Ben Wei recently opened at Wembley Square in Gardens, Cape Town, and has since been generating quite a bit of buzz. Driven by curiosity and a craving for sushi, we popped in for dinner a few nights back and were thoroughly charmed by the whole experience.
Ben Wei, which means Original Taste, is the latest venture by chef Jim Dai and entrepreneur Ian McMahon – who is also behind Crew Bar and MCQP. Their menu offers a variety of Asian dishes, including refreshing twists like banting sushi that has been made without rice as well as curries, noodle dishes and salads.
The restaurant instantly attracts with a glowing blue sushi counter, exotic finishes around the venue, and detailed ceramic crockery on the tables. Note the sumo wrestler nestled in the soup spoon on the picture below.
Philip Tyers from Lyon & Tyres designed a bespoke interior, pulling reflections from green and blue acid colours, with Hertex material-clad benches and Imperial design wall coverings. Picking up on the hidden LED lights, Francois Mostert from Robin Sprong Bespoke Wallpaper designed a specific focal centre wall design that brings all the colours and interiors together.
Once settled, we kicked things off with a bottle of La Vierge Original Sin Sauvignon Blanc and a couple of starters. I can highly recommend the Miso soup as well as the Tom Kha Gai, which is mild, slightly sweet and packed with fragrant, fresh flavours.
From here we moved on to some saké and sushi. The restaurant put together a variety sushi platter for us to showcase their selection, which included banting options where they replace the rice with cucumber and pickled white radish, as well as bamboo rolls that offer a refreshing change from nori wrapped sushi. My favourite on the platter, however, was the Wasabi Bomb, a tuna sandwich with wasabi mayo topped with salmon and caviar. It offers a refreshing, generous kick of wasabi that will clear all your sinuses.
Curious to try one of their mains, we also ordered the Spicy Beef, crispy beef that has been wok fried in Jim’s special spicy sauce. The result is deliciously sticky, crunchy pieces of meat in a hot, zingy sauce that is just spicy enough to warm up your palette without overpowering your senses. It is typically served with egg fried rice, but it also goes well with their noodles.
And finally, I had to have a go at their deep fried ice cream where the a cool vanilla scoop is encased in a crispy, fried crust and topped with chocolate sauce. It hits the spot every time.
I think Ben Wei offers a delicious dining experience in a relaxed, trendy environment and their prices are really reasonable too. I look forward to going back to try more of their dishes – and they’re planning to introduce some ramen come winter so that’s definitely going on the list.
The restaurant is open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. Starter prices range from R39 to R68, mains from R65 to R98, and the sushi starts at R50. Head over to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more, or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 461 2966