EVERYBODY thinks their local sushi spot is the best and I know that by choosing only a handful I’m going to have loads of people telling me which ones I left out. That’s cool though – in fact, I’d love to hear them. Below are some of my picks…
It’s been around for ages now and is as famous for it’s eccentric owner (the guy in the Douglas Green advert from years back) as for the food. Which is unfair becasue the food alone sets it apart. It’s a bit dim and dingy but I find the kitchiness as being central to the charm. There are plenty of those cats waving their paws at you, there are psychedelic dragons and robes hanging on the walls, they’ve got the plastic tablecloths and worn carpets.
But the coolest (funniest?) thing is the strange pieces of hand-written A4 paper stuck all over the place with bizarre house rules, like “Only order once”. They deal with how many people are allowed at a table, how many people can order what, how many bottles of wine are allowed to be brought in, how long the wait will be and much more. It’s priceless.
It doesn’t matter though because the food is some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. There are some unusual creations but also some with a healthy slant. All the tempura is brilliant and I even tried avocado in tempura which is new for me. Don’t be fooled by its appearance, this one is a winner. 4 Buiten Street.
Whereas Minato was a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, Nobu sits on the other end of the sliding scale. It’s at The One&Only Hotel and has a glitzy, ballroom feel owing to the oversized furniture and huge double-volume space. You can sit at booths or regular tables and there are bigger tables for functions or groups but the best way to eat here is to sit at the sushi counter. Just put yourself in the hands of the master and watch him work.
He plays around with what is fresh on the day and just creates amazing food. Food you won’t see in this category anywhere else in the country. Every plate is unforgettable and every mouthful is something new. It’s not cheap -and it’s definitely to be seen as a splurge – but I don’t just rate Nobu as one of the best sushi restaurants in the country, I rate it as one of the best restaurants in the country.
This is a weird one for me because I should hate this restaurant but I don’t. Everything tells me I should hate it. It’s in a mall, the menu is way too big, the food isn’t cheap, there are often queues because you can’t book, service is pretty impersonal. So why do I love it? Well…the food I guess. Somehow they manage to get it right every time. It’s also more often than not packed so there’s generally quite a good vibe which helps.
The deep-fried rock lobster that sits on top of some of their sushi is ridiculous but I’m also a fan of the non-sushi options which you can order to enjoy between the mountains of sushi. Things like noodles, soups, salads, robata grills etc. are all good. Also, check out their deli section for fresh fish, oysters, mussles and a whole lot more. It’s very underrated. Their flagship branch is in the V&A Waterfront, but the Hyde Park Mall store also does seriously well up North.
When I’m in JHB I must say I quite enjoy eating at Melrose Arch. I think it’s got a bit of a European feel with everyone spilling out into the courtyard and sitting at tables on the pavement. My favourite place to eat there (and there are sh*tloads of choices) is Orient.
Like Willoughby’s it’s the stuff you order alongside the sushi that impresses me. Dim sum, peking duck and plenty of Vietnamese-inspired dishes too. Obviously the sushi needs to be good though and it is. Orient has a very cool cocktail bar and the overall feel is quite glamourous and OTT. It’s very Joburg for me. But in a cool way, not the Ed Hardy way. 4 High Street, Melrose Arch.
I’ve lumped these two in as one because they’re right next to each other in the Morningside Centre. I could be wrong but I’m guessing they use the same kitchen. Midori is the cheap and cheerful option with plastic chairs and a fun decor, while Tsunami takes itself and the food a bit more seriously. Both are cool for different occasions though, depending on your mood. Good service and well-priced food for their categories. Morningside Centre, Rivonia Road, Sandton.
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