On a random Friday night in Sandton, the upscale suburb of Johannesburg, I got the urge for some sushi while shopping a little in Nelson Mandela Square. Right at the main entrance is ‘The Big Mouth' and it ranks about number 1 or 2 on Tripadvisor for the area. Sounded like an ideal dinner option!
Shops 13-14, Nelson Mandela Square, Cnr Maude & 5th Streets, Johannesburg
First off, it's hard to work out who is in charge and where the host/hostess is situated as the restaurant is open to the front. When I tracked someone down, I chose to sit at the sushi bar so I could see what was going on – there were other solo travellers and some couples at the bar too and the atmosphere was rocking!
Everything is branded and ALL of the staff speak in the same way (effective training?) – please come back, we know you'll love it, here is my preferred sushi choice. I'm always concerned about recommendations… do people find it reassuring?
I decided to go with a local beer – Windhoek Lager – and it was pretty light and refreshing, perfect for a warm South African evening.
I had a BIT of a wait for food (nothing terrible) but the first beer was long dead before there was a whisper of food.
I was encouraged to order more than just a regular California roll so I included two ‘skewer' starters – a chicken with spiced mayo version and a fillet beef with teriyaki. Given the price and the description, I expected these to be much smaller than they were. However, the chicken was pretty dry.
In contrast, the beef was a winner! There's little I like better than the rich umami flavour of beef brushed with teriyaki on the robata grill.
The star attraction really is the sushi. I chose a ‘Rainbow Reloaded' Roll which had salmon and avocado in the centre wrapped in nori and nicely vinegared rice, with salmon and tuna on the outside. It was topped with a spicy sauce and caviar and was on a bed of tempura crumbs. The added crunch was delicious!
That was a lot of food so there was no room for dessert and I was in a mad dash to make it to the shuttle back to the hotel. However, when the bill came, so did some delicious toffee popcorn. How is a guy to say ‘no'?!
The slow and disorganised service really detracts from what is otherwise a solid product. The staff ARE very friendly and care about their product, so this is a matter of tweaks.