At long last, the hunt for zaru soba in NZ ends. :) I’ve never been a fan of Parnell Rd’s dining establishments – with only a few notable exceptions, I found most of them overpriced for what they offered. Gion is certainly one of the few exceptions, though – sure, it’s fairly pricey, but not as pricey as the likes of Cocoro and Masu, and perhaps more importantly, it delivers excellent food.
They serve several dishes that are extremely difficult to find in Japanese restaurants around these parts. I immediately pounced on the zaru soba (soba noodles with a cold dipping broth – trust me, this one is WAY tastier than it sounds!) with mixed tempura and chawanmushi (a Japanese egg custard dish). To be honest, I started off rather skeptical, and would have been okay with even mediocre versions of the dishes given their rarity here, but they completely blew me away. My soba noodles had just the right texture, the cold broth it was served in had all the right ingredients, and the prawn & vegetable tempura had a delightfully light and crunchy batter, served with good tempura dipping sauce. The chawanmushi was served in a gorgeous tea cup with a wooden spoon (bonus points for eye candy!) and was silky smooth and generously garnished. My only (very minor) complaint was that the zaru soba broth was a tad too salty for my preference.
We also ordered agedashi tofu and beef teppanyaki. The agedashi tofu was average – the broth was a bit thick, and I don’t recall that dish ever being served with carrots. But the beef teppanyaki was exquisite – a perfect medium rare, tender and flavoursome, absolutely gorgeous.
The portions were fairly small, but we were very full at $35 p/p, unlike what other reviewers described. The trick is to order udon/soba noodles or steamed rice with your mains, which is standard practice in most Asian cuisines anyway (and besides, you shouldn’t miss the zaru soba). If you go in expecting to be full from the mains alone, you will be in for a humongous bill.
Service was reasonably good and we received our meals in good time, though we did arrive after the dinner rush. The decor is beautiful – casual but with nice little touches like the kimono on one wall.
|Cost:||$25 – $45 pp|
|Value for money:|