Ben MitchellComment


Ben MitchellComment

Around $35 a main
1 Solent Street, Mechanics Bay, Auckland

On a cold midweek night, me and several other Zomato reviewers were invited to dinner at Mikano.
The restaurant feels remote if travelled to on foot, but the distance from the city centre grants a spacious dining room and a splendid sea view.

Our host, Sai, started our evening with an introduction to some Mo√ęt & Chandon Ice Imperial, which we were told was crafted to be drunk with ice. It made for a interesting story and the bubbly liquid, touched with mint and strawberry, was refreshing to the point and I had to restrain myself from gulping it down. If you were in the mood for something a little bit fancy, I'd heartily recommend this, but personally I'd be just as happy with sparkling rose.

We were seated and browsed the menu. The emphasis was clearly on seafood, with an entire selection of mains dedicated to fish. You could chose one of four fish, cooked in one of four ways, for a total of sixteen combinations! Spoilt for choice!
I decided to try the snapper, cooked with coconut chilli sambal and a side of crisp fried cauliflower.

Amidst the lively story telling of Sai, our many starters arrived. Soups, seafood and bacon topped ravioli were placed in front us.
The seafood selection impressed with perfectly cooked squid, neither chewy nor soft, the light brushing of chilli tasting irresistible. The garlic prawns were bliss, also cooked excellently with their delicate texture. The salmon sashimi was fresh and the sharp wasabi tinged mayonnaise was a choice addition.

There were some let downs. The lasagne was a bland mush and the duck ravioli was enjoyable, but nothing more. The much loved soups I found uninspired, with a thin chowder and a weak crayfish soup. The mains soon followed, and also had their ups and downs.

My snapper's texture was perfect, with succulent flaky chunks, but the flavour was drab. I expected the brushing of sambal to be poignant, and perhaps fiery, instead it was coconut milk mellow. The complimentary serving of coconut heavy slaw, made for coconut overkill. 
The fried cauliflower's coating was too thick and heavy to work with fish. Perhaps it would have better complemented another one of the mains, but it was mismatched for my choice.

A fellow eater had chosen a meaty pork belly. I took my knife to it, and carved chunks of succulent, but soggy meat. The skin was extremely chewy, as opposed to crispy, and it took some strong gnashing to be able to swallow it.
I had mixed feelings about the mains, with their big portions and inconsistent quality. Was this fine dining or hearty unpretentious food? For me it was neither and that was a problem.
And finally came the desserts. Perhaps unexpectedly, they were also a mixed basket.

The chocolate pudding was baked to perfection, the crust breaking with a delicate stab, to reveal gooey chocolate heaven. Kudos to the chef and highly recommended. The creme brulee was enjoyable, the tiramisu and pavlova mediocre.
One aspect that was consistent throughout the night, was the excellent service. The staff were friendly, attentive and clearly enjoyed interacting with customers.

I very much enjoyed my night, but had mixed feelings about the food. There were some real gems, and it's clear there is some passion and talent in the kitchen of Mikano. However with prices on the higher end of dining, my expectations were equally high. Mikano failed to deliver, with the competition offering better meals, often for less. 
Mikano serves enjoyable, albeit disappointing dishes, resulting in a restaurant I would be unlikely to revisit.