Penrose is hardly a destination location for good food. But within this industrial enclave, you will find the Big Fish Eatery serving up the freshest sashimi and sushi. Big Fish Eatery calls its cuisine pan-Asian, and yes, there are nods to Vietnamese, Korean Thai and Malaysian flavours, but the star here are the clever Japanese dishes.
The staff are young and friendly, if a little inexperienced. The first time, it was only once we started placing our orders that our waiter realised he forgot to tell us the menu items that had run out. He handled himself with such charm that we quickly forgave him and took his recommendations for substitutions. On our second visit, our order of dragon roll was mistaken for garden roll. This was also handled with polite grace and apologies.
The wakame ($6) comes with julienned cucumber and shredded sweet inari pockets. Simple and delicious.
Admittedly, these are also some of the prettiest sashimi and sushi I have seen. We had the sashimi platter ($12) which comes with kizami (minced wasabi steeped in soy). Kizami is a revelation if you are used to the powdered coloured mustard-horseradish stuff that passes for wasabi paste. Kizami is not as pungent as freshly grated horseradish root, but it is clean-tasting. The warm spiciness hits, and then quickly dissipates. The fish (salmon, kingfish and tuna) were fresh, smooth and delicious.
The dragon roll ($13) is a king prawn tempura sushi topped with thinly sliced avocado and fish roe and eaten with shichimi mayo. Shichima is a chilli pepper blend, and the addition of seeds and nori gives it a savoury, nutty, spicy flavour. I liken it to a mild sambal taste. It is such a brilliant accompaniment to the sushi, I want this with every piece of sushi from now on.
The first time we came here for dinner on a Saturday, they had sold out of both the miso hapuka and pork belly bao. This time, we visited at lunch, and were glad to have the whole menu available.
BL was excited to try the miso hapuka ($28). This is a large piece of hapuka (watch out for bones) which has been brushed with miso and charred. Unfortunately, this was the only dish we were disappointed with. The hapuka is a delicate tasting fish, and the overwhelming taste was the salty miso. There was a lot of liquid in the fish which once cut, started to pool on the plate, and I wondered if it was poached first. I didn’t finish my portion; it was too salty for my palate.
The pork belly bao ($7) is a large fluffy bao encasing a saucy 4-hour slow cooked pork belly, with hoisin, mayonnaise, cucumber slices and spring onion. This is a generous bao, and the pork and bun were excellent. I wish the cucumber slices were slightly pickled to give a balance to the fattiness of pork, and he-who-does-not-like-coriander actually wanted some of the fresh herbaceous spiciness.
There is much to like about Big Fish Eatery. The young staff are keen and gracious; the décor is unpretentious. The chef has a deft touch with sushi and I dare say it’s the best value sashimi you can get in Auckland. I was impressed with the food, and look forward to more of Big Fish Eatery soon. For the lucky people who live in the vicinity of the restaurant, they do free delivery of their takeaway menu!
Big Fish Eatery
Unit 3, 710 Great South Road, Penrose
Ph: 09- 525 7811
Mon: 11am – 4pm
Tue – Fri: 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 9:30pm
Sat: 11am – 9:30pm