A delicious menu and well-priced winter special will keep regulars happy while a line-up of exciting culinary evenings is set to become a must for serious food aficionados.
Chef Richard Carstens' winter menu embodies his well-honed technical skill, modern approach and personal sense of generosity. His experimentational playfulness is always evident too. “I play with tastes like umami and acidity, salt and sweet to complement each other. And texture always plays an important role,” he says.
The dishes take inspiration from local produce (making the most of seasonal root vegetables), a refined Japanese aesthetic and home-grown comfort favourites.
Diners can expect starters like smoked snoek ravioli – a basis of traditional Cape “smoorsnoek” brings back wonderful childhood memories, yet the addition of almond crème and pumpkin velouté elevates it to a modern new level. The togarashi-spiced beef sashimi and tartar served with sushi rice, wasabi mayo and scattered with black sesame seeds, not only embodies Richard’s elegant visual aesthetic, but is also a supremely satisfying dish.
Main course dishes like the peppered springbok served with beetroot or the miso-marinated beef fillet with Japanese mushrooms are both a feast for the eye, as well as deliciously satisfying. The sunflower seed “risotto” will have any vegetarian swooning with flavours of soya and honey-glazed aubergine, coconut, lemon grass and ginger. Umami flavours abound in the Mediterranean-inspired dish of chicken with tomato, garlic and parmesan velouté served with gnocchi, capers and olives.
Desserts are not neglected, with the chocolate chibouste sure to satisfy chocoholics while the impeccable, pure white dish of lemon, mascarpone mousse, white chocolate sorbet and meringue wins top prize as the sexiest dish this winter. The “Fallen Apple” dessert is comfort on a plate, with a softly-textured whole apple, cooked until it’s almost fallen in on itself, served with crunchy, cinnamon streusel, evoking the comfort of traditional apple pie.
Tokara Restaurant will also be offering a four-course winter set menu, which includes a glass of wine, priced at R250 a head.
Until October, a series of themed evenings will take diners on a culinary journey: New British Wave in July featuring Roux, Koffman, Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc followed by the New World chefs in August: Keller, Nobu, Trotter, Perry and Wakuda will be in the limelight.
For September the theme is Modernist, featuring Adria, Bras, Gagnaire and Atala, while October sees a Sommelier “shoot-out”, where three leading sommeliers will compete to make the perfect wine pairing for a menu prepared by Richard. Evenings are priced at R400 per person for five-courses.
Tokara Restaurant is situated at the top of the Helshoogte Pass, R310, Stellenbosch. For reservations call 021 885 2550;
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