But if it’s sushi you’re after, you’re in the right place. From the standard California rolls to the famous 4x4 rolls with creamy rock shrimp, each bite of sushi is well-made and full of fresh flavour.
Besides the wide selection of sushi and platters, there is a number of cold and hot Japanese dishes from which to choose. The options include satisfying grilled crispy rice topped with hot and spicy salmon or chopped prawn; rich salmon grenades (salmon roses filled with spicy chopped salmon and mayo, and topped with tempura and spring onion); grilled yakitori chicken; and crispy yet tender soft-shell crab with ponzu sauce.
For more traditional tastes, sole, calamari and good ol' fish and chips get a look in too.
If you can fit in anything else, the desserts include classics like mille feuille, crème brûlée and malva pudding. Or go retro with a whisky Dom Pedro to round off the meal.
The restaurant does not mess around when it comes to the menu. The list of options is almost daunting but we find peace when we get to the familiar sushi menu. To mix things up a bit, we start off with some lighter starters. The hot and spicy tom yum soup is great for cooler weather: The generous portion of broth is filled with plump prawns and has a moreish flavour. Tofu lovers can also enjoy a slightly smaller portion of soup with the complex tofu miso.
But if it’s sushi you’re after, you’re in the right place. From the standard California rolls to the famous 4x4 rolls with creamy rock shrimp, each bite of sushi is well made and full of fresh flavour.
Besides the wide selection of sushi and platters, there are a number of cold and hot Japanese dishes from which to choose. The options include satisfying grilled crispy rice topped with hot and spicy salmon or chopped prawn; rich salmon grenades (salmon roses filled with spicy chopped salmon and mayo, and topped with tempura and spring onion); grilled yakitori chicken; and crispy yet tender soft-shell crab with ponzu sauce.
If you can fit in anything else, the desserts include classics like mille feuille, crème brûlée and malva pudding. Feeling stuffed to the gills, we opt for a kick of whiskey Dom Pedro to round off the meal.
The reasonably priced wine list boasts some good local options with nearly all available by the glass. If you’re lucky, you’ll be offered a wine taster in the queue or at your table by an on-site wine farm rep.
The restaurant is known not to accept reservations, but the wait is rarely long. (You can also enjoy a complimentary glass of wine while you wait.) Food is served speedily to turn over tables, and the staff are knowledgeable but appear a little rushed.
With the majority of the tables located in the thoroughfare of the shopping centre, the ambience leaves a little to be desired. If you’d prefer, there is seating inside at the counters.
There is a wine store and fish counter inside with some great take-home options.
Strange as it might sound, Joburgers sometimes dream of this Capetonian establishment’s 4 x 4… It’s not a large car they’re hankering for however, but one of the most popular signature dishes from the Japanese kitchen at this reputable seafood and sushi restaurant. The combination of Rainbow Reloaded (rainbow rolls with 7-spice, sesame oil and spring onions) with Creamy Rock Shrimp (spicy tuna inside a maki roll, wrapped in soy bean paper topped with rock shrimp tempura) is entirely satisfying. Besides a wide selection of sushi, there are other hot and cold Japanese dishes, including robatayaki (barbecue-style Japanese cuisine) and tempura on offer. The soft-shelled crab with ponzu dressing is particularly light, crisp and moreish. There are a few seafood pastas, and of the more traditional seafood dishes, the baby sole, when available, is delicate and perfectly cooked. Ordering a side of grilled calamari tubes to accompany the English fish and chips will go far to please a healthy appetite.
The wine list is almost entirely local, featuring a good selection of favourites, many available by the glass, and most within a comfortable price range.
It’s no surprise that there is almost always a queue to be seated (they don’t accept reservations), but it’s unusual to stand very long, and you’ll often be offered a wine tasting while you wait. Service can vary from charming to perfunctory, but staff is well informed about the menu.
The majority of the tables are located in the thoroughfare of the mall, so there’s little left to the imagination. You can also opt to sit inside at the counters overlooking the food preparation.
If you’re more inclined to feast at home, there is a fish counter, which should be first port of call to pick up the freshest of fresh fish, as well as a wine shop, where you can enjoy a quick tasting.
With a beautiful sushi bar at the centre of the restaurant and a full staff compliment of Japanese chefs, it’s no wonder that Willoughby's has a long-standing reputation for some of the best sushi in town. Sampling delights like the Rainbow Reloaded roll might convince you as well.
The extensive menu does, however, also include non-sushi options, such as a few pastas and a nice selection of mains with seafood as the star. The Japanese Kitchen section on the menu offers some very interesting choices. A must-try in the hot part of this section is the crispy soft-shell crab – pure joy, and served with an option of different dips. On the cold section of this menu, the seared beef tataki is also highly recommended: consisting of seared, thinly sliced black-pepper fillet topped with crispy garlic and spring onion as well as a spicy garlic dressing, it’s heaven for any garlic lover and full of interesting textures.
Portion sizes are fair, and overall you can look forward to an excellent marriage of flavours in the food.
They offer a smallish, serviceable wine list, ranging from a few easy drinkers like Fairview to a couple of excellent wines from Ataraxia. All the wines are available by the carafe, averaging R35-R63.
A fair number of waiters are on hand to take care of patrons and to ensure that traffic flows nicely. You’ll find them well versed on the menu and able to recite specials with ease.
Although this family-friendly restaurant is located in a mall, you soon forget about this little detail, wrapped as you are in the buzz of the many satisfied customers enjoying their food.
Note that they don’t take reservations, so if you arrive on balmy nights or summer weekends, you’ll have to fall in with the line of hopefuls snaking out the door. They do, however, do takeaways and also have a deli section with fresh fish.
Sushi, sushi, sushi. It’s so good you’ll forgive the mall location. Their consistency is legendary – as proven by their constant stream of diners. Order tuna sashimi salad and Rainbow Reloaded, or any sushi rolls. (EO mag 2014)
Some people say this is the best seafood in the city and they may be right. Certainly, the Japanese kitchen offers superb value for money with tempura dishes; fabulous salmon miso yaki, marinated and grilled with a special miso sauce; and the grilled beef fillet teriyaki. The menu is vast but all eyes are on the seafood, like homemade fishcakes; English-style fish and chips; prawn and fish curry, either Thai or Cape Malay; and seafood gumbo with chorizo sausage. Desserts include the usual suspects, but try the Italian grappa, a shot of espresso, biscotti, or a liqueur chocolate for a sophisticated ending.
Excellent wine list with various options on how to drink: by carafe, glass or bottle.
Usually very good, but can slow a bit when they are really busy.
Once you’ve been, you’ll know why diners stand in line in a busy shopping mall to eat here. Intimate dining is out of the question, but it’s nice and busy and very Cape Town, watching the passing parade go by while they watch you just a bit enviously.
Do visit their tiny wine shop, either to choose wine for your meal or to take some home – at very good prices. (GL, October 2012)