YUZU Kitchen & Bar, new on Kloof Street in Cape Town, is a concept eatery that marries Western and Eastern food cultures with an edgy rock ’n roll theme – a welcome replacement for the tired fishmonger whose place it has taken. The cuisine was conceptualised and spearheaded by Michelin-star trained chef, Rikku Ó’Donnchü.
Serves: Japanese-inspired cuisine
Parking: Street parking on Kloof Street
Best for: A drink and bite with friends
Rating: Food 3, service 3, ambience 4
Expect a menu packed with daring combinations of Japanese and western flavours, and some a little more familiar. Options such as the roasted beets with goat’s milk curd and satay dressing, and an Asian Caesar salad with tempura egg yolk certainly sound like interesting starters. On the more traditional side, the Danger Dumplings (sweet and sour spicy pork dumplings) and sushi could also be a good way to get the meal started.
Our choices, the beetroot-and-gin cured salmon maki with black-garlic rice, and the Tuna Crunch, a deep-fried sushi roll topped with sweet chilli, are a daring step away from tradition. The combination of flavours in both is delicious, however the consistency of the black rice and the mouth feel of warm sushi does not quite hit the mark. The traditional sushi options on the menu, like rainbow rolls, nigiri and sashimi, might be better choices.
Onto YUZU’s signature dish, the Rock-and-Roll Ramen, for our next course. The pork belly dish is slightly disappointing, with a scant serving of noodles floating in an over-salted, meekly flavoured broth. However, the stars of this dish are the Western-style pork scotch egg and the beautifully tender pork belly. The ramen is also offered with an option of tofu, chicken, line fish or Wagyu beef.
The sesame-coated Wagyu short rib with a whisky-and-molasses glaze is a sheer triumph: The tender, melting-off-the-bone short rib with masala mash leaves us licking the plate and savouring every piece of this slender portion. Also try the Kung Fu Katsu, a crispy chicken katsu burger served with wasabi mayo and fries. South African heritage is also celebrated with the inclusion of a snoek maki roll and Ma se Malva dessert, traditional malva pudding with an Asian twist, on the menu.
The eleven-page bar menu should satisfy every thirst. Choose from a good selection of wines, local and international bubbly, beer, sake, vodka, whisky, rum, gin and tequila. The outstanding cocktails deserve a special mention. We finish off our meal with The Bill, bacon-infused Jack Daniel’s honey whisky with smoky maple syrup and candied bacon, and the Bain’s Banoffee All-Day Breakfast, with whisky, banana liqueur, banana, peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, toffee sauce and peanut brittle.
The service is friendly and keen. At such a popular new restaurant, a little more attention needs to be paid to guests once they are seated, however, and the service between courses.
The large restaurant is split into two spaces: a large bar at the entrance with an indoor dining area, and a courtyard at the back. The look and feel takes inspiration from Ó’Donnchü’s love of rock ’n roll and martial arts, incorporating a number of eye-catching and authentic Japanese design elements such as an imported samurai sword and a beer dispenser fashioned from former lethal weaponry. YUZU is a feast for the eyes.
This is definitely a cool spot to meet for a drink and bite on trendy Kloof Street.
Eat Out reviewers dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.