Google+ Rurousha 流浪者: Japanese food in South Africa

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Japanese food in South Africa

When I started blogging, I swore I'd never do a food post. I've broken that promise to myself several times, and here I go again, with a post about Japanese food in South Africa.

The whole world, including South Africa, has jumped on the sushi bandwagon. I'm not a sushi expert – I eat very little seafood – but my sushi boffin friend Vox assures me that you can, indeed, get good stuff down south.

Sushi salad in Woolworths

You can even eat at a restaurant that belongs to celebrity chef Nobuyuki Nobu Matsuhisa, who has several chichi eateries in international locations. I looked at the menu of his Cape Town restaurant, and the prices are certainly not exorbitant for South Africa.

This article has a list of the ten best sushi restaurants in Cape Town. One of them, Genki, is actually in Stellenbosch, and I've been there, eaten tempura and talked – in Japanese – to chef Arata Koga. It's a great restaurant. Highly recommended.

Genki in Stellenbosch

Genki chef Arata Koga

Is South African sushi "real" sushi? Yes and no. Some of it is as near as damnit to what you get in Japan; most of it has more avocado, cucumber and wasabi  (which is OK-ish) or canned tuna and mayonnaise (I kid you not) than raw tuna.

Genki is the real McCoy (the real Suzuki?); this menu, which I spotted in a supermarket called SPAR, is not.


You can also buy sushi at Woolworths, or Woolies as it's affectionately known in South Africa. It's modelled on Britain's Marks & Spencer, but it's completely independent. I miss Woolies food more than I miss my family.

Sorry, but … there you have it.

Woolies as well as other supermarkets also sell Japanese products like miso, Kikkoman soy sauce, nori, sushi rice, etc. You'll find it on the "Asian" shelf, together with Chinese, Indian and Thai ingredients. These four cuisines are all very popular in South Africa.





(Lina, Malaysian food, or rather Cape-Malay food, is regarded as local food in the Western Cape. It's just chucked onto the ordinary shelves along with everything else.)
  
I smiled when I saw how often sushi-related ingredients were described as "exotic". I also noticed that South Africa is going through a wasabi craze: wasabi peanuts, wasabi crisps, wasabi chocolate.

Extremely exotic!




I've included photos of a Cape Town restaurant called Fujiyama (which I passed but didn't enter), a Stellenbosch restaurant called Umami (which despite its name serves pizza and koeksisters) and a Thai noodle franchise called Simply Asia.

PS: If you want to compare prices, it's very easy to convert South African rand to Japanese yen: just add a zero. R10 = ¥100.

Fujiyama in Cape Town has a chef that hails from Fukuoka.



Umami in Stellenbosch

"Umami" is a Japanese word for the so-called fifth taste, corresponding to
the flavour of glutamates. This Stellenbosch restaurant doesn't serve
Japanese food, but it has a glorious courtyard, doesn't it?

Simply Asia in central Cape Town (above) and Stellenbosch (below)


You can buy ingredients for Asian cuisines at this speciality store in Durbanville.

Nothing to do with food, but I spotted this well-known Japanese
educational company in Newlands in Cape Town.

A photo for Lina: spices in a Bo-Kaap Cape-Malay shop

53 comments:

  1. I used to love wasabi peas - you could get them everywhere in Canada, but I don't see them here very often. Did you try any of the wasabi offerings?

    And those spices?! Makes my fingers twitch as I want to cook something!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I ate wasabi peanuts (very nice), but for once in my life turned down chocolate! Wasabi chocolate? Err ...

      I brought some biryani spice with me, but I haven't used it yet.

      Delete
    2. Have you had the wasabi flavour kit kats? They aren't bad, actually! Although nowhere near as good as the current "adult" green tea kit kats... those are good!!

      Biryani spice? Mmmmm! I love biryani! ;)

      Delete
    3. Would you try bacon chocolate? It's pretty popular in America, and to a lesser extent Canada. I don't like it though.

      Delete
    4. Sarah, I've never tried wasabi KitKat, but I like the green tea ones. I still insist that the blueberry cheesecake KitKat was the best flavour ever. ^^

      Delete
    5. Dru, I think I'd rather try wasabi chocolate than bacon chocolate! (+_+)

      I've tried lots of different flavours at the 100% Chocolate Cafe. They also have wasabi chocolate, but I've always avoided it. Perhaps I should give it a go?

      PS: That cafe currently has a "sakura and peach champagne" special chocolate for White Day. Ooo. ^^

      Delete
    6. Ru - try the new green tea kitkats! Much better than earlier versions!

      Dru - bacon chocolate?! Really? BACON chocolate?! Urrrrmmm...

      Delete
    7. I bought green tea KitKats just last week, but I didn't eat it myself. I mailed it overseas to ... can't say ... that would spoil the surprise. OK, I'll buy another one (or three) for myself. ^^

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who did a double take when I read about bacon chocolate!

      Delete
    8. Let me know what you think of it - the "adult" green tea kitkats, that is, not the bacon chocolate!

      Delete
    9. Yes, ma'am!

      PS: I binged on real bacon in South Africa. Now, in Japan, it's back to "bacon" that resembles diffident ham. Sigh.

      Delete
    10. Personally, I prefer Canadian bacon. Nice and crispy. :)

      As for the chocolate:

      http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/product/bacon_exotic_candy_bar/exotic_candy_bars

      To make matters worse, there is a maple bacon doughnut as well:
      http://voodoodoughnut.com/doughnuts.html

      I tried the chocolate bacon, but it wasn't great. I thought it was way overpriced.

      Delete
    11. Oy. Our SA bacon is also nice and crispy! Hmph. ^^

      Vosges has a ... shall we say interesting? ... an interesting chocolate collection. I think I'll just order their champagne truffles! :)

      Maple bacon doughnut? Hallo, heart attack.

      These unusual combinations remind me of a Gatsby, a Cape Town dish that consists of a huge bread roll stuffed with chips (or French fries in American English). Bread and potatoes? Hallo, obesity!

      http://pessimistincarnate.blogspot.com/2010/09/south-african-gatsby-sandwich-to-rule.html

      Delete
    12. Maple and bacon I can handle, on a doughnut? Ummm... (I LOVE maple syrup on my breakfast sausages but not on my pancakes...)

      Delete
    13. I was just going to roll my eyes at this maple syrup plus sausage combination that's so popular in certain unmentionable countries, but then I remembered that South Africans love to combine salty meat with sweet fruit. One of my favourite sandwich combinations is smoked snoek (a very salty fish) and apricot jam. You're allowed to faint now. :D

      Delete
    14. If you want strange combinations, you can check out this YouTube channel:
      http://www.youtube.com/user/EpicMealTime

      There is no real reason to do what they are doing, but they did.

      I personally don't want any maple and bacon together. Sausages and maple syrup is good though.

      Delete
    15. (@_@)

      That's my reaction after watching those videos. Though I couldn't help laughing either. They're fun to watch; ta for the link.

      But ... what's the difference between bacon&maple and sausage&maple?!

      Delete
    16. I like the videos too. Apparently the food isn't that bad.

      As for bacon and sausage. Sausage isn't as crispy. :)

      Delete
    17. Why does crispy make any diff ...

      OK, I give up. I'll just believe you. ^^

      Delete
  2. This is very interesting. When I was in Finland, I found many kinds of sushi and tried them. It's always interesting to know how they eat our food. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Japanese food in South Africa is either really good or really awful. If you address the chef in Japanese and you get a blank look, it's usually better to run away. ^^

      Delete
  3. This is fun! I didn't expect to see sushi in supermarkets in South Africa. And Kumon? (@_@)

    Thanks to you, South Africa doesn't seem so far away now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sushi is fairly common in cities, especially in Cape Town, but I don't think you'd find it in rural areas. South Africa's rural areas love beef and mutton; chicken is regarded as a vegetable. :p

      So when are you coming to visit us in South Africa? :)

      Delete
  4. No fair. Exotic Japanese food are better displayed on shelves than Malay (or Cape-Malay) ones. Hmph!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, but Cape Town has its very own Cape-Malay quarter. There's no Japanese neighbourhood or even a Chinatown. Think about it that way! ^^

      Delete
  5. Nothing wrong with food posts. They can be very informative. Just don't post, "this is food and you can't eat it :P" posts. :)

    As for the food, looks interesting. Sounds very much like Vancouver. A lot of fake stuff and fusion stuff. I think it is good in the same way Japanese Chinese food is good. It just isn't real. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've hit the nail on the head: "a lot of fake stuff and fusion stuff" that's not quite real.

      Does this mean I can do another post about South African-South African food? Braaivleis (barbecued meat) and red wine and cheap fruit! :D

      Delete
    2. Yes, you can talk about Braaivleis, red wine, and cheap fruit. For the Braaivleis, I expect a bit of info on what happens during the events. Kinda like a nijikai or something. All craziness ensues. As for red wine, I'm sure there is a history lesson there and the cheap fruit, well, geography? ;)

      Delete
    3. Braaivleis (barbecued meat) is the food; vleisbraai (meat barbecue) is the event. :p

      What happens during a braai? Oh, well, you get up at dawn and sharpen your assegai while chanting war songs. Then you stealth-crawl into the bush, kill a lion, rip out his heart and eat it raw. If you're a man, you should eat his testicles, too. Raw. (Women can skip this bit, but most don't.) After that, you kill an eland. You're allowed to barbecue its meat on a big doringboom fire in a boma.

      Wakaru?

      Delete
    4. Yay. Are you going to do a field trip in Japan for us to take part in the vleisbraai? Maybe we can substitute the lion for the fabled strong armed obaachan. ^^

      Delete
    5. Obaachan meat would be too tough to barbecue!!! No, I think SHE should do the hunting and killing, and WE just do the eating. Howzat? :p

      Delete
    6. You're right. I don't mind eating obaachan's kill.

      Delete
    7. We'll definitely gain weight. That's a lethal killer. Those elbows are weapons of mass destruction ...

      Delete
  6. I love food posts as I'm sure you're aware of. Love the "Use Your Noodle" ad. There is a Kumon on the 2nd floor of my apartment complex (I live on the 4th) and am looking forward to going to some Asian eateries back home in Seattle next year. There seems to be a burger place called "Katsu Burger" and a Japanese yakitori restaurant called "4649" (yo ro shi ku). Then again, Seattle has a very large Asian population.

    If it wasn't for my food post about that African place in Hamamatsucho, we would still be strangers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true! It was a food post that finally persuaded your longtime lurker to comment! :D

      Cape Town's population is about 48% coloured, 30% black, 20% white, 1.5% Asian (the latter includes Indian).

      * Please don't read "coloured" with American eyes. It's an official ethnic classification in South Africa that refers to a group with a diverse heritage.

      Delete
  7. Oh yes, and I've tried almost all the Japan gentei flavors of Kit-Kats including wasabi which wasn't so bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't tried wasabi KitKat yet. My favourite flavours ever were blueberry cheesecake and kinako; but melon? Potato? Fruit and vegetable juice? Yikes! (@_@)

      Delete
    2. Love green tea Kitkat flavour ^^

      Delete
    3. So do I, though I still prefer green tea in fluid form. :)

      Delete
    4. Or ice cream. Green tea ice cream is delicious. Have you tried that? ^^

      Delete
  8. We have the same Kumon logo here but I didn't know it was from Japan.

    I think all the international food has invaded all continents on this planet, one way another. The Korean and African food is catching up here as we never had their restaurants here over 20 years ago but the Japanese restaurants were here very long ago since they invaded us! LOL

    Each time I read your blogs, I felt like a magnet pulling me to visit Japan!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, Kumon is from Japan. All good things come from Japan. ;)

      You've got African food in Malaysia? (@_@) Please do a post about that, some time or another? Pretty please?

      You should definitely visit Japan again. Soon. I'll do my best to make that gravitational pull even fiercer, until you fall over and into the event horizon! ^^

      Delete
  9. I didn't know Lindt does wasabi choc... don't think I've seen it before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The flavours in that photo startled me. Sea salt? (@_@) I guess the attraction is the contrast between the sweetness of the chocolate and the spiciness/saltiness of the other ingredient, but ... eish!

      Delete
  10. You have Woolies in South Africa, too? Wow! No wonder Aussies feel at home there. In Australia, you can get sushi everywhere these days including supermarkets and fast food places.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have it in Australia?! I didn't know that! Well, then ... no wonder South Africans feel at home in Australia! :D

      You get sushi in the outback? I think I'd prefer a mutton chop in the desert. ;)

      Delete
    2. Barbecued mutton chop, of course. :D

      Delete
  11. Hi! I went to this Fujiyama Restraunt when I was in South Africa as a member of a group tour.
    The owner explained many things. I only remember that he told us as followes.
    Japanese tea is more expensive than black tea. usually if you would order a cup of Japanese tea, you would need pay some money, but if you would come as a member of group tour,they would serve Japanese tea free of charge.
    I could not rember the dishes are delicious or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You went to the red restaurant?

      They make customers pay for green tea? You often (usually?) get free tea with your meal in Japan! See? Japan is better. :D

      Delete
  12. There are certain foods which become international, aren't there. Curry is another. Who would ever have guessed that currywurst would have become so popular in Germany?! And sushi-like food does appeal to a lot of people who have no idea whether it is authentically Japanese or not. In fact, I'd wager some of them don't even realise it is supposed to be Japanese. It has quite simply moved onto the international dinner table!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Some of them don't even realise it is supposed to be Japanese." That made me laugh. I fear you're right!

      Then again, don't ask me to identify food from Central Europe and the countries surrounding Russia. I have no idea what they eat.

      Did you know that curry&rice is very popular in Japan? It's apparently based on recipes that were popular in the British Navy, which originally introduced it to Japan! So it's not hot Indian curry, but a milder, sweeter, absolutely delicious dish.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_curry

      Delete
  13. South Africa seems to be so beautiful Ru! There is this conference I want to attend next year there, hope I can really see your homeland firsthand! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so, too! Will the conference be in Johannesburg or Cape Town? I'll keep my fingers crossed that it's CT!

      Delete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...