Tag Archives: japanese

Haiku Review

I was, of course, tempted to write this review in Haiku format.
But I did not.
Be thankful.

Haiku was great. I’ve had my Japanese-Cracker hand forced slightly due to lack of availability (if you know a good Japanese restaurant in Cape Town, please drop it in the comments!), so I’ve expanded my general theme to Asian, preferably Japanese (because i like it), preferably not Thai (because we eat it at home a lot).

The place itself is tres chic. The bar at the front is particularly swish. We’re talking dark furnishings, a few shiny bits, and lots of spotlights (hung from the tall, tall, ceiling to head high (ish)). It felt a little too trendy for me, to be honest, but the staff were welcoming and friendly (and I’m not exactly Mr TrendyPants (as evidenced by me saying Mr TrendyPants)). The back 4/5 of the place is the restaurant, with a strip all the way down one side being the kitchen and the gaggle (pot? susan? broth?) of chefs, all specialists in their various bits.

The menu is big (and missing from their web site – boo). Three pages big, packed with tasty-sounding treats. It’s divided into sections by style more than by country, so you have stir-fried dishes together, tempura stuff together, and so on.
Roughly speaking, we had:

  • veggie tempura (solid, but not amazing. Great sauce, though);
  • soft shell crab tempura (very good. Crunchy!);
  • Chicken and mushroom hotpot (a surprise star. Recommended by the waiter on the grounds of being a lot more interesting than it sounds. He was right!);
  • Dim Sum (lots of dim sum. I think I may have found a place to return to regularly for Dim Sum – is good, me like.);
  • Cheung Fun (chinese canneloni, which I remember first having as chopstick-test by Chinese friends in London.);
  • duck pancakes (of course. Hat tip JT. Good, but not amazing);
  • Beef katsu (breadcrumbed, seared, cow.);
  • Thai salad (the weakest dish of the lot. A bit too fusion, so it lost it Thai character);
  • Sizzling ostrich (juicy and tasty, but not mind-blowing).

Phew! And I’m sure I missed some. We definitely over-ordered. But then, it was Salty Cracker. :)

Service was good, but very slightly patchy. Our waiter was friendly and attentive, except for a short period near the end-game when I was wanting water and to ask for the bill.

Ratings? Ratings.

Atmosphere: 7 / 10 (Very trendy, but still nice for “normal” folk. Ahem.)
Staff: 9 / 10 (Friendly, chatty, excellent knowledge of the menu, very good with recommendations.)
Service: 7 / 10 (No real complaints, but wouldn’t mention it as special.)
Food: 8 / 10 (A wide spread of countries and styles without feeling stretched or that there are any “filler” items (iyswim), and very, very, tasty.)
Value for money: 6 / 10 (Pricey for what is, especially the Dim Sum.)


Addendum: We jetted off to the Jewel Tavern last night for a quick Chinese comparison. It’s a tough call, to be honest. Jewel has a lot more of the classics, and it does them very well, at a good price. Haiku’s Chinese section contains more unusual stuff, but at a higher price point.

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.