There was a time in our little old country when the mention of sushi elicited blank stares (unless, of course, you were one of the privileged few who’d eaten it on your travels to New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo or Hong Kong). Two decades later and sushi is not only readily available at the thousands of Japanese and seafood restaurants around the country, it’s become the food of choice for health-conscious locals wanting to get their daily dose of protein and omega-3 oils without the kilojoules. Like many other on-trend cuisines, sushi originated on the streets – Tokyo, 1824, to be exact. It’s now considered one of the most expensive cuisines in the world. This is our list of the best sushi restaurants in Cape Town:
1. Kyoto Garden Sushi
If you’re looking for impeccable ingredients and a symphony of taste sensations, book a table at this easy-to-miss gem on Kloofnek Road.
What is it Named Best Asian Restaurant at the Eat Out Awards in 2014, this discreet restaurant sits cheek by jowl with a whole lot of hipster haunts in Tamboerskloof.
Why we rate it This is pared-down Japanese cuisine: the chefs are dedicated to their craft, the ingredients are carefully sourced, and the taste is nothing short of exquisite.
What you should order The Chef’s Creation: a mixed platter of tuna, salmon, prawn and linefish rolls, nigiri and sashimi
Cost R155 (small); R310 (medium); R490 (large)
Contact 021 422 2001
Where to find it Kyoto Garden Sushi 11 Lower Kloofnek Road, Cape Town
2. 1890 House Sushi and Grill
If you’re looking for a small neighborhood restaurant with excellent quality sushi at reasonable prices, this one fits the bill – and then some.
What is it A gem of a restaurant in an Observatory side street where busy chefs turn out beautifully presented sushi at very reasonable prices. It’s a favourite among locals who are greeted by name by the friendly waitresses, sushi chefs and owner. You can order Thai and Chinese dishes, but with sushi this good, why bother? A word of caution: phone ahead to book or get there early as it gets very busy from 6.30pm.
Why we rate it The instant gratification of it all – that’s if you sit at the rotating carousel and pluck off whatever takes your fancy.
What to order Plates are priced by colour and cost from R15 to R35. The salmon roses, prawn tempura roll and the sashimi (all R35) are some of the best we’ve tasted. If you’d prefer to sit at a table, the platters are well-priced too – R63 for a 14-piece vegetarian platter; R190 for a 26-piece platter of sashimi (12), nigiri (6) and California rolls (8).
Where to find it 1890 House Sushi and Grill
3. Balducci Asian Noodle & Sushi Bar
If you’re looking for a mouthwatering array of Japanese-inspired dishes and top-notch sushi in chic, upscale surrounds, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better at the V&A Waterfront.
What is it Part of the Slick chain of restaurants (Belthazar, Gibson’s and Balducci), this glasshouse opposite Balducci’s entrance is the sort of place you’d expect to find in Shanghai or Kyoto – a small, sparsely decorated space that packs a big punch when it comes to food!
Why we rate it South Africans love American-style sushi (ain’t nothing wrong with that), but Royal Sushi is more about authentic, pared-down Japanese flavours. Also, you feel like you’re removed from the chaos of a shopping mall, perched in this relaxed conservatory. The efficient, friendly service always makes eating here a pleasure.
Above and beyond It’s those little extras…as you’re seated, your waitron brings a heated towel to wipe your hands, and offers a complimentary cup of green tea.
What to order The tuna tataki (R125 with chilli, spring onions, chopped ginger and pickled garlic in a ponzu sauce, any of the sashimi and temaki (hand rolls). And if you like a bite, go for the spicy edamame (R65) for starters.
Good to know We sat next to a Taiwanese couple, living in South Africa, who dine here once a week. They always order the Crudo Raw platter, proclaiming it to be the best-quality fish in Cape Town.
Where to find it Balducci Asian Noodle & Sushi Bar
TIG reviewer Nikki Benatar
4. Harbour House V&A Waterfront
Image credit: Claire Gunn Photography
If you’re looking for delicious American-style sushi with killer views of the ocean, make Harbour House V&A your destination.
What is it This chic and modern nautical-themed restaurant is situated on the jetty outside the mall, so you have the luxury of being next to the water and away from the crowds (but close enough to pop into the stores for some browsing before or after your meal, should the need arise).
Why we rate it Head sushi chef Jason Chen has introduced a delicious new menu that’ll appeal to sticklers and nonpurists eaters alike. Though some of the sushi is on the pricey side (R90 for 8 salmon California rolls), you are guaranteed of excellent-quality ingredients and mouth-popping flavours. And the presentation is so pretty!
What to order Where do we begin? The new-style salmon sashimi (R135) with ginger, spring onion, sesame seeds on a bed of cucumber-and-carrot “spaghetti” is utterly delectable, as is the seared tuna (R135) with mango and micro herbs. If you like a bit of a crunch, the rainbow prawn-tempura roll will hit the spot. At R108, it’s fabulous value, as the portion is big, and crammed with tuna, salmon, prawn and – purists look away now – cream cheese.
You might not know Harbour House is part of the HH Group, which includes Tiger’s Milk, Siroco, Easy Tiger, La Parada and Live Bait. We sat next to HH’s brand manager Karen Skinner and marketing manager Lisa Carey at the new-menu launch in September, who were reeling at the prospect of eight new restaurant openings before October! We’re most excited about La Parada and Harbour House at Constantia Nek.
This summer you’ll find us sipping bubbly and savouring sushi on the brand-new upper deck, complete with it’s own sushi counter (and restrooms), and kick-ass views of the harbour and Table Mountain.
Where to find it Quay Four, Ground Floor, V&A Waterfront
TIG reviewer Nikki Benatar
5. Willoughby & Co
Image Credit: United Interiors
If you’re looking for delicious sushi, make this your first stop!
What is it Although it’s in a mall, the restaurant and deli have a buzzy vibe, and a loyal following. The extensive menu (which can be confusing if you’re not a regular) offers a variety of superbly compiled Japanese and traditional seafood dishes prepared by experienced chefs under the watchful eye of owner Jens Tibshraeny and his excellent team.
Why we rate it As bookings are not accepted, service is quick and efficient – it has to be to accommodate the ever-present queue of diners waiting for a table! Fairview’s adjoining wine boutique offers wine tastings as you wait. If dining in a mall is not your thing, perch at one of the inside counters, or in front of sushi chef Sam’s station and watch his team churning out platters of stunning sushi.
What you should order Our pick is the 4×4 (four pieces of Creamy Rock-Shrimp maki rolls and four pieces of Rainbow Reloaded rolls topped with deep-fried prawns tossed in a spicy chili-bean mayo). Other favourites include the spicy tuna California rolls (cut into 10, rather than the standard eight, which are too big to fit in your mouth), the Japanese salmon and tuna salad and the ebi tempura (three tempura prawns with a dipping sauce).
Cost 4×4 (8), R169
Spicy tuna rolls (8), R89
Japanese salmon and tuna salad, R149
Ebi tempura, R99
Where to find it Willoughby & Co
TIG reviewer Jackie Lange
6. Live Bait (Muizenberg)
If you’re looking for smack-of-the-sea sushi with killer views, book a table now!
What is it A stylishly appointed but laidback eatery on Muizenberg’s main drag that offers knockout views of the beach, the surf and the iconic primary-coloured houses. A relative newcomer to the Harbour House Group of Restaurants (which includes La Parada, Harbour House, Tiger’s Milk, Charango and Lucky Fish & Chips), this sea-scraping spot specialises in seafood, sushi and open-fire grilled meat and fish.
Why we rate it The views alone will make you want to linger longer; the food is fresh, delicious and generously portioned; and the vibe is cool, casual and comfortable (though it does get loud and boisterous when full).
What to order We came for the sushi, and were not disappointed. It’s fresh and well presented. A word of caution, I ordered the sushi salad, thinking there’d be a lettuce leaf or two, but it’s pure sashimi, diced and marinated. Delicious, just not what I expected. We were sitting near the fire, where the chefs were grilling steaks, sardines, skewered beef and chicken, and whole fish. They all looked mighty tasty!
Contact 021 788 2705, email@example.com
Where to find it Live Bait, 70 Beach Road, Muizenberg, 7950
TIG reviewer Nikki Benatar
If you’re looking for a leisurely sushi lunch or early dinner in a swanky setting without breaking the bank, this is a good bet.
What is it Beluga’s alfresco eating area opens onto a piazza in The Foundry, where lots of ad agencies and cool design stores have offices. As such, people-watching is de rigueur.
Why we rate it The moreish sushi, dim sum and cocktails are half-price from noon to 7pm daily (on Sunday the special runs all day at Beluga).
What to order Salmon roses, Firecracker Rolls (tempura tuna, avo, mayo and sesame seeds) or share a platter or two washed down with a Peach Bellini, margarita or a Kir Royale.
Cost Salmon roses (4), R35 between noon and 7pm
Firecracker rolls (8), R49 between noon and 7pm
Peach Bellini, R29 between noon and 7pm
Margarita R29 between noon and 7pm
Kir Royale Cassis R28 between noon and 7pm
Learn more about Beluga’s half-price sushi special.
Where to find it Beluga
8. Andy’s Sushi Bar
If you’re looking for good-quality affordable sushi.
What is it A cosy and comfortable Asian-inspired eatery on Sea Point Main Road owned by former Willoughby & Co chef, Andy Wang – perfect for a quick lunch during a busy day. You are welcome to bring your own liquor (no corkage fee) as Andy’s Sushi Bar doesn’t have a licence yet.
Why we rate it For Andy’s inventive dishes, prepared the traditional Japanese way. The Rainbow Reloaded (rainbow rolls dressed with sweet soya sauce, seven-spice, sesame oil and spring onion) and the Salmon Fire (salmon roses filled with chopped, spicy salmon and dressed with chili mayo and sweet soya sauce) are to dine for!
Cost Rainbow Reloaded (4), R65
Salmon Fire (2), R30
Contact 076 578 6322
Location 315 Main Road, Sea Point
Where to find it Andy’s Sushi Bar
9. Panama Jacks
If you’re looking for smack-of-the-sea sushi in a fisherman’s setting, don’t look any further.
What is it This restaurant in the docks has been around for over two decades and is a favourite among visitors, locals who prize the freshest fish and seafood, and the yachting crew (it’s right next to the yacht club).
Why we rate it The sushi (and all the seafood) is ridiculously fresh and delicious.
What to order sashimi: tuna, salmon and linefish.
Cost R55 (five pieces of salmon or tuna); R50 (five pieces of linefish)
Contact 021 447 3992, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Quay 500, Table Bay Harbour, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
10. Just Sushi
If you’re looking for just sushi in an unpretentious setting, this is the place!
What is it A 50-seater restaurant just off the main square in Simon’s Town with a sea view. Despite the name, it serves dim sum too, but nothing is fried or cooked here.
Why we rate it The setting is rather lovely and the sashimi is divine (albeit pricey).
What you should order salmon sashimi
Cost R77 (4 pieces)
Contact 021 786 4340, email@example.com
Where to find it Shop 6, St Georges Street, Simon’s Town, Cape Town
11. Nuri Sushi Factory
If you’re looking for very affordable, self-service sushi in a downtown-canteen vibe, what are you waiting for?
What is it There’s nothing authentic about Nuri’s delicious sushi, nor is it a white-glove service kind of place. That said, Nuri has reinvented classic Japanese by pimping up traditional dishes, using tangy sauces, purées and deep-fried toppings. Place your order at the counter, pay, and then take a seat. The restaurant pumps during peak times (lunch and dinner), and bookings aren’t permitted, so get there early to secure a table.
Why we rate it Nuri delivers to the southern suburbs from Monday to Saturday between noon and 9pm, charging between R15 and R30 for delivery, depending on your location.
What to order Any of the Crunches (tempura-fried California rolls topped with sweet-chilli mayo), ranging from R44 to R50 for 10 pieces. Banters will love the rice-free Rothschild’s Special (20-piece carb-free sashimi rolls served with a peanut dressing and a special Nuri-yaki) for R160.
Where to find it Nuri Sushi Factory
12. The Codfather
If you’re looking for fresh, tasty, SASSI-approved sushi that you can pluck off a conveyor belt, with gorgeous views of the Ocean, look no further.
What is it Codfather has been doing things the unconventional way since their inception in 1998. With no menus (you read right), you can be sure that what’s on offer was still swimming a few hours earlier. The sushi conveyor belt is always rammed with friendly locals and tourists, providing a buzzy vibe day and night.
Why we rate it Its huge selection of SASSI-approved fish and seafood that includes yellowfin tuna, Norwegian salmon, prawns, smoked salmon, salmon roe, eel, as well as Cape salmon, butterfish and yellowtail – depending on availability. Vegetarian sushi is also on offer.
What to order Like most conveyor-belt sushi, plates are priced according to colour.
Tuna nigiri (2), R54
Salmon California rolls (4), R50
Tempura prawns (2), R58
Where to find it The Codfather Camps Bay
13. Genki Sushi Bar & Tapas
If you’re looking for outstanding, sustainably sourced sushi, without the hefty price tag and pretentious crowds, this hidden gem is a good bet.
What is it A cosy eatery that does heavenly Japanese sushi and tapas in a treed courtyard, just off Stellenbosch’s happening Church Street. The wood-panelled, lantern-lit inside section seats 18 people, but you really want to sit in the outside section, under the oaks, rubbing shoulders with diners from the other eateries on the square.
We (used to) rate chef Orato’s (ex-Tank) calm disposition and divine concoctions. He recently left but we’re told the new chef is doing a good job.
What to order We recommend you order a whole bunch of things to share. Our favourites include the Two Ocean’s Roll (four salmon and four tuna California rolls), Genki Crunch Roll (an inside-out tempura roll of salmon, tuna, linefish, cream cheese and avo with a spicy ponzu sauce), Yakitori Grilled Skewers, and the seared tuna and avo salad.
Cost Two Ocean’s Roll (8), R60
Genki Crunch Roll (6), R72
Yakitori Grilled Skewers (2), R38 (chicken); R40 (prawn)
seared tuna and avo salad, R68
Where to find it Genki Sushi Bar & Tapas
14. The sushi counter at Woolworths Waterstone Village
If you’re looking for Delicious, on-the-run sushi.
What is it Woolworths’ biggest food market to date, this 2 500m² is not just a supermarket. There’s a butcher, fishmonger, artisanal coffee counter and an innovation station, where you can taste a wide range of products – from cheese and biltong to olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We’re addicted to the sushi from the dinky sushi bar that’s headed by Japanese maestro, Michael San.
Why we rate it The sushi is smack-of-the-sea fresh, and the spices and sauces sprinkled and drizzled on top are utterly moreish!
What to order The Rainbow Reloaded rolls are not cheap, but they are sensational: salmon and avo inside, salmon and tuna wrapped around the outside, a drizzle of teriyaki sauce, a dollop of caviar and mayonnaise, and a sprinkling of Japanese seven-spice and finely chopped spring onions (8), R199.
Where to find it Woolworths, Waterstone Village
15. Nobu Lounge
If you’re looking for the Rolls-Royce of sushi (price- and quality-wise), you’ve come to the right place.
What is it Part of an international chain of 30 restaurants across the globe, the Cape Town restaurant, located at One&Only Cape Town, is swish, swanky and sophisticated – perfect for a special-occasion meal.
Why we rate it The plush yet pared-down decor, excellent service and the delectable sharing platters make dining here a pleasure.
What to order Nobu is not cheap, so for the best value go for one of the sharing platters.
Cost Nobu Lite (beef skewers, chicken skewers, pork belly, new-style beef), R575
Pescetarian (salmon and tuna tacos, hot miso chips, tuna tataki with ponzu, tuna tempura rolls, salmon skewers), R545
Vegetarian Lite (nasu miso, broccoli chili salsa, shojin tempura, sautéed spicy vegetables, vegetable cut rolls), R295
Where to find it Nobu Lounge
If you’re looking for stylish decor and a chic yet homely vibe.
What is it Set in Claremont’s business hub, Salushi attracts office workers, ladies who lunch and students who crave delicious sushi, Asian-style light meals, interesting salads, seafood, poultry and meat. It’s perfect for a lazy lunch, after-work cocktails (try the piña colada!) or a pre-movie dinner.
Why we rate it The Sushi is freshly prepared (which means it might take a little longer to get your food, but the wait is worth it). Our favourites are the Bon Bon’s Gift (salmon fashion sandwiches topped with mayo and caviar) and Takky Tempura (seared salmon California rolls, topped with tempura prawns, spring onion and drizzled with citrus mayo). For dessert, you have to try the Wasabi Truffle (a Lindt chocolate and wasabi base topped with crème brûlée ).
Cost Bon Bon’s Gift (9), R50 between noon and 5pm; R80, from 5pm
Takky Tempura (4), R52 between noon and 5pm; R58, from 5pm
Wasabi Truffle, R38
Lean more about Salushi’s Value Menu.
Where to find it Salushi
17. Sushi box, Newlands
If you’re looking for delicious concoctions of sushi made with spices, drizzly bits and Japanese mayo, you’ve come to the right place.
What is it A sushi outlet tucked in the corner of the Cardiff Castle Building on bustling Kildare Road.
Why we rate it The sushi is fresh and the special dishes are a must! The friendly, mostly Zimbabwean staff make waiting for your grub a breeze.
What you should order Tiger Rolls (tempura prawn and avo California wrapped in steamed prawns, drizzled with teriyaki and sesame seeds)
Cost R85 (10 pieces)
Good to know Sushi Box has a pop-up shop at Beau Constantia wine estate – there’s nothing like nibbling on fresh nigiri while enjoying a glass of vino and stunning views.
Contact 021 674 0820, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 8 Cardiff Castle Centre, Kildare Road, Newlands
Insider tip if you’re eating in, the Spar shops in Rosmead Avenue and at the end of Sea Point make delicious, fresh sushi to go.
What do think of our list? If we’ve left out one of your favourite sushi spots, please let us know in the comments below.