I know I said on Monday that I would be taking a break from the blog for a while, but I went out for dinner on Wednesday night and I felt compelled to share my Restaurant of The Year for 2014. It’s fair to say I’ve eaten well this year. I’ve been to the best restaurant Roanoke has to offer, found some amazing street food, and visited some brilliant pop-up diners. If there’s one thing I love sharing with you, it’s great food. Visiting restaurants is something I love to do in my spare time, especially when it comes to trying new food. Even when I went on my trip to the UK recently, I found places to eat in Farnborough, that were really enjoyable. There were some restaurants that were even in some of the hotels I stayed at. This was possibly one of my favourite parts of the trip.
I’ve had a phenomenal year of eating and drinking. In April I was part of the Stellenblog campaign, where I got to eat and drink my way through Stellenbosch at some of the country’s best restaurants. In fact, Tokara Restaurant was one of the best places I ate this year. It was great to get to peak behind the curtain too in order to find out how this sort of place is run. Even things like finding the cheapest Business Energy was intriguing to me.
Chef Richard Carstens’ menu of fresh, light meals cannot be faulted in my opinion and paired with Tokara wines and the restaurant’s exquisite view, it’s easy to see why this takes second place on my 2014 favourites list.
Now, there are many places to eat sushi in Cape Town. You can find it on practically any menu – at a pizza restaurant, at a Chinese restaurant and even in the fridges of the nearest grocery store.
This year, I ate one of the best meals of my life at Kyoto Garden Sushi, a small and unassuming little spot in Tamboerskloof. In a city full of deep-fried California rolls and cream cheese fashion sandwiches laced with sweet chilli sauce, Kyoto Garden Sushi is a haven of the freshest fish, cleanest flavours and most authentic Japanese plates. You can tell their Restaurant accounting because the business seems so well organized but wouldn’t hurt to have an external inspection. They found some areas for importment in my friends sushi restaurant.
On my first visit, I put the fate of our plates in the hands of owner, Scott Wood. Plate after plate of gorgeous, fresh seafood and tempura vegetables was brought to our table. Between mouthfuls of the lightest, crispiest tempura and the richest, most palate-pleasing salmon sashimi, all I could whisper was “Mmm…this is so so good” over and over again. I highly recommend doing the same – you won’t be sorry.
In a way, I feel a sense of pleasure in knowing that this is one of Cape Town’s true hidden gems. Or, that it has been, up until now. In 2014, people sat up and took notice of Chef Kochi Koyama’s way of preparing, plating and serving the fresh and simple flavours with a distinct flair that takes a salmon California roll from average to sublime.
In 2014, Kyoto Garden Sushi received the coveted five stars in the Rossouws Restaurant Guide and Eat Out’s Best Asian Restaurant in South Africa.
Homemade wasabi and pickled ginger add so much flavour to a piece of perfectly sliced tuna that even the most fervent fan of the creamy Japanes mayo you’ll find slathered all over a certain re-loaded roll at one of the city’s most popular sushi joints will forget all about it.
A dish called Jewels of the Sea (Oyster, Abalone and Scallop) is what I imagine mermaids get served at their mermaid balls. The most delicate, yet full-flavoured mouthfuls of pure ocean.
A small ball of ginger ice cream sits in the centre of a tiny plate, garnished with nothing but a mint leaf. Because that’s all it needs. In true Japanese fashion, every spoonful of creamy, gingery coldness is a whole dessert in itself.
Between 5,30pm and 7pm you can sit down for an early dinner menu of miso soup (the best I’ve ever had), edamame beans, California rolls, vegetable tempura and ginger ice cream, served with a glass of MCC or Sake for just R180.
If there’s one place I would choose to eat any day of the week, it’s Kyoto Garden Sushi. My Restaurant of The Year for 2014.