Daruma (Durban)

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Reviewed by The Fay Way

Daruma authentic Japanese restaurant and Teppanyaki is located on the ground floor of the TsogoSun Elangeni Hotel right on the Durban beach front. We were looking forward to visiting this restaurant because hubby is a bit of a Japanese culture enthusiast. Our Friday evening dinner reservation was set for 6pm but I will say that although 6pm is, for us, a good time for dinner, it seems that everyone else dines at 8pm. We were the first to arrive and although the restaurant was empty, doors closed a few minutes before 6pm, we were ushered inside and seated with a friendly smile albeit with some expressions of confusion.

Seating at Daruma includes general seating around either a small or large Teppanyaki stations which seats between 8 and 12 people. Individual tables are also available and I was glad that I requested to be seated at the Teppanyaki. On booking over the phone I was asked where we would prefer to sit (table or Teppanyaki?) I responded that since it was our first visit, which would they recommend. Table. Really? Hmmmm no I think we’ll sit at the Teppanyaki station rather. Excellent choice as it turned out. We shared our station with a couple on what seemed to be their first date (very sweet) and a family of four complete with rebel goth boySti and grundge girl stuck to her iphone. The fun part was that the couple on the one side just went about their date, chatting and getting to know one another without getting into our space or even acknowledging our existence. The dad of the family on the other side was quite the joker and engaged us a little with some humor. At no time did we feel that our privacy was impeded even though we were all seated beside one another. What fun. Already feeling very Japanese!

Drinks menu at Daruma is nice and varied. Besides the very impressive five star wines and champagnes available, they also had a small selection of traditional Japanese Sake (warm or cold) as well as Jin ro sho-chu which is a Korean brand of rice wine.

GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka) is one of my favourite Japanese Anime series; in the cartoon, Onizuka makes a big deal about a sushi dish that includes Toro; he seems completely horrified that his student just dumps the container containing this “toro” in the bin without even a second glance. I google. Toro is a fatty cut of tuna and according to my research is a Otoro in particular is a most valued ingredient in authentic Japanese sushi. So to honor the Great Teacher Onizuka, we order toro sashimi. No stock. Argh. No. really? Deflated and a little peeved, we order a sushi platter that includes at least something we’ve not tried before. Sashimi Marlin which had a delicate flavour compared to the accompanying tuna and creamy salmon sashimi. I approve with a smile. You have to when every mouthful is so pleasant.

The menu includes not only quite an extensive sushi menu, but also an option to have a la carte or set menu teppan yaki, or individual a la carte dishes. The set teppan yaki menu allows for some choice in the mains of either beef, chicken or lamb. With a price tag of around R240 for a three course meal, we decided that this was a worthwhile option and ordered the beef.

Starter on the set menu included a Japanese style salad (shaved carrot topped with shaved cabbage drizzled with vinegar dressing, rice noodles with soy dressing and seaweed.) Although this is not really my idea of a salad, I was eager to embrace my authentic Japanese experience and maneuvered my chopsticks like a professional and found the salad to be refreshing, particularly after the distinctive flavours we encountered in our sushi platter.

The second part of our starter was a sticky teriyaki marinade chicken kebab called Yaki tori. Sweet, tender and very tasty.

And then our teppanyaki chef arrived, raw ingredient dishes balancing on his arms. Simphewe. Not the most traditional of Japanese names, but as traditional as South African can be. Professional and deft with his teppan yaki spatulas, Simphewe proceeded to clean and oil the hot station and entertain us with balancing eggs, super fast dicing omelets, and hopping bits of fried steak onto our plates. Stir fried vegetables, beef fillet and egg fried rice made for a very filling main meal indeed. The beef could have been seasoned a bit more, but perhaps the way teppan yaki is performed it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much seasoning to use; perhaps Simphewe will improve this over time.

Our dessert was very simple, flavoured ice cream; chocolate or green tea flavoured.
Please log in to reply to this review.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Promoted Restaurants