After so many years, 1890 still feels like home. You could start with spring rolls or soup (miso, tom yum or won ton), but why not just dive straight into the sushi? It’s always excellent, with enough traditional and more modern (mayo-drizzled) options to keep anyone happy. The best part is seeing what you like, laid out so beautifully on colour-coded plates, and grabbing it straight away. Veg rainbow rolls (topped with the most delicate of red and green chilli slices), prawn tempura Cali rolls, edamame beans, seared tuna salad, roses, hand rolls, sweet crunchy tuna… The carousel is endless.
If you’re feeling like something hot, sticky and saucy, there’s a range of stir-fried noodle and rice dishes featuring proteins such as duck, beef, pork, chicken and seafood with sauces including kung pow, sweet and sour, oyster, and green and red curry. All the bases are pretty much covered.
The small selection of desserts is ice-cream based – battered and deep fried, or served with chocolate sauce or fried banana – but rather just fill the gap with another plate of sushi. You know you want to.
Choose from a menu of soft drinks, standard hard tack (including sake) or local beers. While wine may not be the best choice for this type of cuisine, the one-page menu of local options is pretty solid, with very affordable wines available by the glass or bottle.
You can never tire of watching these most expert sushi chefs at work slicing, trimming, rolling and shaking. The waiters, who take orders for drinks and anything you don’t grab off conveyor belt, are mostly young students who are friendly and keen to please.
The conveyor belt in the front room is hot property (do phone ahead to book), but if you have a larger group or want some more intimacy, you can find a table in the more dimly lit back rooms. You’ll find yourself amongst young couples, bohemian families and old friends. It’s an eclectic neighbourhood mix of regulars. Fairy lights and some posters liven up the space, which feels comfortable and cosy.
If you’re concerned about parking on the street, find a bay in Pepper Square parking lot on Nuttall Road around the corner. It’s affordable and worth the peace of mind.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
Bernadette le Roux
One of the most under-rated sushi restaurants in Cape Town, at this hidden local gem you will find Japanese food artistry of the highest order. Garnishes are hand-carved and sushi beauteous. The sushi conveyor belt is convenient for a quick lunch or dinner and always well stocked with favourite menu items such as the seared tuna salad, spicy prawn on bean curd and caviar sandwiches. Classics like salmon roses and rainbow rolls abound for the less adventurous. Portions are generous at very affordable prices – it’s obvious that the owners know their clientele, who are mostly students from nearby UCT residences. An extensive Chinese menu and a couple of Thai options are also available, but the sushi steals the show.
The wine list is limited but there are by the glass options for a quick sushi-belt lunch.
Service is laid back in a modest, friendly sort of way but don’t expect silver service as both the staff and the clientele are mostly students passing through.
Situated in a quaint old Observatory home that has been converted to a restaurant, there are many seating options: a covered, indoor patio at the back, which is ideal for romantics; a courtyard beside the bar; and the counter-style seating at the conveyer belt at the entrance. It’s certainly not lacking in charm by night and is always buzzing.
Take care where you park at night, as this is not the best neighbourhood.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.