IZA­KAYA MAT­SURI

Food & Home - - Cape Town Dining -

Tucked away down an al­ley in Green Point, Iza­kaya Mat­suri is a lit­tle Ja­panese restau­rant that’s fast be­com­ing known for its au­then­tic cui­sine. Ev­ery nook, cranny and corner is filled with the ebul­lient per­son­al­ity of its chef-pa­tron, Arata Koga: from colour­ful art­work col­lected over the years to pa­per lanterns in dif­fer­ent hues and lit­tle café tables made com­fort­able with pat­terned cush­ions.

Tra­di­tion­ally, an iza­kaya is a place to go af­ter work for food and drinks, but don’t let this Cape Town ver­sion’s ca­sual de­meanour fool you. Arata is a chef of note, hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked at Tank in Cape Town and Genki in Stel­len­bosch, be­fore strik­ing out on his own to of­fer fresh, in­ven­tive sushi and ta­pas-style Ja­panese dishes. As for dessert, he keeps it sim­ple with of­fer­ings that in­clude ice cream, wasabi, black sesame and green tea.

Nev­er­the­less – for the ex­er­cise of pair­ing a dessert with sake – Arata cre­ated a whim­si­cal sweet sushi dish com­pris­ing four balls of sushi rice topped with dif­fer­ent flavour­ings, which were all cho­sen to go with a dry Kikusakari sake: sour dried plums to off­set the fruity flavours of the wine, slices of straw­berry and mango to en­hance it and, lastly, matcha to show how well sake can pair with other umami flavours. “The best way to serve sake is at room tem­per­a­ture, as op­posed to straight from the fridge,” Arata ex­plains. “On the other hand, over­heat­ing sake can kill its flavour,” he adds.

When com­par­ing it to tra­di­tional grape wine, sake has a lower acid­ity. “But it’s also sim­i­lar in the fact that it has dif­fer­ent flavour pro­files that pair bet­ter with cer­tain foods, just like wine has,” Arata elab­o­rates. Fur­ther­more, sake is a drink that’s high in amino acids. When it comes to serving it, Arata has some ex­tra words to the wise: “Re­mem­ber, it’s a Ja­panese cus­tom to pour for your com­pan­ions be­fore fill­ing up your own cup!” he con­cludes. 6, THE ROCK­WELL, 32 PREST­WICH STREET, GREEN POINT, CAPE TOWN; 021-421-4520; IZAKAYAMATSURI.COM

IZA­KAYA MAT­SURI’S CHEF-PA­TRON, ARATA KOGA

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