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