The man who ate Lincoln Rd: Moto Sushi

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Steve Braunias is on a mission to eat at each one of the 55 food joints on Lincoln Rd in west Auckland. • Episode two: Moto sushi.
How did this sushi shop rate? Photo / Zomato
How did this sushi shop rate? Photo / Zomato

The man who ate Lincoln Rd was in the mood for a cheap bite to eat. I could have done with a pie, but I walked into a sushi joint, because what's the difference?

In many ways sushi is the new Big Ben steak and cheese. They have a lot in common. You can eat it with your fingers, you can eat it on the run; you sort of know what's in it, it's always lots of fun.

My mood was set to the music of this happy rhyme as I stepped into Moto in the block of shops opposite Waitakere Hospital.

People used to think of sushi as foreign muck but now everyone eats it. It's part of the furniture. They're like little chairs, set out in patterned rows of black and white, with delicate green mosaics of avocado. I love the haughtiness of the prawn as it stretches out on top of its bed of rice. Such a cheerful sight.

But the spread at Moto wasn't like that. The salmon looked pale, as though it'd just heard some bad news. Almost everything else was graffitied with a yellow drizzle - cheese, mustard, God knows what it was, or why they did it.

Sushi doesn't need a sauce. It doesn't sit right. It's like wanting Taylor Swift to wear a moustache.

The other option was the deep fried warming tray, but it was getting on to 2.30pm, and the only thing left were octopus balls.

I was anxious, confused, hungry. When in doubt, I spend, and my cheap bite to eat ended up costing $14. I ordered the chicken katsu udon.

The radio was on, and not for the first time I marvelled at George Harrison's guitar solo in Let It Be. It's such an awful song. McCartney is at his most pious, but Harrison walks into its slum like a man walking on to a yacht. He lets rip with an amazing solo, uncharacteristically jagged, ending on a high, sorrowful note.

The meal arrived. The soup was oily. The noodles looked like sails which had collapsed in the sea. The whole thing was depressing. There were 10 strips of chicken, which made me feel nostalgic for Texas Chicken - I'd gone there last week, further along Lincoln Rd.

I chopsticked the chicken out of the bowl like a man seizing on useful items which had survived a shipwreck. The chicken was okay, kind of bland. But then I discovered what could be done with the spring onions and small scraps of seaweed, and suddenly the meal was transformed.

I realised that the meal was Let It Be. Carefully placing the spring onion and seaweed on the chicken was George Harrison's majestic solo; it tasted wonderful, brought the meal alive, gave it a jolt.

But the moment passed. The chicken just became too waterlogged as it drowned in its oily puddle. Nothing could resuscitate it. The guitar solo had finished.

I approached a customer at another table and said, "How's yours?"

Leon Hauiti, 39, was eating chicken teriyaki sushi, and said, "Eight out of ten." He was a big fan of Moto, had been in maybe six or seven times, including a lunch with his sister when they spent over $40. "The service," he added, "is punctual."

It was a quality he admired. As a builder, he routinely works from 6am to 5pm and, in fact, had just worked 36 days straight. He specialises in laying concrete slabs, out at Hobsonville Point.

"Concrete moves around in mysterious ways," he said. "Pour it too fast and it'll bend your boxing. You won't believe it till you see it.

"It's hard on the body. You won't see an Asian on the slabs. On building sites, yes, but I haven't come across one yet on the slabs. It's mostly Pacific Islanders, big men."

He looked like he could handle himself. But he was also an artist, carving bone, gemstones, and petrified wood. He was so happy to have the day off at last and I was pleased that he'd enjoyed his meal at Moto, but I needed something - not to take the taste away of my meal but to introduce a taste, any taste.

Le K K Bakery's chocolate lamington was a winner. Photo /  Michael Craig
Le K K Bakery's chocolate lamington was a winner. Photo / Michael Craig

I popped next door to Le K K Bakery. I eyed the long, round, and chocolate moments; I considered the apricot, blueberry, and chocolate danish; but I was always going to order a chocolate lamington.

It was one of the best I've eaten in my life. The sponge was moist, the icing rich and dark - the lamington was the Revolver album, perfectly formed.

- NZ Herald

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