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Ebisu in Japanese mythology is the patron of fisherman and tradesman and is a symbol of good luck. So it is fitting that the restaurant Ebisu, which serves up Japanese cuisine, is situated in a converted warehouse opposite an industrial port.
The set up at Ebisu is more typical of New Zealand dining than traditional Japanese — there are no tatami mats here. However, the menu is in line with Japanese traditions. Although, unlike many traditional styles of Japanese eating, the dishes are designed to be shared.
Food-wise it’s about mixing and matching — edamame (soy beans) with sea-salt is a good start. The pork buns on the menu are direct from the well-known Momofuku cookbook and they hit the mark — the buns are soft, the fillings are fresh and the sauce is sweet. All dishes are presented beautifully on Japanese earthenware and Ebisu also delivers a good selection of quality wine, beer and sake.
Black chars of NZ flax flowers artfully divide the two dining spaces, one white room and one black room. Groups of two or three dine in the white room, which has an intimate and delicate ambience, much like the careful construction of the sashimi that is swanning around the room.
Larger groups are welcome in the charred timber walls of the black room. A room which, strangely enough, reminds me of the beautifully charred cut of sirloin that we devoured earlier on over dinner. The simple clean design of the restaurant allows your focus to be on the food.
So if simple but sophisticated flavours are what you are after, Ebisu is for you.