Chef Christina Semczyszyn offers an eight-course set menu that kicks off with sakizuke – amuse bouche. Three small bites encapsulate the flavour and precision with which this cuisine is often associated: the ramen egg – a tempura quail’s egg, sprinkled with furikake, is a hit of crunchy texture and umami; a small square of light dofu, similar to tofu but made with ground sesame paste and arrowroot starch; and an aubergine croquette, rich with cheese.
The next course brings sashimi – hay-smoked tuna with chive-and-ginger paste; trout with ponzu; and a West Coast oyster with kimchi jelly and pickled cucumber. The flavours are clean and fresh, and the fish locally and sustainably sourced. The suimono (things to sip) course is a chilled avocado-and-dashi soup with tenkasu crumbs (crisp fried tempura batter) and wild garlic oil. The soup is light and refreshing, with the tenkasu adding a pleasant crunch. The hassun, or bread course, will leave you wanting more.
A naturally fermented buckwheat milk bun, whipped tofu (surprisingly rich and buttery) topped with carrot-top pesto (an example of the chef’s commitment to minimal waste), miso salt, trout terrine, kombu gribiche and senbei, a traditional Japanese cracker. It’s tempting to devour it all, but save space for the remaining courses.
Next up is the mushimono course, a savoury baked custard with chopped mussels, samphire and trout roe. It’s steamed and served in a teacup – one of the few Japanese dishes eaten with a spoon. Eggy and rich, the steamed samphire offers freshness, while the salty pops of roe add texture. The takiawase, or salad course, brings relief from the richness of the preceding one, a delicate arrangement of fresh and slightly pickled vegetables on an edible ‘sand’ of crispy sushi rice, edamame beans, toasted seeds and almond brittle, accompanied by steamed broad beans with smoked salt for dipping.
Yakimono, or the grilled course, is glazed Wagyu tongue with pickled onion and carrot chutney, and wagyu fillet and rib-eye with sage flowers. The tongue is rich in flavour, while the other cuts offer a contrasting and more familiar texture. The chef has dubbed this course mottainai – a Japanese expression of regret around waste – and has used the usually under-utilised tongue alongside the more popular fillet and rib-eye as a way to offer respect for the animal. The gohan, or cooked rice course, contains octopus and squid ink okayu (rice), beautifully offset by pickled dune spinach, which adds tang.
Dessert is rooibos-and-naartjie mochi ice cream – a sweet, glutinous rice dough encapsulating the ice cream – burnt orange Basque-style cheesecake, and candied fennel. The cheesecake is smoky and smooth, and contrasts with the cold ice cream in the smooth mochi dough. House-made yuzu white chocolate ‘Kit Kats’ filled with guava curd, rhubarb jam and vanilla crisped rice add a playful touch, while petit-fours of deep-fried mochi koeksisters, naartjie pâte des fruits and a matcha lamington round things off.
Cocktails inspired by Japanese folklore are on offer in the stylish bar, and there’s a good wine list with options for MCC, red and white wines by the glass and bottle, local and some from France. The Momiji red and white house wines are made by David and Nadia of Swartland fame. There’s also a ‘vault’ wine section for both red and white, offering bottles from France, Spain, Germany and Austria, as well as special South African vintages. A range of spirits, including Japanese whisky and sake, is also available, plus beer and ciders.
Friendly and knowledgeable, but not stuffy. Explanations of each dish are clear and precise, with a card left on the table to remind you.
Blonde wood, white blinds and linen curtains create a calm, minimalist space that shuts out the noisy street below, while quirky touches add a little humour.
A special occasion or celebration.
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We had an incredible night at Tjing tjing Momiji. The ambience is calm and the setting is beautiful. Every single plate was a treat. The plating was intricate and beautiful, and each element an explosion of flavors and textures. The food was delicious and the whole evening a huge treat. I would definitely recommend this.
MOMIJI at Tjing Tjing
Over the next year Japan will receive more attention than usual as the nation hosts the Rugby World Cup this September and Tokyo stages the 2020 Summer Olympics. But you don’t need to leave Cape Town to experience fine Japanese dining. Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city on the planet and it’s clear that Momiji management and chefs have visited some of them — as the team has delivered an absolute masterstroke on Longmarket Street.
Minimal Japanese-Scandi decor greets guests at the reservations-only floor between Torii and the Rooftop Bar. The refined, yet unpretentious kaiseki menu created by head chef Christi Semczyszyn and pastry chef Adri Morel have put their own spin on traditional Japanese dishes relying on fresh seasonal produce. This is a special occasion venue — so do the full pairing menu as Tjing Tjing has one of the best wine lists (and best value) in the country. If not, the house wines are made exclusively by Swartland supremos David & Nadia Wines. Enough said.
My highlights from the 7-course menu include: Opening with ‘Mukozuke’ — a glorious trifecta of sashimi, followed by ‘Hassun’ — smoked mussel paté with seaweed dust, chives and dill, chive flower butter, tomato raisin, cheesy marmite milk bread bun with biltong, grilled butternut sourdough and senbei. ‘Suimono’ — clear fish broth, kamaboko and seaweed, and then the dish you think about the next morning when you wake up: ‘Yakimono’ — Yakiniku-glazed Wagyu tongue with apricot pickle, alongside Wagyu sirloin & fillet with crispy grilled sage. You don’t have to vote, a Wagyu tie will suffice.
Then there’s the dessert, oh the desserts. ‘Mizumono’ — Shanshoku ice cream dango: plum, vanilla and melon; yuzu posset with crispy yuba and dried strawberries; sake-lime and cherry jelly; raspberry she cream. Dango is a type of Mochi, a dessert made of sweet glutinous rice flour — which Morel has perfected in various guises. Next came ‘Kitto Katsu’ — resembling a Kit Kat (in form and wrapping) with white chocolate, matcha rice crispies, yum curd and strawberry gel.
Guests are even given a treat box upon departure, Momiji’s hybrid interpretation of a s’more, ‘S’mochi’ — a white chocolate cookie comprising grilled mocha and soy caramel; a rhubarb fruit roll and a fynbos honey madeleine.
Attention-to-detail was perfected by the Japanese, and it is replicated magnificently at Momiji.
You’ll want a digestif in the sunken lounge whisky bar post-dinner followed by a hasty trip home to watch Lost in Translation [again] with your treat box. Kanpai!
Its not often that the vegetarian dish has the meat eaters wanting to have a taste. Especially not at a fine dining restaurant. This happened when we ate at Momiji! I was sceptical going in, half expecting the vegetarians to be completely left out of the experience, but I really feel like I got an equal and comparable experience, as well as my money's worth. Well done Momiji! And I was told that they cater for all dietary restrictions. Great service from knowledgeable staff, and I am amazed at the tranquil ambience they have created. A hidden gem, just around the corner from the chaos of Long street, the pairing was an amazing culinary experience!
MOMIJI- Tjing Tjing
Last night, we braved the cold and rain, and opted for a luxury dining experience at Momiji.
My partner has spent a lengthy time in Japan so intially going into the experience he was naturally sceptical, but WOW were we blown away.
We opted for the current winter special , Kaiseki menu , 9 courses with drink pairing (with some additional surprises).
Each dish is perfectly designed and you can see the attention to detail. The ingredients are perfectly paired with delicious drinks such as local Hemel and aarde valley Pinot Noir, a local CBC Weiss , traditional sake, and a Portguese crisp wine
Some of the stand out dishes included Wagyu beef, pickled onion, fig preserve and crispy sage , the sashimi selection of oyster, tuna and trout (additional ponzu dressing ) as well as the fruit platter, a Bento box of sweet treats including a sake soaked pear, mochi apple ice cream and matcha Madeleines.
The setting is tranquil( music is soft, the layout is perfect in terms of proximity to other patrons , and they have a great scent used within the space) ,the dishes included local and seasonal selections, and the staff are really knowledgeable about each course. The special is exceptional value for money if you're wanting to try something different and taste something spectacular.
Only critique, is that the lights were extremely bright, and think that if there was softer lighting, it would contribute to a more comforting , relaxed feeling/setting.
Momiji is one for the books. ? Tjing Tjing
This is an absolute find in Cape Town! Intimate, gorgeous setting with no costs spared in the smallest of details, making this a superb Japanese experience. Beautiful dining ware and presentation. The food is creative yet simple and produce true to itself. The kaiseki menu has a certain flow / balance which leaves you feeling very satisfied and not overindulged as many multiple course dinners might. The pairing option is a absolute treat and well executed. We loved the sunken lounge for a drink before dinner, and the music is something special. This is a very memorable experience and a definite must do in Cape Town!