The Japanese tradition of omakase is perfect for those who struggle decipher culinary jargon and flip through pages upon pages of a menu just to settle on the best meal choice. The age-old phrase literally means 'I'll leave it up to you', putting your dining destiny in the hands of the chef. Needless to say, it requires an open appetite and no pesky dietary requirements.
Asahi, together with esteemed chef Yukio Ozeki, are bringing the decision-less dining style to Auckland this month. Ozeki is the executive chef and co-owner of Ponsonby's Azabu, a refined eatery specialising in a unique crossover of Peruvian and Japanese techniques with the flavours of Nikkei and Tokyo. He can also be credited for bringing his flair to Britomart restaurant Ebisu and creating Lucky Lucky Dumplings, the much-hyped and short-lived dumpling pop-up found behind Karangahape Road's nondescript red door.
Asahi Akai Doa, which suitably translates to 'red door', will see Ozeki return to the iconic Las Vegas Club for a pop-up dining experience. The former strip club, now glitzy cabaret venue is being transformed for the two-month omakase experience. The floorspace will serve as the dining room for the event, with a limited number of 60 seats available in cabaret format. Front and centre on the main stage will be Ozeki as he presents a tasting menu to surprise and delight the senses. A soundtrack and accompanying visual projections will complete the immersive experience before the restaurant transforms into a revelrous cocktail lounge into the small hours of the night.
For $80 per person, diners will be treated to a ten-course omakase chef's menu from Ozeki. Sourcing local produce and using a fusion of traditional and Japanese techniques, Ozeki's menu will require an open mind and free-spirited palate. A series of light courses will be infused with Asahi beer, including kingfish ceviche with coriander puree, ponzu and daikon paper; miso glazed toothfish with cauliflower puree and noodle mushroom; and dessert tubes filled with passionfruit jelly and vodka lychee sorbet.
Asahi Akai Aoa will be open Thursday to Saturday nights from Saturday, 25 August to late December, 2018. With only one sitting per night over the limited run, it's recommended to get those bookings in as soon as possible. Private hire and exclusive bookings will also be available.