This is some of the freshest food you’ll find in the city and it shows. At USA-born Scott Wood’s Japanese oasis, seafood shines bright with minimalist flavours and perfect technique in both raw and cooked dishes.
If you’re starting with sushi, try the sashimi starter with delicate pieces of tuna, salmon and Cape salmon. The fresh morsels are elegantly served with a moreish shaved daikon radish, freshly grated wasabi root and pickled ginger. If it’s texture you’re after, the air-like tempura-covered vegetables offer crunchy satisfaction with lotus root, broccoli, peppers, aubergine, and sweet potato.
For mains, the silky udon noodles with duck is rich with umami-flavoured broth and tender duck while fresh spring onions and nori add texture to the dish. The warm bowl is satisfying and complex with savoury flavours, best enjoyed with the big wooden ladle provided and the dainty chopsticks.
Seafood mains are subtly seasoned, bringing out the very best of the good produce. The steamed kingklip is presented bursting with fresh flavours on a cabbage leaf in a bamboo pot. Sides are served separately, but for this the Japanese grilled mushrooms with shiitake, shimeji, enoki, eringi, ukidake and oyster are exquisite. A bowl of steamed rice or sautéed Japanese vegetables should also do the trick.
End things off with a scoop of the moreish black sesame seed ice cream, which is served with extra seeds for a pleasing texture. It’s the ideal dessert for those who prefer things a little less sweet – otherwise go for the cherry blossom ice cream with chocolate.
The Japanese-style cocktails are stylishly served and include interesting mixtures of Japanese sake, plum wine and ginger, while the slightly pricy but good wine list offers familiar labels that work well with Asian flavours. If you’re after hard tack, the Japanese whiskey offering will impress enthusiasts.
Attentive and efficient. Soy sauce is poured out of beautiful ceramic jugs – an elegant touch.
Stepping off heaving Kloofnek Road and into this beautiful calm oasis is almost jolting, in the best possible sense. The serene interior transports you to a fine-dining Japanese restaurant or stylish New York spot where soft lighting and music and a trickling fountain complement neutral-hued minimalist décor.
Book a spot at the sushi bar and watch chef Koshi Koyama’s impressive skills in action.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
Don’t order the sushi or sashimi. Not that there’s anything wrong with it; it’s as good as you get anywhere in Cape Town. It’s just that Kyoto offers so much more than that – it is a journey through some of the most intriguing aspects of the delicacy, subtlety and enduring flavours of Japanese cuisine.
Throw caution to the wind and put yourself in the safe hands of USA-born owner, Scott Wood. If you’ve never quite understood the concept of umami, then clams steamed over sake or the signature soup – The Sea – with its bounty of saline delights in a full-flavoured miso broth, will make the concept crystal clear. If you’re feeling a little less adventurous, the ceviche or the Wagyu beef carpaccio provide the same pleasure. The batter for the tempura is feather-light and the centre, whether vegetables or protein, is crisp and delicious.
The choice of mains is agonising – everything tempts all the senses. Steamed fish in a bamboo pot is melt-in-the-mouth tender, or take a walk through the Alaskan night – a combo of lusciously tasty seared salmon, giant Alaskan scallop and Alaskan king crab. If you do order sushi or sashimi, expect ginger and wasabi of quality equal to the rest of the meal. For the vegetarians there are delicious salads, broths, vegetable tempura and exotic mushroom dishes. Cherry blossom ice cream with chocolate or black sesame seed ice cream will finish your meal in style.
There’s been a recent, and welcome, improvement in the wine list, with a very decent selection of cuisine-suitable wines now being offered by the glass. There’s a good number of Japanese beers, and the cocktail menu is extensive and interesting. Shoga is gin, ginger, lime and Cap Classique – it’s thrilling. And Scott’s collection of Japanese whisky is about as extensive as you’ll get outside of Japan.
Informed, friendly and watchful.
Zen minimalism informs the restful décor. Wood and paper in cool and tranquil colours dominate the design. There’s also an element of sly wit (the ladies' room door is marked 'Su-she'.)
If Scott offers otoro – the fatty belly of the blue fin tuna, taken from near the head – accept. It’s very pricey, but worth every bite.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.