405 Mt Eden Rd
(09) 630 4445
Tuesday - Saturday
11am - 10pm
11.30am - 2.30pm
Kazuya Yaumauchi is one of Auckland’s most celebrated chefs, and yet he is still surprisingly little known. That may be because his restaurant, Kazuya, is hidden away up on Symonds St, and most people walk by without even knowning it’s there. The food there is a surprise and delight, which is why we were so delighted to have Kazuya involved in ArtDego2014. It was during that night we heard he was planning to open a Ramen bar in Mt Eden, and we became really, really excited.
This is Kazuya’s tribute to the ultimate comfort food of Japan, ramen. Noodle soup that’s hearty and filling and very messy, it’s a dish that needs to be slurped and splashed all over yourself for full enjoyment, and ZOOL ZOOL is designed for exactly that kind of behavior. There are different styles of ramen for each region of Japan, and ZOOL ZOOL serves many of them – from the milky broth of Kyushu to the miso ramen of Hokkaido.
They also serve their own style of the dish, called ZOOLmen, which includes all of the delicacies you’ll find in ramen without the broth. It’s no surprise to me that ZOOL ZOOL serves the best ramen I’ve tasted, savoury and warming, served steaming in beautiful bowls with freshly pulled noodles and generous portions of char su (roasted pork). If you’re not so keen on ramen, you can also find handmade gyoza here, as well as fried karaage and katsu, and soft shell crab, among other things.
The narrow restaurant is simple and welcoming, with plenty of tables and spots at the bar at which to hunch over your bowl and slurp away, alone or with friends. There is a blackboard wall above the bar that reads “No Ramen No Life” – which probably gives you some idea of how much they care about the dish here. There is also a tongue-in-cheek guide to the Art of Slurp which explains that slurping ramen is not seen as rudeness, but necessity. I couldn’t agree more.
ZOOL ZOOL is the kind of place I can imagine myself retreating to on gloomy days, because a bowl of ramen from here will most probably be more effective than a bear hug from Hagrid when it comes to lifting the spirits.