Category Archives: Steve’s choice

Wasabi Review

Woo!

The slightly last minute choice to do Cracker at all this month, and the choice of venue, seemed to work out well. Wasabi (official site, @ eat out, @ dining-out) in Constantia Village was great. I’m trying to keep Japanese-ish themes for my picks and not (just) sushi joints as I realise that not all the Crackers love sushi as much as I do :-). We also had a special guest star: Jess Ma!

We had a great waiter – Darren, IIRC – who employed Surfer Zen to deal with the a-bit-mad shenanigans of our table with dignity and aplomb. He was pleasant, attentive, and friendly without being intrusive – a difficult combo to get right. Also, he said Bru a lot, which was schweet :). We gave a healthy tip on the bill, which he richly deserved.

The restaurant is technically in a mall, but it’s not in the main building. There’s a satellite mini-mall thing with a few shops and a few restaurants, with much of it open to the sky (a la Willowbridge, my favourite shopping centre that’s nothing like a shopping centre, where Jo and I often go and nosh when I’m at her offices). The place was bustling but not crowded, and it felt like we had our own space, despite the fact there were a couple of table around us.

For starters, we shared a bunch of Dim Sum and related type things – lamb gyoza, chicken siu mai, prawn har gau, duck spring rolls, some tempura prawns and a Thai beef salad. The actual dim sum ones were well made (and all aufentic and stuff), and were pleasant enough, but not massively tasty. The lamb gyoza were tasty, but unlike any other gyoza I’ve had before – bit dry. The duck spring rolls were great, but the winner for me was the Thai beef salad – the sweet chilli and stuff sauce was divine and the beef was just cooked enough.

The food was a bit slow between starters and mains, but our waiter was good with the wine refills (and the jugs of tap water), so it wasn’t too bad.

For main course the table had Tuna Steak (Jo (seared (the Tuna, no the Jo) and Eck), Crispy Duck (Jess), Grilled Linefish [panga] (Jill), Steamed Salmon (me). Jo’s Tuna came out cooked, not seared, so she sent it back. No questioning from the staff, no quibbling, just apologies and a quick turn around for the replacement choona, which was fantastic. The duck was, as expected, superb – crunchy, crispy, pancakey. The Panga was very tasty – good fish! Winner for me was my salmon (tra la la) which was soft, tasty, and had a delicious delicate sauce – salty, slightly sweet.

Somehow dessert was managed by some of the table. Eck had the restaurant’s signature Peppermint Zen (a big glass of layered peppermint and caramel bits), Jess had Three Lindt Ball Eruption (no sniggering at the back!), Jo had the Sorbet Threesome (no sniggering at the back!) which Jill and I kindly helped with (no sni- um …). The Zen was great, but large – Eck fought bravely, though, and made it to the end. The Balls were good – chocolatey and appropriately messy. The sorbet was very refreshing and unusually flavoured.

I only took a flying glance at their sushi menu as I didn’t want to be tempted, but it looks like they’ve got some interesting stuff, so Jo and I will be returning for raw fish and rice soon.

Using the work-in-progress Salty Cracker Scores On The Doors Restaurant Ranking System ™ (or SCSOTDRRS for short):

Atmosphere: 7 / 10
Staff: 9 / 10
Service: 7 / 10
Food: 7 / 10
Value for money: 6 / 10

Fujiyama review

Or,

A Tale Of Two Restaurants

It was the best of Crack, it was the worst of Crack.
No, wait.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a Salty Cracker.
Uh… no.

This is not a review of Kubo’s Little Japan on Riebeek St in town, even though that was my choice for June Crackage.
Jo’s eagle eyes spotted it tucked away near the corner of Buitengracht and Riebeek street, and we hung a U-turn to park smartly right by the front door. It looked kind of quiet (and dark), but we ventured in anyways. Turns out Kubo’s is shut for the next few months, as the kind gentleman in the Boom Boom Shakalak bar on the floor above informed us.

Walking briskly back to the car, we shot off for my back up plan: Fujiyama (conveniently located under Cedar Cafe). Also looked kind of quiet (and dark), and had a “To Let” sign in the window. Twas not boding well.
However, they were open – huzzah! And tasty – hazzuh!
We were the only people in the front room all night, which was kind of strange, but kind of entertaining too. Noticed right at the end of the night that there were three other rooms there, including a traditional shoes-off, low-down-table one. Squee!

We got a little bowl of some marinated nummy, soy saucey, slighty sweety tuna for an appetiser, then dove into a table-shared two big plates of veggie and fishy tempura and a plate of chicken katsu. Nom!
The chicken was good, but the tempura was ace. Very light and crispy.

Main course action was: beef soba (soup w/ thin noodles) for Jo; beef udon (soup w/ fat noodles) for me; chicken nabe (brothy soup w/ noodles) for Jess; fillet teppanyaki for Eckhard.
My soup was very, very, tasty and had a nice, thinly sliced, chunk of meat and a few crunchy veggies in.
Eck’s fillet cubes were medium-rared to perfection.

The wine list was also reasonably priced. It is, of course, marked up from farm price, but not by a nosebleed-inducing amount (unlike someplaces *cough* myoga *cough*. Well, to be fair, most restaurants.).

The bad news is they’re closing, sort of, in the next few days. Actually, they’re moving to two spots on Long Street. One on Long, opposite the Purple Turtle, for take-aways, and one around the corner for sit-downs (the head waiter gentlemen kindly informed us on our way out).

All in all, a successful Crackage, despite the initial impending doom feeling when 1st choice was closed.
I look forward to trying their new place. Japanese food FTW!

Benkei Review

Review in brief:
food generally good, generous portions, reasonable prices, service a bit lacking.

So, after dipping out off a wine farm lunch on Friday due to time and heat constraints, we decided to Crack our Salty selves on Saturday instead.

I was in the mood for some Japanese food, but specifically not sushi. So, after hitting the Eat Out and Dining Out sites and the EO book, I chose Benkei (menu at DO).

We did our usual frisky food swapping.
Our starters were:

  • Tuna, Ginger and Wasabi Spring rolls with Sweet Chilli sauce,
  • Chicken Yakitori, kebab-style
  • Seafood Yakitori,
  • Tempura prawns, fish, calamari and veggies
  • Sashimi salad.

All were pretty nummy, but special mention goes to the Spring Rolls (crunchy and good tuna) and the tempura (nice and crispy, good side sauce).
You may notice that there were five starters for four people.
We were hungry :).

Our mains were Teppanyaki stuff:

  • Beef Fillet
  • Seared Tuna Steak x 2
  • Seafood Platter (fish, prawns, calamari steak)

They took quite a while bringing out the starters, and the mains arrived almost the instant they took the starters away, which was not great.
The tunii arrived seared to perfection, but unfortunately a bit cold. So, we sent them both back to be warmed up and they returned pretty much cooked. I was a bit miffed, but the fishies were still very tasty.
The Beefy was done just right (nice and pink and soft and good), and Eck’s seafood-for-two was a decent mix of denizens of the deep. I admit to being surprised that he managed to get the whole lot down – it was a whole lotta fish!

Overall quality of the service could be improved.
The waiters were friendly, but not quite attentive enough – we had to call our guy back to open our first bottle of wine for us (and I get very tetchy when I don’t have a drink in my hand soon after sitting down ;-] ).
And I was a bit annoyed by the fact that they started closing up the place while were still sitting there eating. This was before 10pm on a Saturday evening. Admittedly, we were the last ones there, but still.

So, I’m glad that I chose there, and I had a pleasant evening, but I won’t hurrying back there.
Plenty more Japanese joints to try!

Non-food information confirmed during the meal:
rimshot is the technical term for the bdum-tss at a punchline. Not to be confused with (NSFW) rimjob, (Arnold Judas) Rimmer, or just plain old (bling, mofo!) rims.