10 Cape Town sushi spots to suit every pocket

Surrounded by ocean on three sides, it’s no surprise Cape Town is brimming with great sushi restaurants. Whether you value panoramas, price or perfectly authentic sushi, the city is your culinary oyster… or California Roll.

How deep are your pockets? That’s the first question you need to ask yourself before setting off for an evening of sushi in Cape Town.

If they’re not too deep, you’re in luck: Cape Town abounds with affordable sushi restaurants. What’s more, if you dine at lunchtime you’ll find set menus and discount a la carte offerings that make a sushi meal seem like a bargain. In the city centre Active Sushi is usually a good bet, while the low-key Café Paparazzi in St George’s mall serves office workers a quick sushi lunch at good prices. Out of the city centre, Salushi in Claremont and Empire Sushi on Sea Point’s Main Road both offer top-notch sushi at good prices.

If you have a few extra rands to spare, you’re spoilt for choice. Locals swear by Willoughby’s & Co. at the popular V&A Waterfront shopping precinct: the sushi is excellent, and well priced for the quality. The downside? You’re eating in a shopping mall. If you’re going to eat sushi in a mall, rather do it at nearby Balducci’s where you can at least enjoy the harbour views.

Or, better still, head for Izakaya Matsuri. Hidden behind The Rockwell hotel in Green Point it’s a little hard to find, but worth seeking out. Forget boring old California Rolls and look forward to the likes of crunchy tempura eel, and spider rolls with real crab legs. Make sure you start with the excellent miso soup.

In the bohemian suburb of Observatory, 1890 Sushi House is a local favourite with plenty of charm to match the excellent sushi. It’s a little off the beaten track for tourists, but combines excellent value with extremely good sushi. Ask if they have eel available: their Dragon Rolls with roasted eel are memorable.

Takumi in the city centre is also memorable, not least for the famously cantankerous sushi chef known simply as Papa-san. Tucked away a few steps from buzzy Kloof Street, this is a great option for a platter before a party. Papa-san likes to get creative, so although you’ll find good rolls and sashimi here, get ready to be adventurous.

The same goes for Kyoto Garden, just up the road. This serene, stylish restaurant offers perhaps the most authentic Japanese cuisine in the city, and before you move on to sushi you shouldn’t miss out on the array of Japanese-inspired dishes. It’s expensive, but worth every cent for top-notch cooking. The sushi blends authenticity with adventure, and some of the finest fresh fish in the Mother City. Save your rands and pay it a visit.

Kyoto comes to Cape Town at this authentic Japanese restaurant

Kyoto Garden Sushi is far and away the finest Japanese restaurant in the city.

You’ll never struggle to find a sushi restaurant in Cape Town. There are dozens of them spread across Cape Town, each seemingly competing to offer the most sushi for the lowest price. But when it comes to sushi, quality and quantity don’t stack up. Less is definitely more in this delicate culinary art, an art that Kyoto Garden Sushi gets right every single time.

The Japanese restaurant’s American owner Scott Wood landed up in Cape Town a decade ago and never left. Today he spends his time sourcing the very best seafood from across the globe for his Japanese chefs to conjure into a magical meal. The menu is lengthy and sometimes confusing, but take your time and let your taste buds set off on a Japanese food adventure.

Start with a soup: ‘The Sea’ is superb, all clean briny broth brimming with prawns, scallops and octopus. The ‘Salads’ are also wonderful, as are the feather-light tempura dishes. Try a starter of delicate rice paper rolls filled with prawns and scallops, or dip into Nikkei cuisine with the fantastic ceviche of fresh linefish.

Then it’s on to the main courses, where you’ll find wonderful fresh seafood as well as sautéed noodles and carefully seared duck. If you’re sticking with seafood the dish ‘Alaskan Night’ is a triumph of seared Alaskan salmon, giant scallop and Alaskan king crab.

The sushi, if you have space, comes right at the end; the coup de grace of a memorable Asian meal. Sashimi and nigiri rule the menu here, traditional sushi combining perfect rice with fresh fish. If you’re feeling adventurous try the miso-glazed eel or fatty tuna belly.

A meal at Kyoto Garden Sushi certainly isn’t the cheapest way to eat sushi in Cape Town, but it’s far and away the finest restaurant to enjoy a true taste of Japanese cuisine in the city.

Lunch for less! 5 spots for good value lunch specials in Cape Town

Take a load off your pocket with one of these good-value lunch specials in Cape Town…

Aaaah, lunch. That glorious excuse to put our feet up and forget about pounding the pavements for a while. Happily, it also doesn’t have to cost the earth, thanks to these wallet-saving lunch specials.

If you fancy a quick bite and ice-cold beer while exploring the city centre, pop in to the buzzy Beerhouse on Long Street. Their lunchtime special menu varies through the week, and could be sticky chicken kebabs or a bunnychow of curried chickpeas. But, the deal remains the same each day: R50 gets you a generous meal and a 350ml draft beer. Score!

Up the road, the ever-popular Rick’s Café Americain also offers superb deals between 11h00 and 17h00. For R65 there’s a choice of dishes each day, from gnocchi in blue cheese and cream sauce, to succulent West Coast mussels in spaghetti. There’s even a low-carb Banting option available daily.

With its stunning harbour views and retail outlets, the V&A Waterfront isn’t known for its restaurant bargains, but Balducci’s has a great deal come lunchtime. For R129 you can tuck into a bento box with 23 pieces of sushi, with a complimentary miso soup to start. Or, if you’d prefer something heartier, try the 250g sirloin with a choice of starch or vegetables. Yours for just R95. There are also pizza and pasta specials at R65 each. Offer valid from noon to 18h00 daily.

Fancy some more sushi? Active Sushi on Bree Street has the deal in town: their lunchtime platters range from R60-R90 for 10-20 pieces of sushi, which include California rolls, fashion sandwiches and salmon roses. There’s a decent selection of wines by the glass available too, so you can enjoy a decadent sushi lunch for less than 100 bucks. Of course, don’t forget to tip.

If you’re out in the southern suburbs, the old-school Barrister’s Grill is a good spot to stop at: while not overloaded with charm, their daily pub lunch special is a steal at just R55. Take your pick from the daily dishes on the special menu: expect pub-grub classics from the Barristers burger to pork chops or bangers and mash. Hearty fare at a great price.