Tucked away in an alleyway just off the main road of Mount Maunganui, Mr Miyagi's unassuming location makes for a pleasant surprise. This Japanese eatery's reputation has mostly spread through word-of-mouth – it’s a hidden gem that many locals have happily discovered, meaning the small restaurant fills up fast on a Friday evening.
The menu invites adventure as well as offering delicious takes on simpler favourites, such as sushi. Each dish is carefully crafted using fresh, wholesome ingredients. On this visit, I decided to go for the miso eggplant as my entree, followed by the tatsoi kingfish salad as my main. My friend started with edamame beans, followed by free-range teriyaki chicken. The eggplant is flavoursome and really showcases this great vegetable; it's simplicity at its finest, served as half an eggplant, a rich hoisin style sauce and sesame seeds. Both mains were made up of generous portions and the kingfish salad was accompanied with a beautiful citrus tahini that I often request with other meals.
For dessert we shared ginger ice-cream and tempura fruit. Despite being quite full from our mains, the ice-cream was so irresistible that we soon found ourselves scraping the edges of our bowls. I enjoyed the tempura banana and pineapple, especially with the crunch of the cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top.
The understated decor works as a point of difference for Mr Miyagi – it’s kept clean and simple with white walls and sleek wooden furniture. It's far from bland though – pot plants and even a unique elephant sculpture add interest to the crisp space. The owner, Luke McCartin can often be seen mingling with customers, with his hospitality adding to the restaurant's charm.
With its deliciously fresh menu and relaxed atmosphere, Mr Miyagi is an ideal spot to spend a hot summer's night. It’s perfect for an uninterrupted catch-up with friends, or a relaxed family dinner with the kids.
147B Maunganui Road, Mount Maunganui
Monday to Sunday: 5.30 – 10pm