Friday, November 15th, 2019
Reviewed by Linda Scarborough
Ashley Moss is at the helm in the kitchen here after his stint at Greenhouse, where he and Pete Tempelhoff impressed the southern suburbs for many years. You can tell the shift to the city mood and mindset has inspired them, in this theatre where the interplay of Japanese and South African flavours, with the deft touch of skilled, experienced chefs, is expertly realised.
A series of bento boxes arrives first, inverting their origins as a convenient container for a humble home-made meal. A landscape of beautiful wooden frames, pebbles and trays presents artfully plated canapés such as Cape Malay-spiced guinea fowl lollipops, daikon wraps, enveloping spinach and warming sancho chilli, pinned by cherry-blossom-adorned forks that wouldn’t be amiss in a geisha’s hairdo. Kombu ‘spoons’ lend an incredible umami depth of flavour to just-cooked blue prawns with wakame and naartjie. Stark black buns filled with smooth smoked snoek are topped with delicate dried petals and sesame seeds for lightness. All the while, bone-marrow butter, rolled in caramelised onion ash, melts at the table, ready for dipping.
Next, a kaiseki tray features mini Wagyu-beef spring rolls served with pearly enoki mushrooms, finely chopped charred green beans and onion petals, with smoky truffley accents. The tender sea trout is a treat, with counterpoints in crunchy apple, crystalline dune spinach and tempura samphire. Sashimi slivers of game fish are draped over maki with ginger-and-avo mousse. Beautiful crockery resembles shells, rocks and wood, taking you to a shoreline.
Prepare for what is possibly the most memorable cheese sandwich of your life. It’s a masterstroke of frozen gorgonzola and white chocolate in warm, snappy brick pastry with a sticky port reduction.
Kaiseki-style dessert comes in three courses: strawberries, chamomile and little yoghurt flowers; blueberries with herbaceous buchu countered by soothing coconut; and bosveld cake with white coffee sauce, nut brittle and amarula.
Very polished and professional. Things move like clockwork. Waiters have excellent wine knowledge.
The wine list is an impressive 18 pages long, with plentiful options of anything you could possibly want in a glass of wine or Japanese whisky.
It’s like entering a theatre: moody, dramatic, breathtaking. The open kitchen is unlike any you’ve seen before, more down-lit performance art than hot, messy kitchen. While everything is calm, ordered and methodical – with the crew in neat, muted uniforms – the Japanese-inspired food is vibrant and confident. Windows let in the evening colours of blue, purple, silver and amber as the sun slips behind the mountain.
A spendy, luxurious night on the town.
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