On Monday I was hosted for lunch by the Twelve Apostles Hotel, invited to try its new Sushi Menu, which was launched at the beginning of this month. With Chef Sarawut Sukkowplong, previously with Nobu at the One & Only at the helm, I knew that it would be a good experience.Two further aspects made the lunch special. I had just sat down when Ashleigh Fleming came up to me to say hello, and invited me to join her and her partner Dirk at their outside table. The couple lives around the corner from me, and we had been talking about getting together, so it turned out to become an (unplanned) reality. Every Sunday evening I make a coffee stop at the Café Grill, in-between dancing at Constantia Nek and Dizzy’s, and have got to know a number of the staff. They have rarely seen me on their daytime shifts, and in my formal capacity as a writer. The service from Gina Abrahams, Samantha, and the other staff felt even more special as a result.
The lunch became a three hour one, having such a good time with Ashleigh and Dirk. It was wonderfully sunny outside, until a sudden downpour forced me to run downstairs to close the car roof. I was asked for my keys, and a staff member closed it on my behalf, a reflection of how well the hotel staff is trained, and how customer care is paramount at this establishment. GM Michael Nel came to visit our table too, greeting us and checking that all was in order.
On my arrival at the Café Grill I was introduced to Chef Sarawut Sukkowplong, responsible for the new Sushi Menu, having previously worked at Nobu at the One&Only. I saw Executive Chef Christo Pretorius very briefly too, not having seen each for some time. On a counter was a display of all the fresh ingredients the chef uses in his dishes: asparagus, cucumber, farmed prawn, soya and sake marinated yellowfin tuna, fresh yellowfin tuna, cured trout, yellowtail, Norwegian salmon, and seared yellowfin tuna. The Sushi offering will initially be available at the hotel’s Café Grill, but will be rolled out to the Leopard Bar and to the pool area too in future, I was told.
Gina brought me the menu, and it was hard to choose, it consisting of a Sashimi section, as well as a ‘Chef Sarawut’s Signature Rolls’ one. I ordered the Prawn Tempura roll, with farmed Prawn, spicy mayonnaise, asparagus, and toasted sesame seeds (R225 for 8 pieces). I tried the Yellowfin Tuna Tacos (R120 for two) and Norwegian Salmon Tacos (R125 for two), which Ashleigh and Dirk had ordered before my arrival. The Tacos had either salmon or tuna in them, with spicy miso (a little too spicy for me), shredded cabbage and carrot, and was topped with toasted sesame seeds. My Prawn Tempura roll had two end parts with the Prawn tail.
Ashleigh and Dirk had already eaten a Tuna roll, and recommended that I try it. It is made with Yellowfin Tuna, spicy mayo, spring onion, teriyaki sauce, and is topped with toasted sesame seeds (R195 for 8 pieces) . It is a very colourful dish.
Gina told me that the chef had just created a new dish, which is not yet on the menu, and asked me if I would like to try it. It was seared tuna with chili sauce, so mild that I could not taste it, chili not being my favorite at all, and beautifully finished off with dried mushrooms sprinkled over it, and it was my favorite of all the dishes I ate, not just in its taste but also in presentation.
I asked to try the Japanese-style Saldanha oyster dish, which was served with momji (Google describes this as Japanese maple), spring onion and ponzu (R185 for 6). I missed a little oyster fork to eat it with. It was suggested that I eat it as I would a plain oyster. We found the sauce to overpower the oyster, and sadly we did not finish the dish. It was however beautifully presented, the dried radish finishing off the presentation with an unusual touch.
The last dish I tried, again on the recommendation of Dirk and Ashleigh was the Seared Beef Teriyaki, with teriyaki sauce, spring onion, and toasted sesame seeds, (R185 for 8 pieces), it being very good.
Other Sashimi options are a 10-piece Chef’s Sashimi Selection, with yellowfin tuna, Norwegian salmon, cured trout, and yellowfin tuna tataki (R195); marinated yellowfin tuna sashimi, the six pieces made with onion, chili and ponzu salsa, and spring onion (R150); Norwegian salmon sashimi, with six pieces, including chives, toasted seasame seeds, sesame oil, and dashi ponzu (R155); cured trout Sashimi, with miso and gochujang sauce, shimeji mushrooms, and spring onions, the six pieces costing R195; Chef’s Nigiri Selection, with yellowfin tuna, Norwegian salmon, farmed prawns, and cured trout, at R235 for eight pieces; yellowfin tuna tartare with wasabi, soy and marinated trout roe, at R155; and Norwegian salmon tartare at R170.
Other Chef Sarawut’s Signature Rolls offered are yellowfin tuna and daikon, with spring onion, ponzu, and toasted sesame seeds, at R145 for six pieces; Norwegian salmon and daikon, with cucumber, ponzu, and toasted sesame seeds (R155 for six pueces); and deep-fried futomaki, with yellowfin tuna, Norwegian salmon, farmed Prawn, avocado, spring onion, cucumber, and teriyaki, at R185 for six pieces.
I was sent on my way home with a container of marshmallows, fudge, caramel popcorn, and chocolate truffles, the Café staff being aware of my sweet tooth.
It was an entertaining afternoon sharing the table with Ashleigh and Dirk, and one of generous spoiling by the Twelve Apostles Hotel. It is an interesting addition to the Hotel offering, but smart, as only one Camps Bay restaurant serves sushi.
POSTSCRIPT 9/11: Only on fetching a copy of the Sushi menu two days later, did I see an additional page of the menu dedicated to Sake. It is described as an alcoholic beverage made from fermented polished rice, with an alcohol content of 15%. Five Sake brands are offered, in a price range of R65 to R105, for 50ml.
Twelve Apostles Hotel Café, Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town. Tel (021) 437-9000. www.12apostleshotel.com Twitter: @12_Apostles Instagram: @12apostleshotel
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein