ADDRESS:   56a Brown St, Ponsonby
MAINS:   $22 – $95
CONTACT:   09 360 0927
SCORE:   19 / 20

Just minutes from the madding apex of central Ponsonby is one of Aotearoa’s finest temples of thoughtful, carefully crafted dining. Cocoro is Japanese-come-Kiwi at its best, and it’s no wonder it remains high on the Cuisine Good Food Guide scale. Co-owner/chef Makoto Tokuyama’s unwavering commitment to locally sourced, sustainable produce is just one of the features that keeps drawing us back. Another is the serenity of the dining room and the unfussy service quietly and gracefully monitored by inimitable co-owner Ricky Lee. The drinks list is impressive while the detailed elegance of every dish elicits involuntary ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ upon delivery. Chef’s blue pāua chawanmushi is legendary while the Hokkaido scallop gratin is a treasure. We love the multi-course dégustation menus but for those stepping into the realm for the first time, the à la carte selection satisfies with the finest, freshest food in the city.

IN BRIEF: Heart-and-soul Japanese dining