Taste your way to Japan at Sono | The Gourmand & Gourmet

Taste your way to Japan at Sono

With sleek wooden interiors, water fountains, wagyu for days and a killer wine list, Sono perfectly combines fine dining not solely with authentic Japanese cuisine, but also culture: charmingly polite wait staff take off their shoes before entering private dining rooms and have a knack for pouring both champagne and saké flawlessly. Originating in the CBD but in recent years expanding to Hamilton’s Portside Wharf, Sono is a haven for Japanophiles and seafood lovers alike. We can only find one problem: the 19 page menu induces severe decision-anxiety. And what do you do when the menu leaves you dizzy? You go for the wonderful, mind-easing best-of collection that is the tasting menu of course. With matched wine and sake, obviously. The adventure starts with a platter of soft shell crab, wagyu tataki and an oyster with lime sauce that has me converted to team hard shellfish, before moving on to arguably the freshest sashimi in the city – the snapper carpaccio with garlic vinaigrette is nothing short of amazing. Add a plate of tempura prawn rolls and salmon belly aburi sushi (don’t brand it “boring” til you try it – this is nothing like your weekly food court hand-rolls) and deliciously fluffy crab croquettes. Top it off with a choice of mains (wagyu, duck breast or fish of the day) and the chef’s selection of dessert – we scored a decadent chocolate gateau with vanilla bean ice-cream. Sono’s wine list is award-winning, and the matches will see you with not-at-all stingy glasses ranging from Riesling to Shiraz, Clare Valley to Central Otago. Those wanting to immerse themselves can choose saké for two of the courses, but sparkling wine is available if you don’t like your dinner accompaniment to burn. The Portside restaurant also boasts a teppanyaki table for nights of knife flashing, food tossing fun with charismatic chefs. (It’s super popular so book well in advance.) Others who want to see their food cooked in front of them (but would rather not have a prawn or two thrown at their heads) can DIY it at the table with a piping hot stone and some raw seafood or wagyu. Not for the clumsy. Bonus pro tip: when you press the green button to open the door to the bathrooms, look a few feet to your right. Looking left will result in awkwardly trying to push open the door to a locked wine cellar. Sono Restaurant | Portside & Queen St Words by Jessimin Horder