At first sight Kiaora Japan (from the Rising Sun to the Long White Cloud) can best be described as quirky, if you want to be polite. It’s a Japanese restaurant that also sells pottery and hair accessories – and the pottery looks to be pretty good quality.


But good as it is, the pottery cannot match the food, which is delicious and probably a tad under-priced. Our table was having the lunchtime special, or rather three lunchtime specials – the $10 special and two of the of the more expensive $15.90 choices. All three included a small bowl of miso soup and a larger covered bowl of tandoori (teriyaki?) chicken on rice.


The $10 selection also had a couple of pieces of sushi, while the other two had sashimi (fresh, sliced raw fish with dipping sauce) in one case and tempura battered prawn and vegetables in the other case. A mug of green tea went well with my order, while the other two diners drank water.


Kiaora Japan is licensed, serving beer, sake and shochu (Japanese vodka of various types), plus fruit juices, fizzy drinks and an apple flavoured non-alcoholic drink that the drinks list claims looks like beer in the glass. The apple drink would go well with the kids’ menu.The food menu also included a big range of Japanese dishes, some listed as tapas, and including a wide selection of rice and noodle-based selections.


All three of us agreed that the service provided by two traditionally dressed Japanese waiting staff was good, especially since most tables were occupied and there was a steady but gentle flow of people calling in to pick up takeaway dishes. The small premises, half a block from Eat Streat, were spotless and hung with Japanese banners and other ornaments, with both indoor and outdoor tables. Portion sizes were ideal for lunch and the food was fresh, tasty and generally low-fat.


I’m OK but not great with chopsticks, so I probably should have asked for a spoon to help me deal with the rice – I noticed that one or two other diners did that – but overall we rated Kiaora Japan as well worth the visit. I’ll be back.


Total price of lunch for three: $46.00


Kiaora Rotorua is located at 1139 Tutanekai St, Rotorua.

Quirky Kiaora Japan meal delights

Reviewer Note


The Mud cafe reviews are undertaken on a 'mystery shopper' basis.  The reviews are followed up with a video and interview where possible. 

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