A good restaurant is like reading a great book – each course should be a page turner, a prelude to the next. You should be hungry to find out more. It starts with a powerful setting, climaxes at a twist you didn’t see coming, and ends in way you never imagined. And when you put it down, the experience should linger with you. Kyoto Garden Sushi could very well be this un-put-downable novel.
In the heart of the city, on lower Kloofnek Road, sits this Japanese eatery who is no stranger to Cape Town palates. Soaked in dim lighting, the restaurant is cosy and simply decorated. The tasting menu is the one to try, but I’ve heard rave reviews about everything on the menu.
The tasting menu is six courses, six chapters of a unique Japanese taste tale, told by the hands of Chef Koshi Koyama. Once upon a time…
In the “Shallow Seas” you’re served a trio of Urchin, Eel and Scallops. If you’re connoisseur of fine Japanese cuisine, you know this is not something you would easily find on a menu in Cape Town. Sea urchin, otherwise known as uni, is a texture unknown to most. It is a delicacy that looks like a dark custard, has a characteristically salty ocean flavour and is creamy at the same time. The Uni, Eel and Scallops are served in their truest form – my mind totally blown.
The next course “Deep Ika” is squid and ink, no need to perfect an already perfectly delicious dish served with a slight sear, mostly au-de-natural.
“The Rising Sun” appeared during our next course, an ode to nature, it was tempura battered veggies and oysters. I’ve never had a tempura oyster before, the flavour profile changed with the heat but it was juicy and delicious all the same.
The twist in the plot came in the form of “Into The Cold” – it was an cold dish of noodles, ice and lime. Ice? Really?! Yes, it was icy, but it was also comforting in a strange way. The dish was created to soothe the body and mind after a hot day in Japan. The cold broth felt like it was healing you from the inside out. The flavour is delicate, with a hint of sour from the lime, the cold lush noodles, and a dash of salty – it was a well composed dish, although I am not completely sure why – it just was. I can’t find something else to compare it to, which makes it hard to describe. The perfect plot twist me thinks.
The “Ocean Blue” course is, without a doubt, the part of this novel where unrequited love finally caves in. Lobster and brown butter sauce, a match made in food heaven. There’s no skimping on the lobster either, the claws were the size of my palms. The brown butter sauce could very well be a cocktail too, oh so drinkable.
The conclusion, “Kori Cream” is a trio of Matcha, Miso and Sesame Seed Ice Cream. I didn’t care for the matcha, I am not a green tea fan, but hold me down and feed me spoonfuls of sesame seed ice-cream and I might divulge my deepest darkest secrets. Again, an indescribable taste – strong on the sesame profile, yet somehow the addition of sugar glorifies the flavour. The miso was fantastic too, salty against the backdrop of sweet cream, utter loveliness.
The wine pairings are fantastic, they have a wide selection to choose from. And, what would a Japanese meal be without a warm tot of sake? Beware of the sake, it drives a powerful kick.
My next adventure at Kyoto Garden Sushi is in the works, I love a good book and a great food story even more. If I could classify their genre it would be a foreign love story, and everyone would live happily ever after.
NB: The tasting menu costs R700 per person, and is worth every cent.
Address: 11 Lower Kloofnek Road, Cape Town
Contact: +27 21 422 2001