Ilse van der Merwe
Genki has been winning the hearts of local Stellenbosch food aficionados for years, and there’s good reason why. This little authentic sushi and tapas bar keeps making some of the best Japanese food around, with a menu that changes often and keeps regulars coming back for more. Apart from a varied sushi menu that includes new-style sashimi, tataki, rolls, hand rolls, reloaded rolls, nigiri, roof racks and roses, you’ll also find line fish sashimi and pickled mackerel. Platter options will delight those with a bigger appetite. Their popular tempura is done with tiger prawns, line fish, shiitake mushrooms, vegetables and calamari.
Other menu items include miso soup, udon noodle soup, octopus salad, yaki soba stir fried noodles and various bento-box options. Or stick with the Japanese tapas menu of crispy bang-bang prawns, age-dashi tofu, yakitori grilled skewers and edamame – to name a few.
Daily chalk-board specials include exotic items like soft shell crab tempura, prawn dumplings and much more.
A carefully considered wine list from mostly Stellenbosch estates complements the menu offering. They serve a limited list of local beers and ciders. Do check out their list of sake (hot or cold) and Japanese beers for a full authentic experience.
Service is attentive, friendly and swift. As everything is made fresh on the spot, they ask that you keep that in mind when ordering.
This place is small, cosy, simple and traditional. Black and red dominates the colour scheme. In summer, the tables on the courtyard are most popular. In winter, opt for a table indoors or in the adjacent glass room.
There’s a small but enticing dessert menu too. Look out for the black sesame seed ice cream with salted miso caramel.
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Hetta van Deventer Terblanche
It is with good reason that this quaint little restaurant is such a popular Stellenbosch spot for Japanese tapas and sushi. The food is excellent, the ingredients are of top quality and dishes are artistically presented. The chefs prepare everything fresh and can be observed from behind the open-plan kitchen counter. Japanese tapas such as edamame (steamed and salted soy beans), dainty yakitori grilled skewers or classic miso soup features on the regular menu. Delicate prawn dumplings from the specials menu are served with a beautifully balanced sweet-sour-savoury sauce. New-style warm sashimi will tantalize even the most glutted palates, while tradition is given a little twist with reloaded rainbow rolls. The tempura offering (which includes shiitaki mushrooms, vegetables, fish or prawns) is feather light and exquisite. An extensive selection of sushi, nigiri and maki can be ordered individually or as mixed platters to share.
The wine menu shows support for local Stellenbosch brands, with a variety of whites and white blends that compliment the food. There’s also sake and Japanese beers, and the specials board offers some good value for money options.
Friendly and helpful. Staff members are eager to explain and recommend dishes to the uninitiated.
The space shows traditional Japanese interior, with paper lanterns decorating the ceiling and economical use of space. The action spills out onto a shady courtyard, which is buzzing with activity and late night diners.
It is advisable to keep an eye on the daily specials board for house specialities and interesting twists to old time favourites.
The fare at this little gem in downtown Stellenbosch is high on umami, that elusive savoury taste which brings all the other sweet, salty, spicy and sour flavours together in a magical synergy.
Prepared with top-quality ingredients, the seafood is very fresh and plated with the artistry that has made this sushi bar a landmark in the winelands. Setting a local benchmark for authentic Japanese cuisine, the miso is a classic, while the tempura is light and ethereal.
House specialties include the spider roll (crispy soft-shell crab), prawn dumplings, squid tentacles with seven-spice mayo dip, and tempura prawn roll. The warm new-style sushi and sashimi will excite the most jaded taste buds, and the menu is refreshed by daily blackboard specials.
Consistently delivering above expectation, Genki hits the spot and goes well beyond the standard sushi and sashimi offering. End on a surprise note with a deep-fried cream cheese spring roll.
They offer a small, well-selected wine list by glass and bottle, plus some beer and sake at good value.
Efficient and well heeled, with sound advice on mixing old and new-style sushi.
The experience is of intimate Japanese dining at a charming little venue with black tables and paper lanterns. Alternatively, the square is a great spot for lunch and watching passersby.
If you’re stuck for choice, ask the celebrated owner Arata Koga (who runs his own sushi academy) for advice, or stick to the reliable bento box standards.
Not visible from the road, this restaurant is a gem for those that are in the know. The menu is dominated by sushi, but there is a selection of Japanese ‘tapas’, which includes various tempuras and the popular crispy soft-shell crab.
While sake lovers are catered for, the wine list offers a decent selection of wines at very reasonable prices (most for under R100). The wines indicate their Platter star rating.
Seating only 18 inside and a few more outside when the weather permits, the restaurant has a limited number of staff, which means that when the restaurant fills up the service can be limited too.
This is a very cosy spot with a dark wood interior and a ceiling covered with lanterns. The kitchen is open, but visiting the lavatory will involve a trip through the scullery.
The bento box lunch specials are amazing value for money. They also have a private dining room for up to eight people. (DV, October 2012)