Cocoro

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MondayClosed.

Tuesday5:30 – 9:00 pm.

Wednesday5:30 – 9:00 pm.

Thursday5:30 – 9:00 pm.

Friday12:00 – 2:00 pm, 5:30 – 9:00 pm.

Saturday12:00 – 2:00 pm, 5:30 – 9:00 pm.

SundayClosed.

56a Brown Street, Ponsonby, Auckland

09 360 0927

Japanese cuisine comprises a whole lot more than just sushi rolls and tempura, and more fish types than simply salmon and tuna. At owner-operated Cocoro in Auckland, the dining menu showcases the versatility that Japanese cuisine offers and also that there are plenty more types of fish in the sea - all while celebrating delicately prepared seafood and locally sourced produce. 

Cocoro means ‘heart and soul’ and it’s named for what goes into the food and service that diners can expect to receive. Each visit should feel like a bespoke culinary experience, one that is ‘ichigo ichie’ - an idea that translates loosely to stopping to enjoy each individual moment. 

While there is an a la carte menu available for those after something simple, the real showstopper at Cocoro is the degustation menu. Take your pick from three carefully crafted, different degustation menus, before settling back and following the courses through the flavours of Japan. Along with the classic Nigiri sushi, a menu highlight is the signature sashimi platter, a striking work of art offering over 30 varieties (yes, you read that right!) of seafood. The effort and technique that goes into sourcing and preparing such a feast is certainly no mean feat.

The restaurant’s focus on degustations stems from owner-chef Makoto Tokuyama’s personal journey with food. Growing up in a Zen Buddhist temple in Japan, mealtimes were always a culmination of locally sourced seafood, produce from local farmers, and pickles, soups and rice prepared by his grandmother, Chizu. She also taught him the importance of respecting the ingredients and minimising waste - which are teachings both evident in his practices today. Nowadays, Makoto likes to source the highest quality local ingredients, and use his skills and backstory to create unique masterpieces for each degustation menu on offer.

Cocoro takes a modern and minimalist approach to decor, so expect plenty of wooden textures, intimate lighting and a large communal table with smaller tables lining the walls. Its location is also discrete: a destination restaurant with a brick exterior off bustling Ponsonby Road. Like many Japanese offerings, it may be humble on the outside, but you can expect a magical journey within. 

Words by Nicole Mudgway & Photography by Jerome Warburton

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Location

56a Brown Street, Ponsonby, Auckland

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