Review: Delaire Graff’s new Japanese-inspired HŌSEKI offers a plethora of small plates with top-notch service

Fast facts 

Restaurant name: HŌSEKI

Address: Delaire Graff Estate, Helshoogte Road, Stellenbosch

Phone number: 021 885 8160

Operating hours: Open daily, Lunch: 12noon to 4pm (last seating at 2pm), Dinner: 6pm to 11pm (last seating at 8pm)

Average price of a main course: R450 to R1 250

Corkage fee: No BYO

Parking situation: On-site, secure

Food type: Contemporary Japanese

After many years of taking diners on a voyage through Asia, venturing into Thailand, Cambodia and India in the previous restaurant space of Indochine, chef Virgil Kahn’s newest culinary journey has now ventured into the Land of the Rising Sun – Japan. HŌSEKI, named after the Japanese word for jewel (paying homage to the estate’s owner and renowned diamantaire Laurence Graff OBE), is the newest offering on the Delaire Graff Estate, and is certain to become a jewel itself in the winelands restaurant scene.


The menu is heavily seasonal with herbs and vegetables sourced from the on-site greenhouse and is divided into various subsections, ranging from sushi to soups, salads, cold dishes and hot items from the robata grill. The concept is to order many smaller plates and travel through the various provinces and techniques of Japan. The offering is large and extensive, and the front-of-house team must be given huge praise and credit for such a thorough knowledge of the menu, despite its length and volume.


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Virgil’s extensive research into the country and its regions to ensure authenticity must be commended, as well as being able to thread his own influence through the fabric of the dishes. The freshest tuna nigiri and spicy tuna cut roll begin the experience, with the tuna cut roll lovingly adhered to crispy tempura batter, giving a much-welcome crunch and texture to the soft rice interior.

Beef gyoza (potstickers) pack a punch of umami, with marinated shiitake mushrooms and crispy spring onion, while the crumbed and fried karaage chicken with chilli mayonnaise dip brings a polite warmth of heat to awaken the senses. Kuyishake Cape Wagyu beef ‘skewers’ balance atop a bowl of truffle rice with a complexity of flavour delivered through the salinity of seaweeds and salts of soy in its seasoning. It’s an incredible experience to be shared.


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The wine list is generous, with its listings going beyond just the Delaire Estate wines and is carefully curated to be able to offer a little something of everything. Signature cocktails and mixers are an available option as well – especially for those hot summer days outdoors, they can offer a refreshing breeze of exciting flavours and combinations.


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The welcome is very warm and genuine from the estate staff, with professionalism and pride noticed throughout the estate on your way to the restaurant. Service is wonderfully refreshing, and echoes an almost familiarity – the type of friendliness and wholesomeness exuded as if we are seeing one another again after time spent apart. It’s brilliantly seamless, and a hard line to balance, but the staff execute it with an ease and grace.


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The iconic ‘Swallows in Flight’ art installation that was created by André Stead working in collaboration with Lionel Smit, is a showpiece in the blue and copper restaurant space, and now brings an even greater meaning because in Japanese culture, the swallow represents good luck.


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Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here


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