Eating Out: Smacks of the Sea
Shelley Seid tries the sushi at a place with a 'succulent' name
Sushi is a Jewish dish, goes the old Jackie Mason joke. It was invented when two Jews bought a restaurant with no kitchen. I remembered that on my way to a restaurant you have to love, if only for its name.
Bite Your Tongue (oriental cuisine and sushi bar) is little more than a hole in the wall, squeezed between a Nando's and a failed pizza outlet. It has six tables, complete with plastic tablecloths, and another three on the pavement. A couple of laminated fish charts decorate the walls and the light fittings look like giant Chipniks. If you came across this restaurant in Bangkok you'd take a photo and tell all your friends about it. There is a small sushi counter with the usual conveyer belt, manned by a Vietnamese chef, but I prefer having my food served to me, rather than grabbing it as it glides past.
Bill and I were ready to take our protein raw and we ordered a salmon sashimi platter (eight pieces, R70) and a mixed platter of 16 pieces (R110). Hilda chose prawn-fried rice (R39) and Di settled on prawn and calamari chow mein. After the excellent prawn tempura starter, Bill accosted the waiter. Why, he asked, is the restaurant called Bite Your Tongue? Because, said the waiter without hesitation, the food is so good that you will eat too fast and bite your tongue. I wasn't entirely convinced but our mains had arrived. To my disappointment and Bill's delight, there were prawns (which I don't eat) in abundance, so I held my tongue and ordered more sashimi.
Hilda and Di were served extremely generous portions, which they both described as fresh and tasty.
Our waiter was constantly on hand to refill the water jug and whisk away dirty crockery. "Touch my plate," muttered Hilda, who was taking her time, "and I'll Bite Your Arm."
In keeping with the location, we discussed white rabbit sweets and the wall that fell into Bill and Di's pool, causing their very own tsunami. Still, the name of the place niggled, so I called over the owner's wife, Susan (the owner is a civil engineer from China; his wife's from Durban). I asked why they had chosen the name. For no real reason, she said airily, a friend said it would make people interested. And, she added, it's a "succulent" name. I couldn't agree more. In fine spirits, we ordered fortune cookies. "Allow yourself to trust in others," mine said. Huh. Bite your tongue.
FAST FACTS: Bite your Tongue
- 62B Astra Centre Broadway, Kensington Drive, Durban North
- Telephone: 0315634419
First impressions: It feels like the real thing. Quirky, modest, and very clean.
The bill for two: R309.50, including a bottle of wine.
Service charge: Excluded.
Menu Prices: The Chinese food (sweet and sour, chow mein, fried rice, cha siu, foo yong) ranges from R31 to R43.50. The sushi comes on colour-coded plates (R16 - R36) and platters go for R55 to R140.
Wine List: A small but decent selection. White wine, on average, is around R85 (Spier chenin blanc). Red from R90 for a Nederburg Barrone.
Service: 10/10. Plenty of patter with my platter. Highly efficient yet relaxed and friendly.
Noise level: 8/10. It's small and intimate, so the only distraction is the occasional ambulance hurtling past the front door.
Décor and lighting: The paper light fittings, posters and plastic curtains may very well come from the Chinese equivalent of Game.
Is booking needed? Essential on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which are half-price sushi madness.
Easy parking? You might have a short walk but the area is always busy and very safe.
Child friendly? Nothing specifically for kids, but what little one can resist a plate of noodles?
Did you see manager or chef? Yes, constantly. We watched the wife keep the place ticking and the chef keep the sushi rolling.
Overall rating out of five stars: I'll bite the bullet and say four.