There was a time when sushi lovers flocked to Minato, just off Cape Town’s Long Street. With a tattoo parlour as a neighbour, tacky décor and a ramshackle front, it was the definition of ‘hole in a wall’. But the sushi was legendary and night after night it was packed to capacity.
Hatsushiro Muraoka, better known as Papa San, has since sold said restaurant and in 2011 took up space in Park Road, Gardens. A hundred times more fashionable, in a revamped Victorian building, the wooden décor is modern and minimalist and there’s no resemblance of the old Minato. But Papa San is still in the kitchen every day and you’re reminded of his past stardom – he was once the face of Douglas Green ads – by massive (slight creepy) laughing portraits in the main dining area.
As with the original Minato, not everyone likes the way the sushi is cut, often into large unwieldy pieces that make for impolite open-mouth chewing. The service can be hit or miss with rather apathetic managers – perhaps there’s a complacency because the sushi really is that good.
Order in one go, don’t make any substitutions and embrace the new-fangled mayo-topped, deep-fried sushi. Still not convinced? Try the Original Special Minato Rolls, salmon, tuna and avo (no rice), fried in a tempura batter.
Old Minato’s regulars will appreciate that everything is still cooked to order, so it’s always fresh. Portion size is still very generous and the famous Boat, a platter served upon a small wooden boat, is still on the menu.
But, as you’d expect, with a trendy new location, rent has gone up and prices have increased. Expect to pay R130 for eight massive rainbow rolls and R65 for four pieces of salmon sashimi.
The wine list features old restaurant standards such as Terra Del Capo Pinot Grigio and Haute Cabriere Chardonnay-Pinot Noir. We ordered Adi Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin for R145. If you want something remarkable, BYO at R40 a bottle (limited to one bottle for 4 diners).
Get a babysitter. No kids under 10. www.takumi.co.za; 021 424 8879
- Emma Odendaal was deputy editor of Wine magazine and managing editor of Getaway and is now doing cool stuff at Fresh Living. She contributes to various food and travel publications.