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