REVIEW

Perfect pairings: champagne, sushi and oysters at Sandton Sun's San Deck

Enjoy a platter of sushi or 12 live Knysna oysters with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot

23 December 2019 - 18:30 By Zodwa Kumalo
Enjoy a platter of freshly made sushi or 12 live Knysna oysters at Sandton Sun with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label for R1,050.
Enjoy a platter of freshly made sushi or 12 live Knysna oysters at Sandton Sun with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label for R1,050.
Image: Supplied/Sandton Sun

Clutching a plate loaded with wasabi, pockets of soy sauce and eagerly eyeing the slabs of salmon being gently massaged by the sushi chef with a big sharp knife, I ask how long he’s been an itamae. “Three years,” he says, “ ... just making rice.” Or did he say four? I can’t recall.

But when I eventually load my plate with as much of his delicately handmade sushi as my plate can hold, I think about a New York Times article I recently read about sushi snobbery — how it’s favoured for the austere discipline that’s required by its makers.

At some sushi bars in Japan, the writer pens, prospective chefs begin making rice only after a long novitiate, then wait even longer before they’re even permitted to pick up a knife.

Fair enough — the rice is everything in my opinion. It’s easy enough to find good farmed or fresh salmon or tuna in fresh supply but soggy, dense rice can completely kill a sushi experience.

Beyond the art of slicing and dicing — and I’m not in any way taking away from that refined skill — if you don’t have a good piece of fish to start off with, no amount of skill will hold up to the high standard expected of an establishment such as San Deck at Sandton Sun, part of the Tsogo Sun Hotel group.

Here, a platter of sushi and or oysters and a bottle of chilled Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label will set you back about R1,050.

Known as Sandton’s best sundowner spot, as media guests and I sample the special I spot Siya Kolisi and his wife Rachel out of the corner of my eye. Fresh from the Rugby World Cup 2019 win, they are the picture of the typical clientele often spotted here.

It’s late afternoon and the deck is slowly filling up with revellers looking to bag the best spots before the queues start forming. Due to the popularity of the hangout, the restaurant doesn’t take bookings for outside seating — instead operating on a first-come, first-serve basis. This is understandable. This is the epicentre of Johannesburg’s affluent commercial city centre — and we're seated at the top of it.

Sandton San Deck.
Sandton San Deck.
Image: Supplied/Sandton Sun

As fellow guests share previous experiences on this upmarket terrace, some share exquisite experiences of being serenaded by a saxophonist against a sun gently setting on Johannesburg’s skyline of ever-increasing high-rise buildings.

Another recounts a messy bunfight with bodyguards that man the entrance when guests tried to aggressively insist on being allowed into the clearly oversubscribed venue. Said guests were swiftly removed by the police.

Deals are being struck and celebrated here; society’s who’s who are networking and flossing; and everyone desperately wants to be part of the mix.

Many are hotel guests, local and international business travellers; others meander into the restaurant heavily laden with designer bags after a shopping run of Sandton’s Diamond Walk — a stretch of glitzy stores that includes Gucci, Prada, Dior, Louis Vuitton among others — that conveniently lead you to the foot of the Sandton Sun.

Whether you choose to sit poolside on the deck chairs, around the fire pit, or enjoy a private dining experience inside, do inquire about the promotional offer.

For more information, call +27 11 780 5000 or visit the website.