There are many reasons to celebrate the arrival of summer and the way in which to do so is an entirely personal matter.
But those in the know will head up the Helshoogte pass, take a seat at Tokara Restaurant and eagerly wait for the summer dishes created by highly regarded chef Richard Carstens to arrive. The new menu pays tribute to the subtle pure flavours and colours of summer. Diners will find, as expected, perfectly executed dishes, fresh seasonal ingredients, beautiful plating and intricate yet familiar flavours. And always they will delight in the element of playful surprise that is the trademark of this remarkable chef.
Richard Carstens has always been a chef who pushed boundaries, most would acknowledge that he is a chef ahead of his time that and he has paved the way for many others who have followed his example when it come to exploring the likes of Molecular Gastronomy and the Avant Garde. Currently his menu is a wonderful combination of exciting Modernist culinary techniques and the familiar tastes of locally sourced seasonal ingredients. ‘This menu is my tribute to modern South African cuisine. My aim is that every dish I create using many well-known ingredients, will, while appearing in a excitingly different form and texture, still appear timeless and familiar,’ says Richard. ‘The majority of the dishes have less elements but every element is technique driven. The menu is an evolution of my Modernist style with the ever-present Japanese influence and aesthetic. Diners will find layers of different flavours and textures within the same dish but each layer and flavour will remain clearly identifiable.’
Starters such as Blanched asparagus with almond gazpacho, goat’s milk cheese, confit mushroom, orange, ginger and roasted seeds take the concept of vegetarian food to a completely new level of sophistication while Prawn ravioli with ‘chorizo’ with crisp linefish and saffron sauce will please diners, because of it’s taste and playfulness. Beef tartar and sashimi with katsuoboshi sorbet, daikon and tomato and red pepper sauce showcases the happy marriage between local and Japanese flavours and aesthetics.
Mains are substantial offering robust flavours without ever being too heavy for the heat of summer. Red roast free range chicken with udon noodles, spinach and crayfish cream and Korean marinated beef fillet with kimchi, broccoli, pomme anna and tom yum jus offer exciting tastes while the Springbok with potato croquettes, roasted beetroot, strawberries and pepper jus will please meat lovers looking for the familiar.
Deserts may well cause diners some stress in that it is almost impossible to choose one single dish. For how can you choose between Vanilla panna cotta with fruit sorbets, meringue and mint or the light whiteness of a Lemon and marscarpone mousse with white chocolate sorbet? A Litchi parfait and granite with coconut sorbet, ginger mousse, fennel ice cream and strawberries offers unexpected, unimaginable tasting pleasures while the understatedly name Chocolate ‘éclair’ will surpass anything that chocolate lovers are used to tasting.
Earlier this month Tokara won, once again, the title of ‘Best Restaurant in SA’ as awarded by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network. It is a well-deserved victory for to eat at Tokara and to experience the continually changing and always evolving dishes created by chef Richard Carstens is a celebration of the senses. The artistic mastery of the plating, the surprising, but always pleasing taste experience, the atmosphere of understated, welcoming elegance and superb wine list make this restaurant and chef a worthy contender.
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