I’ve been curious to try out Kyoto Sushi Garden for a while. I’ve heard mixed reports which always makes me interested to see for myself.
First impressions are lasting impressions they say, and aesthetically, this venue is very impressive. It’s a small restaurant, probably seats 30 or 40 people if you include the seats along the sushi bar. The decor is very light and modern but peaceful. Peaceful like a garden, maybe that’s the reason for the name. The toilets might be the best toilets I have seen in a restaurant. They are spotless and there is a stunning little water feature. A trip to the bathroom feels like you just went on a relaxing walk in a garden. I may sound like I’m going overboard here, but seriously, when you see it you’ll understand.
I started the evening with a Kyoto Cosmo which is one of the nicest cocktails I’ve had in a long time. I find Cosmos are often too sweet, this one is lighter and slightly sour. We drank Quando Sauvignon Blanc (R120) for the rest of the evening. The wine list is short, about 5 whites and 5 reds but this place is more about food than wine.
For starters I had the small Chef’s Creation sushi platter (R75). It consisted of 4 pieces of tuna california roll, 4 pieces of sashimi and 4 nigiri. It also comes in medium and large. My partner had the Tempura Light (R45) with veggies, a prawn and a scallop. The starters were not a taste extravaganza but the ingredients were very fresh, which always makes eating a pleasure. Kyoto pride themselves on their fresh ingredients and the pièce de résistance is the fresh wasabi root they import from Japan. They show you the root and prepare some for you in addition to the usual wasabi paste you normally get at restaurants. There is no comparison, the real fresh wasabi is so much better that you can’t bring yourself to eat the paste.
For mains my partner had the Special Fish & Rice (R55) which sounded a bit boring but wasn’t. The fish that day was Kabbeljou/Cob and I’m not sure if it was steamed or what but it was very delicate with equally delicate spices which complimented it very well. My partner was exclaiming delightedly with each mouthful and embarrassingly, I couldn’t stop myself exclaiming a little when I tried it. Once again, not a taste extravaganza, just fresh and well prepared with delicate flavours. No heavy sauces or spices, a heavy red wine would murder it.
I had the the Saute (R65) of tofu, oysters, scallops, mushrooms, prawns, octopus and greens. I asked them to go easy on the tofu, thinking it would be little tofu blocks sauted with everything else, but actually the saute is served on what can only be described as seared tofu steaks. They were soft and light, reminiscent of creme caramel (texture, not taste). I’m definitely a tofu novice so maybe this is the norm but I was pleasantly surprised. The Saute ingredients were fresh like everything else was, no heavy sauce so you could actually enjoy the individual tastes.
One of the things I really like about Kyoto Sushi Garden is the portion size. They don’t give you giant plates of food so you feel stuffed. The servings are just enough and even though you are eating quality seafood a lot of the time, the prices are very reasonable. We skipped dessert, but I tried some Sake (R30) for the first time, only to learn that it’s definitely an acquired taste. Before we left I visited the bathroom again, even though I didn’t need to go.
My experience at Kyoto Sushi was most enjoyable. It’s not a vibey restaurant, it’s a quiet, relaxing restaurant with quality food.
Kyoto Sushi Garden
11 Lower Kloofnek Rd, Tamboerskloof
021 422 2001