Cheyne Morrisby (of Cheyne’s and Lucky Bao in Hout Bay) has taken his Asian-influenced cooking to the city with his new izakaya in the heart De Waterkant. Nikita Buxton nabs a table at the already-popular SHIO.
Parking: Can be a bit tricky on Napier Street, so get there early or take a taxi
Serves: Modern Japanese-influenced tapas
Best for: A trendy dinner with friends
Price: R85 on average for a tapas dish
Star ratings: Food 5, service 4, ambience 4
The cleverly thought-out menu at SHIO has something for everyone. It’s all about tapas-style eating here, which means you can share with the table or order a few dishes for yourself. The Earth section features many vegetable dishes with the likes of duck-fat fries and grilled tofu salad, but it’s the spinach ohitashi that hits the spot. This Japanese salad is made up of raw spinach leaves, a slightly spicy sesame dressing, and crushed roasted peanuts for crunch. It’s moreish, light and full of umami flavour.
In the Sea portion of the menu you’ll find melt-in-your-mouth yellowtail sashimi with crisp apple slices and yuzu grape gel, oven-roasted kingklip, and crispy soft-shell crab. The chilli-salt squid served with green-chilli caramel and a lime-and-ginger aioli has that popcorn effect – you keep going back for more. With West Coast rock lobster now on the SASSI red list, we’re happy to hear that they’ve replaced this on the menu with sweet and plump tempura prawns. Sadly, there were no tuna tacos available; we’ve heard they’re something special.
For something meaty, there’s everything from duck to pork belly chashu. We recommend the beef short rib gyoza, though. These golden half moons are filled with spicy, unctuous meat, Fuji apple, tamarind and chilli. Great for hungry diners.
End off with the tonka-bean dark chocolate. This ultimate dessert bowl is filled with thick, smooth ganache-like chocolate and topped off with coffee gel, black-sesame snap and a miso butterscotch that perfectly offsets the bitterness. It’s rich and definitely needs to be shared.
The wine list is small but has a few by-the-glass options as well as bottles ranging from reasonable to expensive. There is also a small selection of sake and good dessert wines.
Friendly, informative and swift.
SHIO is a perfect vibey night-time spot: moody, dark and edgy. Neon red signage adds a glow to the navy walls and a feature wall of Japanese graffiti adds drama. If it’s a lovely warm day, nab a table outside next to the cobbled street.
End your meal off with a kick and order the Kyoto coffee with double espresso, Nikka Pure Malt Black Whisky, and coconut cream.
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