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 impeccably prepared sushi that’s uncompromising on quality and freshness, book a table at this serene and sophisticated gem on Kloofnek Road.
What is it Named Best Asian Restaurant in 2014, this discreet restaurant sits cheek by jowl with a whole lot of hipster haunts in Tamboerskloof (Hallelujah, The Sorrows, The Power and The Glory, to name a few).
Why we rate it This is pared-down Japanese cuisine at its finest: the chefs are dedicated to their craft, the ingredients are fastidiously 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
Read our full review here.
Contact 021 422 2001
Where to find it Kyoto Garden Sushi, 11 Lower Kloofnek Road, Cape Town
Reviewer Nikki Benatar
2. Willoughby & Co
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 professional 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! An 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).
Contact 021 418 6115, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Willoughby & Co, Shop 6132, V&A Waterfront
Reviewer Jackie Lange
3. Obi Restaurant
If you’re looking for the one and only Papa San (formerly Takumi, Minato and Tokyo), come on in.
What is it A no-frills eatery on Lower Long Street co-owned by chef Hatsushiro Muraoka (Papa San) and his protégé Ben Bettendorf, where the sushi (not the decor), rightfully, steals the show.
Why we rate it The chefs’ dedication to their craft (they travelled to Japan for two weeks to brainstorm the menu) is evident in Obi’s top-class food offerings. We also love the fuss-free food philosophy.
What you should order If you’re there for lunchtime between 12pm – 2pm, go for the Bento Box (salmon nigiri, tuna nigiri, salmon rose, four prawn California rolls, and four pieces of vegetable tempura, served with tentsuyu dipping sauce and miso soup). Or try Chirashizushi, one of Obi’s specialities: sushi rice, garnished with sashimi selections and vegetables.
Contact 021 418 4040, email@example.com
Where to find it Obi Restaurant, 14 Long Street, Cape Town
Reviewer Tamlyn Ryan
4. 1890 House Sushi and Grill
If you’re looking for a small neighbourhood restaurant with good-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 whichever plates take your fancy.
What to order The salmon roses, prawn tempura roll and the sashimi are some of the best we’ve tasted. The platters are well-priced too – and we love that they even have a 14-piece vegetarian platter.
Contact 021 447 1450
Where to find it 1890 House Sushi and Grill, 40 Trill Road, Observatory
Reviewer Jackie Lange
5. 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 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 For the best value go for one of the sharing platters.
Contact 021 431 5111
Where to find it Nobu Lounge, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront
Reviewer Nikki Benatar
6. Harbour House V&A Waterfront
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 Sias Tanambi’s delicious menu will appeal to sticklers and nonpurists alike. Though some of the sushi is on the pricey side, 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 with ginger, spring onion, sesame seeds on a bed of cucumber-and-carrot “spaghetti” is utterly delectable, as is the seared tuna with mango and micro herbs. If you like a bit of a crunch, the rainbow prawn-tempura roll will hit the spot. 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, Lucky Fish & Chips, Grand Café & Beach and Live Bait. The group actively supports SASSI (the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative). In 2015 head chef Sias Tanambi was named a SASSI Trailblazer for his commitment to seafood sustainability.
If the Cape winter permits grab a seat on the outside deck upstairs, which has its own sushi counter (and restrooms), and kick-ass views of the harbour and Table Mountain. Order a glass of bubbly and celebrate the season!
Contact 021 418 4748, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Harbour House, Quay Four, Ground Floor, V&A Waterfront
Reviewer Nikki Benatar
7. Andy’s Sushi Bar
If you’re looking for delicious and 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.
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! And we love that they also do deliveries!
Contact 076 578 6322
Where to find it Andy’s Sushi Bar, 315 Main Road, Sea Point
8. 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.
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 (with chilli, spring onions, chopped ginger and pickled garlic in a ponzu sauce) and any of the sashimi and temaki (hand rolls). And if you like a bite, go for the spicy edamame 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.
Contact 021 421 6002/3
Where to find it Balducci Asian Noodle & Sushi Bar, Shop 6162, V&A Waterfront
Reviewer Nikki Benatar
9. 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 in a treed courtyard, just off Stellenbosch’s happening Church Street, that does heavenly Japanese sushi and tapas. No wonder SA’s top chef Gregory Czarnecki and Majeka House’s Lucas Carstens both rate it as a must-visit gem! The intimate lantern-lit inside section seats 18 people, but you really want to sit in the outside section (yes, even in winter), under the oaks, rubbing shoulders with diners from the other eateries on the square.
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. The dumplings and tempura are wickedly moreish – you must try the calamari-tentacles tempura.
Inside info In the pipeline is a new section next door that will specialise in ramen, dumplings and sake.
Contact 021 887 5699, email@example.com
Where to find it Genki Sushi Bar & Tapas, Corner of Bird and Church Street, Stellenbosch
Reviewer Nikki Benatar
10. 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 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 and sushi.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Live Bait, 70 Beach Road, Muizenberg
Reviewer Nikki Benatar
11. Nuri Sushi Factory
If you’re looking for 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. Here you’ll find pimped-up versions of Japanese favourites, where tangy sauces, purées and deep-fried toppings almost overshadow the sushi! 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, Sea Point and CBD and you can even order via Whatsapp!
What to order Any of the Crunches (tempura-fried California rolls topped with sweet-chilli mayo), which include 10 pieces.
Inside info Nuri Sushi has opened a Sea Point branch, next to Schecter’s Raw.
Contact 021 461 8719
Where to find it Nuri Sushi Factory, 8 Parliament Street, CBD
If you’re looking for a cool and quirky street bar by the sea, you’ve found it.
What is it With its prime location on the Mouille Point mile, this fun restaurant tastefully blends Asian pop culture with street food, providing a delicious assortment of snacks (such as wonton crackers) and mains (such as miso-cured grilled salmon, with shiitake and mirin broth).
Why we rate it Its sea-facing location, with uninterrupted views of the promenade and the ocean, is a drawcard. Once you’re in, you’ll be impressed by the eclectic menu, offering classics and modern twists.
What you should order Non-purists should try the 10-piece Surf ’n Turf – 10 tempura-prawn rolls topped with bacon. And, the octopus carpaccio (octopus cooked marinated in ponzu).
Contact 021 202 2720, email@example.com
Where to find it Manga, Corner of Rothesay and Beach Road, Mouille Point, Cape Town
Reviewer Tamlyn Ryan
If you’re looking for stylish decor and a 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 Lindt Crème Brûlée (a Lindt chocolate and wasabi base topped with crème brûlée).
Contact 021 671 4271
Where to find it Salushi, Intaba Building, 25 Protea Road, Claremont
Reviewer Jackie Lange
14. Sushi Box
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. So popular was this original branch that the Zimbabwe-born owners have since opened shop at Lifestyles on Kloof on Kloof Street, Cape Quarter, The Silo District at the V&A, and at the Willowbridge Shopping Centre, allowing sushi fiends in other parts of the Mother City to get a delicious slice of the Sushi Box action.
Why we rate it The sushi is fresh and the signature dishes are a must! The friendly, mostly Zimbabwean staff make waiting for your grub a breeze.
What you should order The Fusion Box: five Loaded Rainbow Rolls; five Crunchy Salmon Rolls; and two Salmon Roses. We’re also curious to try the Poke Bowls – an exciting addition to the Winter Menu.
Good to know Sushi Box is gearing up to open a new store in at Constantia Uitsig, later this year. Subscribe to our newsletter, and we’ll keep you posted.
Contact 086 107 8744, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Sushi Box, 8 Cardiff Castle Centre, Kildare Road, Newlands
15. Izakhaya Matsuri
If you’re looking for authentic sushi and Japanese tapas in a streetside setting, head here!
What is it Owned by celebrated chef Arata Koga (formerly Tank and Genki), this cool spot is all about fine Japanese cuisine, good wine and real-deal sake and tea. The indoor-outdoor scene reminds us of a streetside spot in Tokyo.
Why we rate it Arata’s “food is art” philosophy is evident in his extensive menu and beautifully plated dishes. We love that it’s still something of a hidden (sushi) gem in the city!
What you should order The sashimi (five pieces) and nigiri (two pieces) is good value and includes eel, mackerel and octopus, as well as your usual salmon, tuna and linefish. The “three kinds ice cream” (green tea ice, deep fried and wasabi) is worth a whirl.
Contact 021 421 4520, email@example.com
Where to find it Izakhaya Matsuri, 6, The Rockwell, 32 Prestwich Street, Green Point, Cape Town
Reviewer Tamlyn Ryan
16. Saigon Cape Town
If you’re looking for top-drawer Asian cuisine (Vietnamese, Indonesian, Japanese, Thai, and more), look no further.
What is it When it opened in 1997, Saigon set the gold standard with Vietnamese Thipert Van My at the assured helm. Over the intervening years (a sushi bar and terrace was added in 2008), the restaurant has gained a vast and devoted following, and standards have remained rock-solid. It’s almost always full (booking essential, especially in season) and I have never had so much as a morsel that was not delectable: aromatic, evocative, and with a generous and respectful treatment of fresh and vibrant ingredients.
Why we rate it The management and wait-staff welcome you as if to their own homes and the room, which is gorgeous, has one of those aching panoramic views of Table Mountain that during a summer sunset is epiphanic.
What you should order The 34-piece Chef’s Choice Platter for Two, which includes salmon stackers (4), prawn tempura rolls (8), 4×4 (8), assorted sashimi (6), assorted nigiri (4) and salmon roses (4) – or the spicy salmon tartare.
Contact 021 424 7670
Where to find it Saigon, Corner Camp and Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town,
Reviewer Gordon Radowsky
17. 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). Like many of the city’s port-based restaurants, PJ will soon be relocating to a new spot in the city, but we can assure you that this long-standing institution will continue to satisfy its patrons. (We will keep you posted as soon as we have more information on the new location.)
Why we rate it The sushi (and all the seafood) is fresh and delicious.
What to order sashimi: tuna, salmon and linefish.
Contact 021 447 3992, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Panama Jacks, Quay 500, Table Bay Harbour, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
If you’re looking for excellent sushi (and other East Asian flavours, from Thai and Chinese to Japanese and Korean) in an elegant Chinese-tearoom setting, there is no other.
What is it Situated in the city centre, a stone’s throw from its Indian sister, Bukhara, this ever-popular eatery will bowl you over with its excellent cuisine (and extensive menu). The open kitchen allows you to watch the skilled chefs in action, while you wait for your tantalising tidbits to arrive.
Why we rate it The elegant, dimly lit interiors enhance the quality food offering, making it an assured special-occasion spot.
What you should order The Halibut Sashimi (with chili and peanuts) or the Green Mamba Roll (with tuna, avo and salsa) for a little extra oomph.
Contact 021 424 7000
Where to find it Haiku, 58 Burg Street, Cape Town
19. Village Sushi
If you’re looking for delicious sushi in the heart of the Noordhoek food hub, you’ve found what you’re looking for.
What is it Housed in De Noordhoek Hotel in the ever-popular Noordhoek Farm Village, this Deep South restaurant is lovingly brought to you by North Beijing husband-and-wife team, Andy and Lily Liu. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Franck Dangereux’s feted Foodbarn, and Café Roux, this cosy spot specialises in fresh sushi (and an array of other Asian dishes).
Why we rate it The sushi is fresh, the atmosphere warm and welcoming, plus takeaway orders are catered for, too (provided you call and place your order).
What you should order A Design Your Own Platter Combo, which comes in 8, 12, 20 and 60 pieces.
Contact 021 789 2760, email@example.com
Where to find it De Noordhoek Hotel, Noordhoek Farm Village, Village Lane, Noordhoek, Cape Town
Reviewer Tamlyn Ryan
If you’re looking for a sushi stopover in Stellenbosch…
What is it Located in the Eikestad Mall in Stellies, Watami is a small, scantily decorated spot where fresh, delicious sushi and Asian cuisine are the order of the day.
Why we rate it The daily sushi buffet is the main attraction, but there are other mouthwatering and affordable sushi platters. Keep an eye out for their ever-changing special deals.
What you should order The very good-value Watami Platter: four salmon roses, four salmon California rolls, four salmon maki, four rainbow rolls and four avo maki.
Contact 021 886 5828
Where to find it Watami, 7 Beyers Street, Eikestad Mall, Stellenbosch
Reviewer Tamlyn Ryan
21. The Codfather
If you’re looking for fresh sushi that you can pluck off a conveyor belt, with pretty 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 locals and tourists, providing a buzzy vibe day and night.
Why we rate it You’ll be spoilt for choice with its huge selection of 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. On the downside… the last time we ate there, the floors and toilets looked a bit grubby and could have done with a scrub.
What to order Let the conveyor belt tempt you…
Contact 021 438 0782/3, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it The Codfather Camps Bay, 37 The Drive, Camps Bay
WE ALSO RATE
- Vivante in Cavendish Square, for delicious sushi in a chic restaurant space
- Active Sushi, Hudson Street, for a fun, vibey sushi experience in town
- Ben Wei, Gardens, for a good mix of Asian fare in Wembley Square
- Catch 22 Beachside Grille & Bar, Table View, for seaside sushi in the Northern Suburbs
- Wonderful Sushi, for, yes, you guessed it, wonderful sushi in this born-again Sea Point spot.
- The Sushi Counter at Woolworths Waterstone Village, for delicious, on-the-run sushi
- Three Wise Monkeys in Sea Point, for an assortment of top Japanese dishes
- Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point, for some of the best ocean views in the Cape Peninsula
- Oishi, for a quick-and-easy sushi fix – deliveries only sushi for City Bowl and Claremont and surrounds.
- Osaka, Sea Point, for good, affordable sushi at a hole-in-the-wall city spot
- Suki Thai, for authentic Thai tapas and sushi in Stellies
- Kitima in Hout Bay, for the popular Sunday buffet of unlimited dim sum, sushi and noodles
- Beluga, Green Point, for the courtyard vibe on a sunny winter’s day
- Just Sushi in Simon’s Town, for a False Bay sushi fix