Kubo’s Little Japan review

I must admit that I like to be in aesthetically pleasing surrounds. I will often drive a longer route if the view is better. This also applies to restaurants, I generally like places that are good looking or interesting. However, sometimes a dodgy looking place can have a lot of character and be home to some great food.

Kubo’s Little Japan looks pretty dodgy, in fact it’s downstairs from an escort agency which you can peer into if you go to the loo (I didn’t see anything interesting). The decor is minimal (tending toward non-existent) with cheap tables and chairs. Even with a squash, you can fit less than 20 people in the restaurant. It feels almost as if you are in someone’s kitchen. The staff struggle with english, which is a testament to the authenticity of the restaurant and Kubo is obviously not in it just for the money as it closes quite early (around 9:30pm). In fact, the menu states that it is open Mon – Sat, 18:00 till ‘Not Late’. Lunch is Mon – Fri 12:00 till 14:00.

For a place like this to be successful, the food has to be interesting, quality and good value. Five of us had dinner there the other night and found that to be the case. They have soups (R18), salads (R24), fried rice or noodle options (R30-R40) and stirfrys (R22-R33) but we were interested in the sushi and a couple of other interesting things. We tried the chicken yakitori (R22) which was not bad. We had the tempura vegetables (R28) which were great. We also tried the steamed veggies (R33) which was good value and very enjoyable. We tried the salmon california roll and the tuna california roll (not sure what the price was), as well as the eel nigiri (R36 for2). We had a spicy tuna maki (R26) which was great. That was all we needed between the 5 of us. The sushi I would say was of a high standard. Not the neatest, but fresh and light (not stodgy).

The wine list is short but has something for most palates and the prices are good. We didn’t have dessert but if I had to choose I would go for the pumpkin crepe. The tempura (fried) Bar One with ice cream sounds like a very pleasant way to die.

Overall, Kubo’s Little Japan turned out to be great value casual dining, which explains why you need to book if you want a table. Wednesday and Saturday nights are 30% off the food for tables of ladies (not sure what that’s about). And they are famous for their ‘lunchbox’ (R79) special, which is customisable. Give them a try, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Kubo’s Little Japan
48 Riebeek Street, Cape Town
Tel: 021 421 4360 / 082 855 0208


  1. pia August 8, 2008 at 10:18 am

    hey dax
    sounds like quite a place 🙂 thanks for pointing it out.

    ps. what’s with this ‘mycapetown’ trackback (above) – whoever it is seems to be mirroring your content and claiming it as his own?

  2. Dax August 8, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Yeah, not sure what the deal is with that website. They didn’t ask permission, so while I can’t stop them from using my content, these trackbacks are going in the spam bin.

  3. Lauren C May 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    apparently Kubo’s has closed down now??

  4. Dax May 27, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Really? I need to confirm that. I also heard that Fabulous closed down but I drove past last night and they were open…

  5. Cara May 28, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Dax, the ol’ Fabulous spot is now a Bicycle Club. Open they are, but Moroccan restaurant they are no more. Then, Donatella’s at the V&A joined the Greenpoint Mellissa’s in the “now closed coffee shop” category too.

  6. Dax May 28, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks for that info Cara. I thought Melissa’s in Greenpoint was just closed for renovations? I don’t think I even know where Donatella’s was in the V&A. Guess that might be a clue why they closed.

  7. Cara May 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Hmmm…perhaps that is the case for Melissa’s. Donatella’s was in the mall en route to the Balducci’s / San Marco entrance. Right in the middle.

  8. karen June 24, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Sorry, what was the conclusion – is Kubo’s still open?

  9. Dax June 24, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    The phone line is no longer in operation, so I’m assuming they are closed.

  10. David February 8, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Kubo’s Little Japan has reopened as Sushi Master. Same vibe, same lack of decoration and same fantastic sushi. Sadly, Kubo returned to Japan due to poor health, but the new owner provides the same care and great food and personalised service.

    If you like Kubo’s, you’ll probably like Sushi Master. Was there last week and am heading back with friends this week. Was a little quiet, and I’m hoping more people go to keep them in business. With such incredible, fresh sushi it would be a shame for them not to get support.