Japanese culture is known for being clean and uncluttered, embracing balance, harmony and a deep respect for natural beauty. Kazaguruma has married all of these things in its restaurant space and the dishes available on its menu.
The Japanese restaurant is located at the top of the ever-busy Cuba Street, occupying a two-storey Edwardian building where Arthur's cafe used to trade. We were greeted by smiling, friendly faces upon arrival, immediately being led up the stairs and into the main dining room; our table located at one of the big bay windows overlooking Cuba Street. Polished wooden floors, simplistic furnishings, white walls with coat hangars being the only "artwork". It's simple yet functional.
Our waitress welcomed us and took us through the menu, explaining that the sushi is a great option to start, and that the a la carte menu has a wonderful variety of options. Sharing is greatly recommended. She also pointed out that the sake options have been paired with dishes, allowing for a full taste experience. We jumped straight into starters, ordering the Fijian yellow fin tuna sashimi, NZ Ora King salmon nigiri and seared wagyu nigiri. The tuna was probably the most melt-in-your-mouth sashimi I've ever had, and I highly recommend the seared wagyu, found on the specials menu. Before diving into the main course, the black panko prawn katsu caught our eye, and we decided to order one to share. The presentation of the dish is gorgeous, and the taste didn't disappoint either.
For the main course, we ordered three dishes, taking the advice of our waitress and trying multiple things. We went with the karaage chicken, the seafood chilli Américaine and the teriyaki salmon, which was the clear winner of the three. The dish was so simple, yet the flavours were so complex and complimented each other wonderfully. We later found out that this dish is the chef's signature, and it's not hard to see why.
We ended with green tea ice cream served with black sesame sabre and roasted pistachio, and the baked cheesecake with salt and black pepper sabre and yuzu curd. The cheesecake was phenomenal, and I honestly wish I could have a jar of that yuzu curd to pour on everything.
Kazaguruma aims to please, with a goal to familiarise Wellingtonians with contemporary Japanese food — and they've done exactly that.