Inspired by growing interest in unique culinary experiences and travel, global food trends have shifted towards the informal, with shared plates and a more relaxed attitude to dining out. While Asian cuisine such as food bowls and sushi remain popular, sparkling sake and dim sum bars are some of the latest restaurant specialities to come to Cape Town.
Known for its thriving foodie scene, the Mother City offers some of the most diverse and world-class restaurants enjoyed by both international tourists and local crowds. Adding to the mix is Asian tapas restaurant YU, which has just opened doors in up-and-coming business district The Foreshore, situated between Artscape Theatre, Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) and numerous office hubs.
Headed up by experienced restaurateur and owner Rory Jossel, YU forms part of The Onyx, an apartment-style residential four-star hotel on the corner of Heerengracht and Walter Sisulu Avenue, which opened at the end of 2018.
YU specialises in contemporary Asian fusion and is open six days a week for lunch and dinner, for up to one hundred guests at a time. Menu highlights include Beef Short Rib Bao, Prawn and Butternut Dim Sum, Peking Duck and Soft Shell Crab with Sesame Mayo. Indulge in Sticky Ribs marinated in Soya and Sichaun pepper, Crispy Rice with Beef Wagyu Tartar – or why not try unusual sushi dishes like the Marinated Seared Salmon with burnt spicy mayo and crispy bits. Poke bowls and desserts such as Coconut and Passion Fruit Sago Pudding feature on the menu too.
While the quality food take centre stage, YU also boasts a bar and restaurant lounge, with a DJ booth for added ambience during special events – making it the ideal spot for after work drinks for professionals working in the area, or CBD commuters looking to skip traffic. The experimental can choose from Japanese Craft beers and a selection of Sake, or opt for a cocktail featuring flavours like Yuzu, Soju, coconut and ginger.
With two decades of experience behind him, Rory started out as a waiter in his cousin’s restaurant and has since worked his way to become partner on a number of established Asian contemporary restaurants across South Africa and even Dubai. “The key to any successful restaurant is simple – amazing food, amazing service and a warm, relaxed atmosphere where you can drink with friends,” he says. “Our menu lends itself to a sharing experience, it’s fine dining, but without the stiff three course meal.”
The name of the restaurant, “YU”, alludes to excellence and leisure, and the physical space was designed by Yaniv Chen and Leigh Fink from Master Studio, who took inspiration from early 1950s Yakuza meeting points.
“These spaces were unassuming and the interiors often derelict, but they were warmed up from the dimly lit interiors, rich dark velvets and warm timbers. We wanted to recreate the juxtaposition between imperfection and luxury.”
Look out for interesting textures, Japanese Matchbox art and an eclectic Octopus wall mural.
Rory also runs neighbouring restaurant MRKT, which serves the building’s hotel patrons and offers wholesome breakfast and lunch to walk-ins from the area. Both YU and MRKT form part of The Onyx, which boasts luxury hotel rooms, compact studios and expansive penthouses, complete with rooftop bar, spa and gym.
“When I was approached by the Newmark Hotel Group and Signatura Property Group to partner with them on the F&B offerings, I felt it was important to add two outlets which had a different feel,” says Rory. “MRKT is the breakfast and lunch restaurant specialising in coffee, fresh bakes and a curated retail space, while YU is the contemporary Asian tapas and bar concept.”
Offering ample free parking in the area, great service and positioned in an exciting new part of Cape Town city, YU promises to be an unforgettable food experience for your next date night, professional meet-up or fun evening out.