Here’s a fact: you can’t call yourself a foodie without experiencing the magic of Japanese cuisine.
But here’s another fact: booking your dream culinary tour of Japan is expensive, a lot of work, and takes time.
Luckily, if you’re in Cape Town you don’t need to go through all of that to have your tastebuds tickled in a uniquely Japanese setting, because Tjing Tjing has got your back.
Tjing Tjing is a bite-sized mash-up of old and modern Tokyo in the heart of Cape Town. You’re transported as soon as you step in through the doors of the 200 year old heritage building and into the glow of the fluorescent lights.
The restaurant comprises of not one but FOUR unique experiences, demonstrating the magic and versatility of Japanese food (and also the versatilely of the owner and the chefs).
The restaurant on the ground floor, Tjing Tjing Torii, is compact and casual, and offers culinary delights that range from traditional Japanese street food (great for a light lunch), to more substantial meals like Ramen (Perfect for a hearty dinner). There are also typically Japanese offerings of mochi, taiyaki and souffle pancakes for those with a sweet tooth. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, clearly you need to pay this place a visit to get educated.
One aspect that elevates their dishes to the realm of the marvellous is the fact that many of their Japanese menu items have a creative and uniquely South African twist. Milk tart mochi?? Only in SA, my friends.
While the ground floor is a great place to hang out from brunch time till dinner, if you’re looking to add some more flavour to your evening, or to go for a fabulous post-work cocktail, venture upstairs to the Tjing Tjing rooftop bar.
*Tjing Tjing Rooftop bar images from eatout.co.za
The cocktail menu is potentially TOO extensive, and everything on it looks great, which can make it hard to decide on just one. Their unique flavour combinations and quirky Japan-inspired names make this the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to break out of the routine of ordering the same classic cocktail every weekend.
Not only that, but the Tjing Tjing Rooftop bar was voted one of the best new bars by Conde Naste Traveler in 2012. With its eclectic menu, it’s stunning themed decor, and it’s mix of cosy indoor and open-air seating, it’s easy to see why. A cocktail will set you back about R65 to R100, but if you’re looking to treat yourself this is a great place to do it. Snacks and street food can also be purchased upstairs.
Keep in mind that these spots are small and intimate, and they do not take bookings. If you can’t get a table down in the restaurant you can pop your name on the waiting list and grab a cocktail (or snacks if you’re really hungry) upstairs until they call you.
In between these two spaces is Tjing Tjing Momiji and the Momiji lounge, which offers a more formal and sophisticated Japanese dining experience. The Momiji kaiseki menu celebrates local and seasonal ingredients, and the menu is subject to change (which makes it all that much more exciting!) Unlike the restaurant on the ground floor and the bar on the roof, the exquisite Momiji doesn’t take walk-ins, and you’ll have to plan this one in advance and make a reservation. This experience is highly recommended if you’re looking to impress a date.
Momiji images from capetownmagazine.com
Tjing Tjing is truly a gem, with a massive range of exciting treats on offer. if you haven’t already been its high time you put your foodie hat on and get over there. My personal favourite is the miso eggplant, but don’t forget to try out the crispy rice balls and the okonomiyaki fries! Also remember to say “itadakimasu” before you dig in to make your experience even more like a real holiday to Japan!
Essential Millennial Rating: 4.5 out of 5 avocados.