Kyoto Sushi Garden review

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

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5 Responses

  1. Lisa says:

    For anyone who loves the sea and is thinking of visiting this restaurant, you might want to think again. They do sell bluefin tuna when they can get hold of it, even though the species is in a dire state. See http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/smart_fishing/sustainable_fisheries/bluefin_tuna/ if you’d like to find out more.

  2. Dax says:

    So my next visit to Kyoto Sushi Garden was last night, nearly four years later. I should really get there more often.

    It was interesting reading my review again after all this time. It’s still pretty accurate, especially the part about the toilets.

    The food is still amazingly fresh and relies on the flavours of the good quality ingredients.

    They have an additional section now, having expanded into the next door property. The new section has one big table, great for private dining.

    I tasted a new cocktail, I can’t remember what it was called, something about green tea. It was fabulous.

    Then I had the tempura light again, which was as awesome as I remember it being, but the price is now R70. For mains I had the bamboo steamed fish and it was superb. Very delicate and subtle. It was quite pricey at R160.

    My dining partner started with the Japanese coleslaw with crayfish (R55), which was really quite spectacular. I will order that next time, even though my tempura was awesome. For main she ordered the Futo Maki (R55) which is like giant maki rolls with about 5 different things in them, that too was amazing.

    I was really seriously impressed with the food. I was going to say it’s expensive but I realise that I just ordered expensive stuff, it’s actually quite reasonable.

    I hereby resolve to eat at Kyoto Sushi Garden more regularly.

  3. Greg S says:

    Dax, perhaps you have undersold KGS a little? What a beautiful dining experience, everything from the decor, music, food & service was impeccably selected. All the food was excellent however the piece de resistance was the Green Tea ice cream with green tea crepe…. Simply elegant flavors.
    The decor was very zen-like and the owner has certainly nailed down the ‘look & feel’ of Japan
    Highly recommend this restaurant

  4. Jane Hughes says:

    The best sushi in Cape Town: Kyoto Garden Sushi

    I am a frequent globe trotter with some certainty that I’ve been in some very good sushi joints world wide enough to say i have a fair standard of sushi-judging.

    I have visited beluga, Sevruga, Willoughby and nobu which have been so called rated as the best for quality of sushi. I was just scanning through my lonely planet tourist guide to find some thing to do, when I saw article on Kyoto garden sushi. Tucked away on Lower Kloofnek Road, very easy to find parking not too over crowded.

    upon entering Kyoto Garden Sushi, I felt like I was transported Japanese restaurant in Tokyo. The place definitely had a lot of thought and taste get put in to it, Japanese style at its best. The Zen-like atmosphere was so relaxing. mini water feature next to the bathrooms only added to this.

    The menu confirmed the Japanese authenticity allong with the Japanese Sushi, I had never had abalone sushi. While the menu doesn’t have what you’d expect as the full range of Japanese dishes, I had never thought of having tempura oysters.

    We were handed a cocktail menu on being seated, the boyfriend had a drink mix of whisky, lime, fresh ginger and I had a drink called the dirty ninja, it was not the name that sold it but the fact of putting cucumber with sake, i had to try it to see if it worked. the drinks were very well thought of and tasted great.

    after ordering we were served snacks edamame beans, baby clams, prawns, fried squid and jellyfish. You have to love about Japanese people they’ll eat anything. You could never accuse them of unadventurous eating. It all felt very authentic.

    For starters, the boyfriend had Miso soup, and I tried The Sea, Both were delicious.

    We moved onto the highlight of the evening: a chef’s choice sushi platter of sashimi, nigiri and california rolls. I can’t effuse enough praise on the sushi: it was unfaultable. The fish was the freshest I’ve ever had in a long time even when I have been for sushi London and New York, the rice was perfectly soft and flavoured and even the wasabi paste tasted better than at other sushi restaurants. I could have eaten piles more.

    we got told about the dessert by the polite waiter who told us about Green tea ice cream with a green tea crêpe, that topped off my evening.
    But seeing as the rest of the food was so top-notch, I decided I had to come back before we left back to the Uk. I felt that we had not even delved deep enough in the how good the rest of the meanu is and I felt am going to miss out on some very special foods.

    Scott the owner who told us that he only uses the freshest ingredients available and had also traveled extensively. It’s this attention to freshness that is clearly evident in the dishes and makes Kyoto Garden Sushi stand out from its competitors.

    Kyoto Garden Sushi is a bit more pricey than your average sushi restaurant, but then it’s definitely not your average sushi restaurant. It’s more a special occasion kind of place

    This is the place to go for fine Sushi and fantastic cooked Japanese food for sure. I have never been so impressed.

    Best regards
    Jane

  5. Dax says:

    2 and a half years since my last visit, I had the pleasure of dining at Kyoto Garden Sushi again last night. Each time I return, I wonder why I don’t dine there more often. It really is a fantastic experience.

    The prices on my original review are basically irrelevant, the prices have increased as one would expect. In fact even my prices below might be wrong as I’m doing this from memory.

    We tried several dishes, the highlight for me is the Japanese coleslaw with crayfish (R120). I know it sounds boring, but seriously, it. will. change. your. life!

    The yellowtail ceviche was amazing (R95). And as usual the tempura was spectacular. I would say the best tempura in Cape Town by a mile. We tried the vegetables, prawn and scallop tempura (R95), the tempura scallops were also amazing.

    We tried the miso soup, very different from the spicy soups you would get at most Asian places, as with all dishes at Kyoto the flavours are more subtle and allow the ingredients to shine. The crab miso is also great, mainly because it’s a treat to have decent fresh crab for a change!

    Basically you can’t go wrong on the menu, everything is delicious. They have added some meat options but I wouldn’t stray from the seafood, it’s too good to miss.

    2 things to note… they now have a private dining room which can seat up to 16. No venue charge, so keep that in mind. And also, they have an early evening (order before 7pm) set menu at R150. Miso, edamame, california rolls, veg tempura and dessert… that’s amazing value.