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Review: Kumo Japanese Cuisine

“I’ll bring you the gold flake sake,” says the black-clad efficiency-personified that is manager extraordinaire Vivienne Hsieh. “It’s good for your skin,” she says, motioning at her flawless complexion. Delicious elixir and a beauty treatment; if only there were more multitasking drinks in the world we think, as she artfully places the speckled blue ceramic sake jug down with two matching cups. I pour my dining companion’s cup, then my own (as he’s not down with the finer points of sake etiquette) and watch the glittering flakes as they catch the light swirling in the small cups.

kumo sake

We clink the cups with a “Kanpai” (when in Rome) and sip the cool, dry crisp sake. There’s the slightest alcohol taste, but the Ginjo Kinpaku is incredibly smooth and refreshing. Having been greeted with a rousing “Irasshaimase” (welcome) when we walked in, it’s easy to imagine we’ve crossed the seas and are holed up in the minimalist cool of a Kobe restaurant with an industrial edge, as we pass the mural-flanked wall and take our booth seating alongside the city’s premier sushi train. A premium selection of sakes lining the bar’s top shelf, authentic crockery, and the black-clad chefs keeping the sushi train running complete the escape.

Kumo wall

Having a highlights reel from the menu thoughtfully prepared for us means there’s no deliberating over what to order, leaving us to be tempted by the delectable morsels gliding by with the gentle whir of the sushi locomotive. It’s not long before the beautifully presented and ocean-fresh assorted sashimi and sushi selections touch down and, to our delight, include the oft-missing tuna and the sensationally smoky addition of two blowtorch-finished Nigiri pieces (salmon and scallop). A stunningly presented plate of Beef Tataki follows. The thinly sliced and seared rare beef fanned out around the plate resembles an exotic bloom, and is scattered with shards of crispy garlic chips, providing a delicious juxtaposition with their textural crunch and nutty garlic hit alongside the delicate, perfectly respected beef. Dipped in the rich soy and red wine sauce, it becomes a fast favourite. Not to be outdone, the Asparagus Tempura from the specials board sees four huge, fresh spears coated in a light, crisp batter and firm to the bite, and comes complete with the slight acid tingle of a primo dipping sauce.

Kumo beef

For mains we’re treated to beautifully rendered, melt-in-the-mouth braised pork belly (Buta Kakuni), dripping with a sticky delicate miso BBQ-style sauce (though we’ll never know for sure, since it’s the chef’s secret!) and the golden tower of deliciousness that is the Soft Shell Crab, the sweet meat tempered by the decadent, sharp acid profile of the fiesty oyster and chilli sauce.

kumo pork

Delivering another favourite is a creative twist on an Italian classic – the Matcha Tiramisu, substituting a green tea infusion for coffee. Our thrilling finale is less sweet than its rival, but definitely needs to be added to your gastronomic bucket list (you’ll want to get your order in early though, as this limited edition dessert regularly sells out!).

351 Lincoln Road
03 339 0886
www.kumo-cuisine.co.nz

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