Pub Spy: Fukuko, 43 Tyler St, Britomart Precinct

Fukuko
43 Tyler St, Britomart Precinct
www.fukuko.co.nz

Fukuko boasts a range of Japanese whisky and traditional shochu.
Fukuko boasts a range of Japanese whisky and traditional shochu.

I don't know how they do it. Not content with running a very nice Japanese food operation, Fukuko also manages to be a cracking little bar, all compressed into a space roughly equivalent to the cupboard underneath the stairs.

All right, I'm exaggerating a little there, but not by much. Fukuko is discreetly tucked into a wall just along from Tyler Street Garage and is one of Auckland's truly intriguing experiences, being a Japanese bar where the amount of Japanese whisky far outweighs the amount of Scotch on offer.

It's also a shochu bar, shochu being sake's less-well-known cousin, and a kind of halfway house between sake and whisky. Fukuko takes shochu seriously and the collection of jars behind the bar offers an interesting visual effect. The jars are full of shochu being infused with various ingredients, so there are a variety of colours fighting for attention. It looks a little like a mad scientist's laboratory.

Being small, Fukuko is an intimate kind of bar, so it's probably not the best place for conversation, but it's a cosy space and made all the more welcoming by the friendly, knowledgeable staff.

The food is good, too, and utterly affordable, with small plates and small prices being the order of the day. It's good Japanese fare that washes down well with shochu, sake or whisky.

The drinks are fantastic, by the way.

The shochu is a must-try experience, although the beer range is limited to a couple of Japanese beers and the usual suspects from Lion.

It's a similar story with the wine list, but then I don't think many people go to Fukuko for wine or beer - it's a cracking cocktail bar.

The cocktail list is exceptional, with shochu cocktails vying with Japanese twists on the classics, while the list of Japanese whisky available is quite extraordinary.

All in all, then, a success and proof once more that great things come in small packages.

Scores:

Service: 5
Menu: 4
Drink: 4.5
Atmosphere: 4.5
Overall: 4.5

- Herald on Sunday

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