Tjing Tjing Torii, a gem tucked away off Longmarket Street in the CBD, offers a taste of Tokyo. With the opportunity to experience a little bit of exotic Japan in the middle of our local little Cape Town, how could I possibly say no?
Tjing Tjing house, with its four venues, is situated in a historic, 200 year old building, and it was here that myself and my two colleagues, Elené and Tessa, glimpsed a completely new culture.
Although we didn’t venture up the stairs to the Tjing Tjing Bar, we were not disappointed in the least by the more casual space that greeted us. With characteristic Japanese illustrations that decorate the walls, and a very simplistic and clean layout, Tjing Tjing Torii offers a distinct menu based on the yokocho, or street food alleys.
I basically could not contain my excitement, much to the amusement of my colleagues.
With everything on the menu so out of the ordinary (trust me, you’re not going to find a burger or pizza anywhere in sight), it took us a while to actually decide on what to eat. And drink, at that.
Deciding to try something different, myself and my two colleagues opted for bento and sando boxes, which I had been dying to try since my boyfriend first introduced me to the world of Animé. Not sure what either of those meals are? Think of them as very elaborate and beautifully fashioned bamboo lunch boxes accompanied by sides of fresh edamame pods and kimchi (pickled or fermented vegetable dish).
With Tessa choosing the Pork Katsu Bento Box, and Elené ordering the Chicken Yakitori Bento Box, that left me to eagerly order the Miso broccoli sando box.
Here is Tessa’s take on her pork katsu bento box:
My knowledge of Japanese food begins and ends with sushi (unacceptable right), so I had no idea what to expect. I opted for the Pork Katsu Bento Box and roasted rice tea. Both are perfect for someone who wants to eat a bit healthier but still wants to enjoy the Japanese cuisine.
With the bento box, I loved the deconstructed, colourful look of it, with the crumbed pork strips, fresh edamame, creamy potato salad and bright kraut chi. I love anything crumbed, so the pork strips hit all the right spots. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the sauce that came with it, the food was tasty enough for me to not need it. The rice tea tasted very similar to green tea, but with a bit of a nutty taste. So if you love green tea and want to mix it up with a bit of an extra flavour, I would recommend it. I would definitely go back to try some of the other menu items, so thanks Tjing Tjing for starting off my journey with Japanese food.
And Elené on her Chicken Yakitori Bento Box:
The Chicken Yakitori Bento Box is a delicious mix of edamame beans, fresh salad, chicken skewers and a potato salad. Paired with ginger and wasabi, as well as o-nigiri, this little Japanese version of a lunch box is the stuff of dreams. Mixing the potato salad with ginger and a bite of the savoury chicken, yummy! It is also the perfect lunch as it is not too heavy; you can still head to the office afterwards without needing a snooze.
As for my own Miso Broccoli Sando Box:
It comprised of a sort of sushi sandwich, which is basically the best way that I can explain it, with sushi rice and nori making up the “slices” that perfectly contained the miso broccoli, carrot, kraut chi and kewpie. Although a little sticky and messy, I can’t remember the last time I so enjoyed eating something new. It really is like eating sushi sandwich!
As for drinks, I decided to join Tessa in trying the roasted rice teas that came in their own ornate teapots. Although a taste to get used to, I really enjoyed the herbal and fragrant flavour, which can be described as a somewhat malty green tea.
The downstairs space operates on a first-come-first-served basis, does not accept bookings, and is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10h00 to late. For a more formal and traditional Japanese foodie experience, it is suggested that you check out Tjing Tjing Momiji, or the Tjing Tjing Lounge for a taste of the Japanese-themed cocktails in a moodier setting.
To check out the full menu, and to learn more about the Tjing Tjing Torii and the rest of the venues that they offer, visit tjingtjing.co.za
To Elené, as the main inspiration behind our day’s outing, Arigato Gozaimasu!