The arrival of Doppio Zero in Joburg’s Rosebank last year was a breath of fresh air for the immediate area around the popular mall and “The Zone”. Over the years the shopping district’s restaurant offerings had gotten absolutely stale, and even the once-trendy Primi Piatti has became simply boring; they’re still flogging the same tired “specials” they did on opening day.
Doppio Zero, across the road from the mall, was, finally, a refreshing new easy-eating spot to meet friends and socialise. Of course the queens took to the place like fish to water.
Then, a couple of months ago, Fsh unexpectedly sprung up right next door. While Doppio leans towards Italian-based comfort food, which is also evident in the stylish yet muted dÃ©cor, Fsh is all sleek and bright; Japanese black, white and red, complete with a sushi conveyor belt. Judging by the easy flow along the deck from Doppio to its new neighbour, I suspected that they might share owners, and this was confirmed by the manager.
It’s a relatively large restaurant, with a number of seating options – tables on the deck (great for summer), more formal tables inside, comfy booths, and of course stools at the sushi counter. While the colour palette is nothing new among Asian influenced restaurants, Fsh sells itself as a trendy spot with its patterned red cushions and striking lamps. I suspected that a chain might be in the offing, along the lines of Doppio, and I was told that if the concept works here you may see a few Fsh’s appearing in a trendy centre near you.
The varied and large menu lists not only sushi, but also a range of cooked seafood offerings, as well as salads and even red meat. This is all well and good but my motto has always been to stick to a restaurant’s key menu items. Ordering seafood from a steakhouse, or curry from a sushi restaurant, is never a good idea.
And so my party – two gay boys and a charming lesbian – focused on what we expected Fsh to do best – sushi. In fact, I was informed by the manager rather proudly that “our mission is to ‘sushify’ Africa…”
But, before we got to the raw fish, we decided to experiment with the starters; the most inventive chapter of the menu. The Sosumi Duck, four parcels of duck, noodles, mango and hoisin sauce, was a delight. The Crab Cakes with Flavoured Mayonnaise (R39) were especially notable for the fact that I could actually taste and see the crab flesh.
A round of oysters however proved the highlight: large, plump and immaculately fresh – absolutely worth the R12 a pop price tag. All the entrÃ©es came in healthy portions and were very enjoyable. The presentation was top-notch, an element which makes Fsh stand out from some of its ilk.
While we boys opted for plonk through the meal, the lady decided on a cosmopolitan. Although she declared that it was quite delicious, she was disappointed that it didn’t come with a cherry. This was soon remedied upon request by our eager waiter. They didn’t have glazed cherries in stock, but some were promptly procured without any fuss and the lady was happy. A rather cute and possibly even flirtatious matre’de made sure that our drinks were regularly topped up, something that proved to ultimately be our undoing.
During a previous visit I tried Fsh’s well composed martinis and, based on these two experiences, I’ll again try their cocktail range. Summer afternoons on the deck sipping cocktails and slurping oysters is something I’m quite looking forward to.
When it comes to sushi, there are four very simple but vital elements to consider: the freshest fish, carefully prepared rice, good quality condiments and striking presentation. In the first three areas our sushi platters did not disappoint with their variations of maki, nigiri and sashimi, but there was little new when it came to presentation: we’ve seen it all before. Then again, some might argue that simplicity is best when it comes to sushi.
There could have been more interesting varieties of fish on offer: popular favourites – salmon, tuna and prawn – abound. Nevertheless all were satisfying, and of high quality. The manager confirmed that fish is flown in daily.
A sense of adventure in presentation returned with the deserts, although I have to admit that my critical senses were becoming rather dulled at this point thanks to that over-eager service.
The Coffee Hazelnut Torte (R34) was a disappointment – sickly sweet and positively glue-like. It looked great though! The Blueberry Cheese Cake (R35) was very pleasant, but the true diva of the trio was the Self Saucing Chocolate Sponge with a Rich Belgium Chocolate Centre (R36). Every spoonful was met with squeals of delight as it was shared around the table and promptly devoured.
If Fsh can maintain the standards of its service and solid quality food beyond its opening months, it’ll soon become a popular and unpretentious lunch and dinner option in Rosebank. Although I expect a flood of new restaurants in the wake of the Gautrain construction and redevelopment of the area, Fsh now has the opportunity to stake its claim as a regular and reliable sushi haunt.
Fsh is located at the corner of Cradock and Baker streets, Rosebank, Johannesburg. Telephone 011 447 9188. It offers a number of lunch time specials during the week. On Tuesdays there’s 50% off sushi plates from the conveyor belt.