Any foodie worth their salt will know that when Chef Peter Tempelhoff (of Greenhouse fame – consistently superb, award-winning hotel restaurant in the Constantia Valley) is involved, it’s going to be good. ‘It’, in this case, is his brand urban eatery, FYN. The realisation of a ‘decades long dream’ it promises to ‘change the way gourmands perceive fine dining in the CBD’.
Positioned five stories up on the corner of the historic Parliament Street and Church Square, in the heart of Cape Town’s CBD, the restaurant offers magnificent views of Lion’s Head, Table Mountain, and the buzzing streets below. The decor is slick, moody, and minimalist – on point with the trendy set it attracts. The incredible ceiling piece (a wooden bead roof installation) competes only with the open-plan kitchen for centre of attention, the raw cement, marble and stark walls offering a downtown Manhattan feel.
‘FYN’, the Afrikaans word for ‘fine’ or the ‘better half of ‘fynbos’’ as Tempelhoff likes to say, implies that the menu will be locally inspired. This is true, but while the ingredients might be proudly South African, much like the decor and ambiance, they’re interpreted with a distinctly Japanese sense of refinement – more specifically, in the Japanese kaiseki tradition.
Bento boxes abound. After a melt-in-your-mouth bite of French bread served with a dusting of bone marrow coal and wagyu butter, we made our way around the box of canapes. There is a chilled miso soup, a delicate daikon and octopus maki with ink mayonnaise, shishito pepper and goat’s cheese, with the tiny, but very tasty, Karoo lamb samoosa adding a local flair. Each dish within the box of delights is a work of art, to be enjoyed with the chopsticks placed alongside the elegant plates or tiny forks and spoons they’re served on.
The Kaiseki Tray is the main event, and a seductive adventure of flavours, textures and style. We began with the colder dishes. A squid ‘ramen’, is followed by the game fish sashimi of the day, done with zesty ponzu dressing and finished with a blue prawn. The truffle chawanmushi is an unexpected encounter, the silky smooth, but savoury egg custard infused with delicate notes of mushroom that added that elusive umami punch.
One is not deprived of meat, in this case, an impala tataki, dashed with miso cream and tempura shiso. However, the savoury showstopper is the crispy duck breast (though the meat course changes on a regular basis). Served with eggplant, sancho pepper and glazed with unagi that is thick, sweet, salty and flavourful, it delivers in spades.
Dessert again, is served Kaiseki style. Each was a delight. The blueberries, yuzu and coconut creation, in particular, deserves a round of applause. The yuzu curd is expressive in it’s tartness, the coconut ice cream sweet, but not too much so, and the finish (puffed black rice in white chocolate) adds a satisfying crunch. Chocolate lovers will rejoice in the Madagascan chocolate, salted Japanese plum and fennel dessert – rich and delicious chocolate married with the cool respite that is the fennel ice cream.
Tempelhoff has partnered with two of the best operators in the business. Executive chef Ashley Moss, Tempelhoff’s head chef at Greenhouse for the past four years, is in charge of the kitchen, while Jennifer Hugé, who was restaurant manager at La Colombe for 14 years, is Fyn’s general manager. She is also responsible for some of the most original wine pairings we’ve experienced, each wine unusual, but ideally matched to the dish it accompanies. We enjoyed the novel Albarino from Newton Johnson, a spectacular Neil Ellis unfiltered white blend aptly named ‘Op Sy Moer’, as well as a Cinsault and Vriesenhof pinotage that sang when sipped with the duck dish. There is also an array of cocktails, and the wine list is extensive (and proudly local), should you wish to choose your own.
FYN has burst onto the scene as the most talked about restaurant in Cape Town for good reason. While it is understated, it makes a statement, so no need to wait to book your own epicurean journey there.
To book, visit http://fynrestaurant.com/ or call +27 (0)21 286 2733
Blog post by Tarah Darge