Soon to be Sake Bar 601 – the licence hadn’t come through at the time of writing – 601 joins Winehot (see review at left) a couple of doors down in affording great eating in the otherwise nondescript Morningside shops.

Chef Hiroshi Miyata, formerly of Katsura at the Rendezvous Hotel, assisted by manager Gen Ogata who came from the delightful Tanuki’s Cave, offers a tight menu that’s big on flavour, along with blackboard specials.

For the standard mains you can take your pick from steak, corn-fed chicken, market fish, lamb leg steak or tofu steak and choose how you would like it prepared: panfried perhaps, the fish sashimi’d, panfried or in tempura. All come with fresh salad and tasty Japanese dressing.

Our first impression was that we had the best miso soup we’d ever tried, with loads of vegetables as well as the usual strips of nori.

For sushi to start, we asked them to surprise us and surprise us they did. Fried sushi of smoked fish and cream cheese was a moreish first for us. The California roll was as fresh and chipper as you could wish.

And likewise all the other dishes we tried. The tempura of salmon along with some vegetables including green beans and eggplant was light and crisp – and remained crisp throughout the meal – whereas it can so often be closer to chip-shop batter.

For dessert you will find the novel “moffle”, a cross between mochi, or sticky rice cake, and waffle, served with organic azuki bean paste, whipped cream and fruit – strawberries when we tried it. Another light and crisp treat.

601ChefHiroshiMiyataTableLike the menu this bright almost surgically white cafe is small and cleanly formed. It would pay to book for dinner and you will be rewarded with some morsel gifted from the kitchen.

It’s boring to be constantly reminded of these tight times, but with the likes of a set including main, miso soup, coffee and dessert for $15, you won’t need to tighten your belt in any sense here.

We were bemused by a big surfboard standing up against the wall, but it turns out chef is a bit of an expert at Hawaiian paddle surfing. Some people display skill in more ways than one.

Jan 2009
by Toni Mason


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