Trance music plays softly in the background, ambient rather than insistent. A waitress in a crisp, white shirt serves me a Johnny Walker, honey, and orange marmalade cocktail. Outside lights play on the water and the trees, as the sky turns dark. It’s surprisingly laid back, given I’m in the heart of the Sandton CBD.
The sushi at the launch of the Umai (meaning “delicious” in Japanese) sushi bar at the revamped Lacuna bar at the Maslow hotel, is some of the best I’ve ever eaten. The fish is delectable. Tender white fish sashimi (which I rarely eat), an incredible spicy tuna and salmon sashimi combo served on a silver spoon, a mixed ceviche with a fresh acidic dressing, and salmon roses that feel as if they could melt in your mouth. The California rolls are impeccable: only a thin layer on rice on the outside, the avocado perfectly ripe and creamy.
The bar has a wonderful vibe and the new sushi chef, Eric Manyenkawu, is masterful. And, it’s no wonder. Manyenkawu trained at the world-class Cape-Town based, Nobu restaurants. Hailing from the Eastern Cape, the 34-year old, aims to teach South Africans about Japenese quality sushi.
Umai is well worth a try, whether for an after work cocktail and some maki as snacks, or as a full dinner.
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