When Bernard and I set up this blog in 2015 (was it really that long ago?!) we vowed to give it our all and never be one of those blogs that dry up, publish a tepid feature once every six months and begin each new post with, ‘I’m sorry we haven’t posted in so long, but…’.
It’s happened. We are one of those blogs.
As with every season in life, there’re times when inspiration flows, time is kinder and one has the energy to focus on the wonderfully uncomplicated. Those seasons are few and far between, but it’s in those headspaces that beautiful, creative outlets form. In our case, that outlet was, is, and always will be City by Mouth. Life and professional commitments might limit us from publishing as much as we would like, but the words ‘sorry but’ will never appear on here again. Our wonderfully fun and uncomplicated corner of the internet continues…
To set 2017’s resolute new season into motion, we visited De Waterkant’s ultra mode SHIO. New to Cape Town’s already overflowing stock, SHIO offers a simple menu, small plate dining with BIG flavours, in a chic and thoughtfully-considered dining space. Similar to its small portion fare – communal dining and shared dishes are the order of the day – the space is equally small and understated. Fall in love with the obvious Japanese minimalism and elegant fittings. Undoubtedly though, SHIO’s appearance has become best known for two things: its lurid pink signage that reads Drink Sake Stay Soba, and its iconic mural.
The menu features food from Umi (ocean), Tochi (land) and Chikyu (earth), not to mention an excellent cocktail menu, where interesting and obvious Asian flavours pair well with each dish. The more plates you order, the more flavour bursts you can experience – so don’t go with an empty wallet and order loads. Bernard and I shared the edamame beans smoked in bonito salt and yuzu butter (65) – a regret, as these days you can get edamame beans at most sushi and Asian places, and these were flavourless in comparison to the other dishes. Instead, be blown away by the Beef Short Rib Gyoza, with fuji apple, tamarind, lime and chili (R85), Beef Tataki in cardamom and ginger caramel with coconut gel (R85), and the Yellowtail Sashimi with green mango pickle and yuzu grape gel (R85). The dishes we shared were outstanding, but other desirous plates include the likes of Pan Fried Scallops, Nori Tuna Taco, Crispy Duck, Duck Fat Fries, Pak Choi Tempura and Forbidden Risotto.
What is now my favourite and most delicious Cape Town Bloody Mary (I’m drinking Bloody Marys like I’ve only just discovered tomato juice – which is true, I have, and it is phenomenal) is the Dirty Ninja, a mix of vintage black vodka, spiced tomato juice, lemon juice, sriracha, soy and wasabi, garnished with a celery stem (R65). Bernard’s sweet tooth ordered the Tokyo Tina, a mix of Sailor Jerry Rum, Nashi pear puree, ground cinnamon, sugar syrup, shaken over ice and served martini style with cinnamon stick charcoal (R65). Note all cocktails can be made virgin style, and include other variations like the Jasmine Geisha, Passionate Buddha and Saigon Smash. I’ll leave their mixologies to you when you visit for yourself.
We passed up the dessert menu, but the short and sweet selection includes a double thick peanut butter milkshake using miso butterscotch and chocolate soil; Tonka Bean Dark Chocolate with coffee gel, miso butterscotch and black sesame snap; among others, and a Kyoto Coffee to conclude the experience.
An experience at SHIO is excellent. Although they’re new and seem a bit insecure about their offering, they shouldn’t be. The flavours, decor and peaceful De Waterkant setting make for a tranquil lunch or evening meal (and excellent date night). If you like Asian flavours, you will love this. If you don’t like Asian flavours, you will love this too. It is good, tasty, interesting food – and everyone loves that.
Photographs Bernard Myburgh Words Lisa Wallace