Yet again, I find myself saying “This is not a review of Kubo’s Little Japan on Riebeek St in town“.
It is however a review of the slightly oddly named Sushi Master on Riebeek St in town, which is what Kubo’s has become. A fine Korean gentleman by the name of Jung has taken over Kubo’s old spot, including (it seems) the menu. This is good since I was aiming for Japanese, not Korean, food.
[Pssst! Looking for the short version? It’s here: “cheap, good, Japanese food, despite the change of hands”]
Boom, Shake, Shake, Shake The Room
The evening did not get off to an auspicious start. The Boom Boom Shakalak bar above was quiet, but not quiet. It was fairly empty (quiet), but they seemed to be testing the maximum volume of their speakers (not quiet). Well, I whine, but it wasn’t exactly deafening. It did make for an interesting “mix” of their boomboom and Kubo / Sushi Master’s selection (of Richard Clayderman, The Magical Sound of the Pan Pipes, and assorted authentic eastern tunes). I felt The Fear that I’d picked a clanger for Cracker. Luckily this was not to be the case.
The decor was classic. Classic in the sense of horrible kitsch that sort of works, a la Minato’s.
We popped open one of our two bottles of vino (R15 corkage, btw. R15! Stick that in your pretentious pipe and smoke it, Aubergine! (Yes, still bitter about that.)) and perused the menu. Cheap! Interesting! Japanese!
And So It Begins…
We shared two plates of mixed tempura (prawns, calamari, veggies) for starters. Tasty! This was definitely Tempura Done Right and made me very happy. Bubbly, light, crispy batter, tasty sauce accompaniment. I could probably have handled another few pieces, but they weren’t stingy portions.
The Mains Event
For mains, we had a veritable 食べ放題 of goodies: beef tataki1 with ponzu sauce; beef teppanyaki2; Chicken Kara-age3; chicken and veggies noodles fry-up; roast salmon belly; chawan mushi4. All the nosh was good, but stars for me were the beef tataki (pink!) and the salmon (pink!). Nom (pink!)!
The Dessert Of The Real
Then, unusually for Cracker, we had dessert. Bar one tempura and ice cream. So crazy it works.
Tasty tiny treat to round off the meal. Eck had his own, the J, J, S threesome shared two.
Conclusions, Thoughts, Comments
The total was R600, including a generous tip, which seems very reasonable given that we ate loads.
Certainly cheaper than lots of previous Crackers.
Alas, I fear that the Master of Sushi may not last. Part of it is that it’s cheap. And small. Both of these I see as plus points as a patron, but it must make it more difficult to make money. A more pertinent part is that we were the only people present. From 7 to 10pm. On a Saturday night. Oh, as they say, dear. I suspect that Kubo’s attracted a very local following that will desert the new look / theme / vibe / owner, given how fickle Cape Town eaters are.
Patented Jo Scores on the Doors
Atmosphere: 3 / 10 (kitschy decor works, but booming music is distracting. We enjoyed our meal despite it (had rather a jolly time, actually), but it would have much better without.)
Staff: 7 / 10 (Nice waitress lady, smiley sushi chef (even though we had none of his wares), very friendly and earnest owner (language barrier made interactions more entertaining / interesting))
Service: 7 / 10 (Not particularly attentive, but easily signal-able given small space, and food came well-paced, as it was ready, piping hot (esp. important for tempura))
Food: 8 / 10 (Me liked. Interesting, new Japanese food. A bit different to other places which generally serve sushi as their Japanese stuff, or some kind of bastard-love-child-fusion thing which, while tasty, is not really Japanese Food.)
Value for money: 9 / 10 (Our final bill was low for Cracker, perhaps still a little high in general, but we had lots of nosh for our cash)
Fellow Crack-ees: what was the other category we wanted to add?
1 – basically very rare, sliced beef. Watching this being cooked was awesome. Big chunk of meat, held in tongs, waved at flame of gas hob. Hypnotic.
2 – beef cube stir fry thingy
3 – Japanese style fried chicken
4 – steam egg custardy thing in a tiny bowl. Um… google it!
5 – there is no five, you may have noticed. Except that there is because this is it. This is a secret bit. You may have noticed that we had no sushi. A bit odd when going to a place called Sushi Master. Well, since it’s only really Jo and I who are the sushi monkeys, and that there was so much other interesting stuff to try, and that I’m on a quest for Japanese food that is not sushi, we decided to forgo said raw fish for that night. Jo and I will return by ourselves, or with other sushi monkeys, and try some then. The menu looked shortish, but with interesting animals. We’ll be back!