SUSHI BY 12A: Balance of traditional and contemporary Camps Bay

SUSHI BY 12A: Balance of traditional and contemporary Camps Bay

Seriously jonesing for sushi after a long dry spell, I finally got to break the drought with the brand spanking new offering at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, which launched Sushi By 12A last week. Served daily in the Café Grill restaurant, where you can eat al fresco alongside the rock pool waterfalls facing the flank of Table Mountain with a small glimpse of the outcrops for which the hotel is named, this is going to be one of the hottest – and at the same time, coolest – destinations this summer.

The menu has been created by Thai chef Sarawut Sukkowplang, who came to South Africa in 1993. For the past 25 years he has worked in Johannesburg, Durban, and in Abu Dhabi before heading to Cape Town, where he most recently worked at Nobu Cape Town. His challenge is to create sushi unlike anything else you can get here.

Sukkowplang describes his classic, modern style as “fusion sushi” – a balance of traditional and contemporary. He makes his own dashi with kelp foraged from the Atlantic Ocean right below the hotel. “Every seaweed has its own flavour and character profile that makes it unique, and once dried, it releases nutrients and intensifies in flavour (kombu),” says Sukkowplang. Dashi is the base for many of his sauces and glazes.

“Using produce that is local as well as sustainable is key to our menu choices at The Twelve Apostles,” says executive chef Christo Pretorius, a SASSI ambassador. “All our fish is sustainably sourced and SASSI /ocean-friendly. Our oysters (a twist on the Japanese version) and sea trout come from Saldanha Bay and the cold-caught yellowfin tuna from the Cape Atlantic area. The freshwater trout is sourced from Fizantakraal in the Du Toitskloof Mountains.”

At first glance, the menu appears similar to any other you’ll find in Cape Town, but look a little closer at the descriptions: Norwegian salmon sashimi, for example, is prepared with toasted sesame seeds, chives, sesame oil and dashi ponzu; cured trout sashimi is more than that with miso and gochujang sauce, wrapped around tiny shimeji mushrooms and garnished with spring onions – delicate and delicious.

Among the delectable treats prepared specially for us by chef Sukkowplang were seared beef rolls with teriyaki sauce, spring onions and sesame seeds; and Norwegian salmon rolls with spicy mayonnaise (like Sriracha). Somehow it had been intuited that salmon is my favourite so it featured prominently; it bears special mentioning that the quality of this particular fish is exceptional, and the flavour superb. The yellowfin tuna tartare with wasabi soy to clear the sinuses and topped with a dollop of marinated trout roe was excellent.

With crisp wine (I chose Ashbourne Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay blend), the sound of water features, a perfect spring day, and best friend company, this was a meal to remember.

Sushi By 12A is served daily in the Café Grill restaurant, 12pm till 9pm.

For more information and to make a booking, send an email to restaurants@12apostles.co.za.

Sushi etiquette

  • DO NOT put wasabi directly into your soy sauce – the sushi chef has already placed the proper amount of wasabi for the fish in the nigiri.
  • DO dip your nigiri into soy sauce fish-side down – otherwise, the rice may fall apart.
  • DO enjoy the pickled ginger as a palate cleanser – eat it between different kinds of nigiri. Don’t eat the ginger in the same bite as the nigiri.
  • DON’T rub your chopsticks together – It’s considered an insult, suggesting the quality of the chopsticks is poor. DO ask for a new pair of chopsticks if you see a splinter in the wood.
  • Placing your chopsticks across your bowl during a meal tells the chef (and everyone around you) that you no longer want your dish. If you haven’t finished eating, then this can be rude. It’s also good manners to keep your chopsticks straight instead of having them cross while they’re resting.
  • DON’T douse the sushi in soy sauce. It overpowers the flavor of the fish. Make sure you are just dipping, rather than soaking the fish. Also, people often make the mistake of adding too much wasabi to their soy sauce and it becomes a paste. To avoid this, put a little wasabi directly on the sushi, then dip it in the soy sauce

* DO eat with your fingers. Chopsticks are okay, but you have to be careful with how you use them. You’re not going to appreciate the temperature or the texture if you don’t use your hands.

OPTIONAL SIDE BAR

Bouchard Finlayson’s award-winning wines will headline The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa’s final food and wine dinner for 2018, on November 30.

With executive chef Christo Pretorius and sommelier Gregory Mutambe in perfect step with Bouchard Finlayson winemaker Chris Albrecht, current vintages will be partnered and presented with an exquisite three-course menu in Azure, the property’s fine-dining restaurant with magnificent views over the Atlantic Ocean below.

The multi award-winning wine estate lies on 125 hectares of prime viticultural land in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Walker Bay (Hermanus) under the leadership of founder Peter Finlayson and winemaker Chris Albrecht. Owned by the Tollman family, the Bouchard Finlayson Vineyard and Winery is a small cellar dedicated to the quality production of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, all of which will be showcased during the evening.

For starters, garden pea pannacotta is partnered with the estate’s crisp, tropical-toned Sauvignon Blanc 2018. The mains feature a choice of locally sourced yellowfin tuna teamed with Bouchard Finlayson’s crisply clean unwooded Sans Barrique Chardonnay 2017; free-range guinea fowl with the estate’s lauded Missionvale Chardonnay 2016; or a grilled beef rump cap, teamed with the delicately rich Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2016. This particular vintage received global acclaim earlier this year when the International Wine Challenge (IWC) not only awarded the wine a gold medal, but also trophies as the Best South African Pinot Noir and Best South African Red Wine.

Dessert is a decadent dark chocolate pate a choux paired with Bouchard Finlayson’s Hannibal 2016. This unique and intriguing blend of Italian varietals – Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo,S hiraz, Mourvédre and Barbera, combine to achieve a harmonious orchestra of flavours, resulting in a lingering finish and complex mouthfeel as the climax to the lavish dinner.

The cost of R595 per person includes food, wine, water and gratuity.

For more information and to book, call restaurant reservations on 021 437 9029; or send an email to restaurants@12apostles.co.za.

MOTHER CITY FINE DINING

By Bianca Coleman