.
"Chikara is recognised as one of the top Japanese chefs in New Zealand and he will be assisted by Hideharu Shimura who is also from Tokyo and came to New Zealand from a position as head chef of Keio Plaza Hotel's Michelin Star restaurants," explained Mark Smith. "He is also a French cuisine specialist and comes with a huge amount of knowledge and will play a big part in making Tokyo Bay a special dining experience."
"We believe this is the best spot for a restaurant in New Zealand so we are leaving no stoned unturned in ensuring every base is covered to make Tokyo Bay very special. Ignite Architects have helped us create a superb venue and we have sourced authentic furnishings, artefacts and fittings from Japan to complement the fit-out. Our Mackerel mobile, glass roof frontage and expert lighting by Richard Bracebridge will work well with the impressive bar made by Japanese woodwork carftsman Tsuguya Takashio. Our customers will love it."
So what can locals expect at Tokyo Bay? The Tokyo Bay team explain it in the following way.
As you walk in you will be greeted by the host. As you wait for your table you decide on a refreshing Japanese beer, freshly poured from the tap. The sandstone bar leaner, alongside a cool modern bar features backlit lines of unique Japanese beverages, showing off the original shapes and colours of the bottles.
Your table is ready. You are guided under an overhead school of shimmering Mackerel, being chased into the corner. You are seated in your leather-clad booth and through the bustle of diners the waters of the ocean glisten in the background under the moonlight. The table is lamp lit, perfect to relax, stay and enjoy the 'new style' Japanese cuisine.
The menu features an extensive collection of Japanese favourites presented "new style". You're by the ocean so seafood is appropriate. How about a plate of line caught Snapper tempura? Or some fresh chargrilled Yakitori skewers while you decide on the rest?
What a night you say. I'll be back for lunch tomorrow and I know what I'm ordering – the mixed grill Bento Box on the deck with a large cold Asahi beer. I'll invite the Jones's from next door, they'll love it!
So there it is folks, Tokyo Bay at Takapuna Beach. Modern Japanese cuisine with delicious flavours complemented by Japanese beverages. All presented as elegant, yet it it will still be very affordable. Opening in mid-December. You can start by liking them on Facebook (tokyobaytakapuna) and you could win a $500 dinner voucher! Details and terms and conditions are on Facebook and their website.
TOKYO BAY – The Strand, Takapuna. www.tokyobay.co.nz
By Aidan Bennett
Channel Magazine: Issuu 50 December 2014 | January 2015