Blind Tasters

Two Italians eat at Heizo, Newmarket

In times of no travel, at least our taste buds are free to roam to places unseen and unknown.

Take Japan, for example. The mighty Land of the Rising Sun has always been high on our travel bucket list. But you know how these things go – as Charles Dickens once wrote, procrastination is the thief of time. So when Covid arrived, pretty much all we were left with was some tasteless sushi and binge sessions of Abroad in Japan on YouTube.

That was, until we discovered Heizo.

A tiny corner of traditional Japan, in the heart of Auckland

Japanese friends may disagree (if they so dare), but to me, this micro Teppanyaki restaurant is a little gem. Walking past it, you’d never guess there was anything special inside. But don’t be fooled: behind that unassuming door is another dimension; a tiny corner of traditional Japan, hidden in plain sight amid the bustling food scene of Auckland’s Newmarket.

Heizo is an all-round culinary experience. At the heart of it is the Teppanyaki table, a steel grill around which guests can gather and enjoy a wholesome meal, expertly prepared and cooked right before their eyes by head chef and owner Takeshi Iioka.

Takeshi Iioka, chef at Heizo
Heizo’s head chef and owner, Takeshi Iioka

Part culinary master, part entertainer, Takeshi is a delight to watch in action. No moves are wasted, no unnecessary effort is spent. Ingredients are cut, sliced, grilled, and plated with purposeful intent. It’s the kind of simplicity that’s achieved by conquering complexity. It’s like a good magic card trick: no matter how many times you watch it, it works every time, and you never really know how.

At night, you can choose between Heizo’s A La Carte menu and a ticket for the full ride. Try one of the Teppanyaki combo menus (including the Heizo “Sumo” Experience, $70/person) or treat your soul to our all-time favourite, the Taste of All Menu, taking diners on a mouthwatering journey from entrées to desserts for just $101 a couple.

The Teppanyaki table seats up to 10 people, so bookings are recommended. Alternatively, you may opt for one of the additional 20 spots at the surrounding tables, but why miss out on all the fun?

Heizo Teppanyaki Restaurant 平蔵 (Facebook)
3D Short Street, Newmarket, Auckland 1023
Tel. +64 9 529 0808
Open 12pm – 2pm, 6pm – 9:30pm
Menu on Zomato