Before I begin with the culinary experience at Tang, Sandton. I have a few things to get off my chest about Asian cuisine culture in South Africa. Specifically, the state of sushi in SA.
There is an overwhelming need to add too much mayonnaise, fried and dipped sushis. The simplicity is lost, diluted and inauthentic.
But the foodie scene is changing. Tang restaurant in Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton, is entrepreneur Nicky van der Walt’s new venture. Two years in the making and as a globe trotter, he knew what he wanted for a Japanese, Cantonese eatery back home, taking keynotes from high-end luxury Asian restaurants such as Nobu and Zuma.
“I do think a lot of the Asian spots are diluted and lack the quality. I saw a huge gap, simple cuisine elevated. Casual fine dining, so we are not an intimidating space. I did want to create accessible luxury fine dining,” Van der Walt said.
And the CEO of Miramar did just that, with a cutting edge black style décor, Tang is very welcoming down to the cutlery, the minimalistic richness and cohesiveness throughout.
The attention to detail is immaculate. The food is created by master sushi chefs and all the sauces are home made, with some of the kitchenware and fittings imported from Japan.
These modern classics are going nowhere and Van der Walt says he saw a huge gap in the market for this type of eatery; luxury Japanese cuisine that is done right with “love and care”.
What’s on the menu at Tang?
Given the five star treatment by the owner himself, Van der Walt picked some of his favourites we should try.
It started with the tuna takai onion ponzu sauce which was mind blowing. The tuna was melt in the mouth, it was almost an emotive feeling eating something so good that you hope to experience it again and again. Because it is that good.
My partner in crime commented: “It’s the best thing I have had in a long time!”
The other showstoppers included the scrumptious rock shrimp with spicy and creamy sauce, soft shell crab and short ribs which were succulent and sticky. The pork belly with char siu sauce was exquisite and well prepared. In every meat dish, the star of the show did what it is supposed to do, shine.
The meats were cooked to perfection, the sauces more than complemented the dishes. This was just the starters and the mains didn’t disappoint either. The seafood fried rice, dim sum, a trio of siu mai (scallop, lobster, and caviar), Peking duck and oysters hit the ball out of the park too.
As we were speechless at how speechless we were, we still had time and space for dessert. The giant fortune cookie with a chocolate centre is not too sweet, with coconut ice cream and fruits. We found ourselves finishing that plate too.
As with anything about food and hospitality, the service is important as well. A notable mention to Ebenezer Ncube, who catered to our every need.
Van der Walt agrees the main takeaway is the food, and one of the men behind it is chef Vixa Kalinga. With vast experience, he has worked at the famed Willoughby in Cape Town. Kalinga says he loves French cuisine but Asian cuisine with its “boldness of flavours attracted me the most”.
The partnership with Nicky was clear, taking time to develop the flavours and what they wanted. The result is a sublime outcome.