Cape Town One&Only Hotel – Food for Thought

New Cape Town Hotel restaurant Nobu has IPL stars cheering!

If you’ve been in Cape Town in the last fortnight or so, you’ll have discovered that the city has been invaded, and two out of every three people you bumped into were speaking Hindi. The Indian Premier League, garish soap opera masquerading as cricket, has stormed South Africa, with the Cape as primary target. Which has made Sol Kerzner an extremely happy man.

The hotel king threw open the doors to his One&Only at the Waterfront just in time to welcome the moneyed aristocracy of Indian cricket, and the place has been booked solid since then, with resident in chief being Shahrouk Khan, the Bollywood superstar owner of the Kolkatta Knight Riders, proving David Hasselhof’s influence is alive and well.

Opening a luxury hotel in the midst of a global recession might not appear to be great business, but with the IPL in town, the One&Only‘s off to a roaring start.

How much of an impact the rest of the city is having, though, is up for debate; I bumped into a group of fans in the lobby after dinner, just back from watching their team going down to Shane Warne’s Rajasthan Royals, who professed to having had limited enjoyment in Cape Town. Why? They hadn’t left the confines of the Waterfront other than to attend the cricket, because Cape Town was (they’d heard) simply too dangerous a city to go out in. And this from guys over from Mumbai, still recovering from a very high-profile terrorist attack.

Sell my sister for a dinner

Thing is, though, I wouldn’t leave the One&Only either; just for rather different reasons. For despite being painfully expensive — I’m negotiating the sale of my 20-year-old blonde sister to a wealthy Arab sheikh to fund my next meal there — the food at Nobu is spectacular.

And were I vested of the sort of money that allows one to fly over from India and stay at the One&Only for a couple of weeks of cricket voyeurism, I’d cheerfully eat three meals a day at Nobu.

It’s easier to get through customs in New York with an Iraqi passport than it is getting into London’s Nobu, one of 18 across the world; Cape Town’s a little easier, but it still took a week to get a table, for a packed Thursday night, with a crowd that included a French champagne-drinking Tony Yengeni.

The bar upstairs stars a selection of sake-based cocktails, a gentle warm-up to the gastronomic explosion waiting to go off below you.

Communist style of eating

Nobu subscribes to the communist style of eating, plates landing in the middle of the table, and prompting a polite scramble for whatever’s just arrived. You can order a set menu, a seven course feast that comes as a mystery, each course revealed only as the chef sends it out.

Alternatively, you can have a crack at the a la carte, which is what we did, and did with great gusto (and a wilful avoidance of looking at prices).

And so, with cocktails down and wine ordered — an elegant Quoin Rock Sauvignon Blanc — we ate. And ate, and ate, and ate…

Yellowtail sashimi, a welcome change from the ubiquitous salmon and tuna that has invaded every second restaurant in Cape Town, dressed up with a piquant jalapeno that didn’t kill off the fish.

Octopus carpaccio, firm and wonderful in a jalapeno sauce (the South American influence that offsets Nobu’s Asian roots).

New style sushi?

New style sushi — Nobu’s term rather than mine — salmon sashimi gently seared in sesame oil adding a new dimension of subtle flavour. Soft-shell crab tempura, light, wispy batter floating around delicate mouthfuls of crustacean.

Then there’s a rich, cardiac arrest-inducing pork, just enough fat left on the meat to complete a dish Marie Antionette would deem a little excessive.

A kelp salad, at the other end of the indulgence spectrum, offers three briny, vinegary piles of aquatic greens, very much an acquired taste, but a strangely refreshing intruder to the palate.

And even a simple chicken dish managed to excite, an understated dish that played welcomely off the third or fourth pitcher of sake (one tends to lose count). Multiple courses of blindingly good food, all steeped in originality and innovation.

Yes, Nobu’s expensive, but it’s worth every South American-influenced Japanese cent — the food explodes on the palate, reducing you to a beaming narcotic stupor, and makes you realise just why everyone makes such a fuss of the place internationally.

Sell my little sister, sacrifice a kidney, marry Tony Yengeni — whatever it takes, I’ll be back at Nobu just as soon as my constitution’s settled from my maiden visit.

Review unannounced and paid for in full. Multiple courses for four people, three bottles of wine and enough sake for a rather tender constitution the following day, R3100.

source: iafrica

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About The Author: Rox

Cape Town based copywriter, blogger, baker of cookies, seeker of calm and maker of things.
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