Makoto Tokuyama

Makoto Tokuyama

Cocoro, Auckland


Living in a Zen Buddhist temple meant Makoto’s mealtimes were always shared with the extended family, and often consisted of seafood wrangled from the nearby ocean that morning, fresh dishes of seasonal vegetables donated by nearby farmers, and an array of pickles, soup and rice, all prepared by his grandmother, Chizu.

Being near the Ariake Sea meant almost every day they ate fresh seafood. Makoto says that’s why he loves creating Cocoro’s signature sashimi platter, a striking masterpiece that showcases more than 30 different species.

“There used to be a local fish market close to my house. Every morning the fishmonger would go to the market and then come to my house in a small truck. My grandma would pick whatever she wanted, and in the evening she would fillet the fish for sashimi and use the whole fish including offcuts to feed the family.”

Makoto says this was how he was taught to respect ingredients and create very little waste — teachings he has carried with him through life and into his restaurant. When he thinks about the meals from home, it’s not a flavour but a feeling that he misses the most. His older brother now runs the temple and Makoto says sometimes when he visits, there can be up to 30 of his family members, who will all eat together and stay the night, “kind of like a party”.