After my recent post on the SASSI Trailblazer awards for 2020 – and cooking Christina Semczyszyn’s beautiful smoked snoek dip we were SO excited to be invited to dine at Tjing Tjing Momiji. We have visited before and we were truly blown away by the food. They offer a multi course fine dining kaiseki experience with six courses on the menu with a couple of surprises. Whilst we loved our experience the last time we unfortunately found the menu pricing prohibitive. I can’t recall the price exactly but I remember thinking the experience was worth the price tag but it felt challenging to ask people to spend that kind of money. The updated kaiseki menu is R550 for six courses and whilst still on the pricey end feels like a truly great splurge that I can recommend.
The principles of the kaiseki are “respect for the patron, ingredients and season” and Tjing Tjing Momiji takes this to heart with a laser focus on the very best produce and a constant changing menu based on seasonality.
Let’s get feasting with Tjing Tjing!
First up was a little surprise! Made up of Shiso onigiri which is a little rice ball stuffed with pickled radishes and chives wrapped in a shiso leaf. And karaage cauliflower which is a spin on karaage chicken served with wild garlic and ponzu kewpie mayo. And a little milk bread sando with trout roe emulsion.
These were all tiny flavour bombs with my favourite being the karaage cauliflower which was next level crispy and amazing with the wild garlic ponzu mayo situation which kind of had a rich truffle vibe going for it. I also love the attention to detail where the cauliflower was shaped to look a little like a chicken wing drumette. So clever. So delicious. Bring on a whole plate of this and a giant glass of icy Riesling!
We then moved on to Mukozuke which is their sashimi selection.
We had beautiful salmon served with ponzu dipping sauce and hay seared yellowtail with a chive and ginger paste.
The salmon was amazing and cut perfectly and is definitely some of the best salmon sashimi I have ever had. I especially liked it paired with the ponzu, which is sort of a citrusy soya sauce, as it really lifted the fattier fish. The hay seared yellowtail was super intense and a new flavour experience. I also loved the chive and ginger paste which packed a real punch and was so delicious.
We then had the Suimono which was a Spring chicken broth with pea, fennel and a chicken dumpling. This broth was super light and beautiful but was pretty simple and was maybe a little lost on me and had me wanting a touch more salt.
Next, the garden salad terrarium arrived and this was possibly the most beautiful dish of the night. I could not get over the little turnip bunny! Have you ever?
This dish was an assortment of spring veggies and flowers representing their garden for the season. The ‘garden” features fire-roasted broccoli, dashi-braised turnips and celery, roasted white beets (my favourite bite!), pickled white beets and stems (Jono’s favourite), roasted cauliflower and cauliflower crisps, mirin-roasted cucumber, cucumber jellies, courgette, crispy sushi rice and edamame, passionfruit vinaigrettem nasturtium and flowers. This dish is essentially made up of many many delicious and seasonal things that manage to pull together different flavour combinations in every bite.
Breaking out the big guns
“Mottainai” wagyu served with Mullineux 2017 Syrah. This is the most beautiful wagyu which is three different cuts served in different ways. I remember this dish from our last visit to Tjing Tjing and it was the absolute highlight. I mentioned this to the chef who said this version is even better. That felt pretty unbelievable but somehow she was right! The mindblowing part is the rich, slightly sweet, ever so tender wagyu tongue. Not a fan of tongue? Whatever – you know nothing about this dish – it will rock your world.
The dish also included beautiful wagyu fillet and wagyu sirloin served with pickled waterblommetjie, mustard seeds and salt flakes. All in all a fabulous dish! It was served with the Mullineaux Syrah which is a really beautiful wine but unfortunately was served at room temperature on a warm night so was pretty high in alcohol. The pairing and the wine would be a lot better if it was served slightly chilled.
Next up was the miso Cape Bream ochazuke served with Hakutsuru Sake from Japan. Before I even start on the beautiful food – the Hakutsure Sake was incredibly good. We have tried sake quite a few times before and I have always been pretty ambivalent. This sake was wonderful – super light and fragrant with none of that harsh alcohol taste at the end.
The dish was a miso grilled Cape Bream served with a home made dashi over a bed of sticky rice and topped with a hot broth and a selection of pickled broad beans, nettle and fennel bulb. We loved this dish and felt it was a really unique way of serving fish. I understand the rice and fish situation, and even the addition of the pickled green things but the hot broth to soak the rice was new and lovely. However, I do believe it is common in Japan – just not common to me in Cape Town!
The perfect sweet ending with Tjing Tjing Momiji
Dessert was the most perfect cheese tart stuffed with gooseberries and served with a gooseberry sorbet. It was served with Hokusetsu Umeshu which is a traditional plum wine from Japan. This cheese tart was amazing and was more savoury than I expected! But the pops of sweetness from the gooseberries and the tart cold ice cream helped it all balanced out perfectly. I really loved the clever gooseberry tuile which looks like they used the leftover gooseberry seeds, from the sorbet, to make a little crispy crunchy wafer.
And just when you think the experience is over, Tjing Tjing surprise you one more time with the Wagashi! This was a made from scratch Kitto Katsu (Japenese for kitkat) made of dark chocolate, strawberry and rhubarb jam, ginger mousse and rice krispies and a yatsuhashi which is a type of mochi.
The kitkat was hands down amazing and really something so clever and unique to Tjing Tjing Momiji. I loved the combination of the dark chocolate and the sweet strawberry and rhubarb jam. And yes, it really did feel like the fanciest kit kat of my life.
The final surprise was served with a beautiful fragrant tea. We weren’t particularly invested in the tea which was pretty much see through in colour and didn’t look like it was going to bring much to the table. However, I was delighted to be proved very wrong – and the tea pairing was actually my favourite pairing of the night! I don’t know how it worked but somehow the tea balanced the flavours and lifted the richness of a very fancy meal.
The mochi I have had before and I am still not certain about them. They are filled with orange blossom bean paste and wild rosemary caramel but really just tasted like a strange squishy! They are a big deal in Japan and I can understand their place on the menu but they just weren’t my favourite bite of the evening.
A note on the pairing at Tjing Tjing
We tried the pairing with our dinner which is R395 per person. We really enjoyed their wines, sake and plum wine and enjoyed the opportunity to try something new to us! I am not sure all the wines were the perfect choice or necessarily elevated all of the dishes. As far as “do you have to do the pairing” I am not certain on this answer. If you want the full experience and go on a culinary journey with them – then 100% yes. If you’re a little more budget conscious, I don’t think skipping the pairing will take terribly from your experience. So definitely don’t feel like you’re missing out if you order a bottle for the table from their fab wine list!
- Location:165 Longmarket Street, Cape Town City Centre
- Opening times: Dinner from Thursday to Saturday
- Contact details: 021 422 4374 or their website
Disclaimer: We enjoyed our dinner as guests of Tjing Tjing, however all opinions and images are my own.