Good sushi is like pornography — you know it when you see it.
It has been said that the best sushi to be found in Johannesburg is at Japa in Rivonia. I’m not sure it is the best but it’s pretty close — and certainly better than the cut-rate joints in Norwood.
Johannesburg gets its fresh fish from Cape Town and Maputo — on ice if you’re lucky, frozen if you’re not. We get red snapper and the delicious, albeit endangered, rock cod from Mozambique, and everything else — kingklip, hake and tuna — from the Cape.
The Japa sushi platter included beautifully prepared mounds of rice draped with lustrous, perfectly sliced tuna and rock cod. The tuna had a not entirely pleasant granular quality but was passable.
The restaurant, in one of those faceless malls that Johannesburg does so well, looks out on a bank machine, so keep your eyes on your plate.
There’s a large tank with oysters near the door and a glistening display of raw fish — another clue to a good sushi restaurant.
For the cooked dishes, I can re-commend the Ten Don, a big bowl of sticky rice with shards of tempura (prawn, onion, butternut) arranged on top and hidden deeper down.
The rice has a lashing of a very good sweet soy/fish sauce. It also comes with Japa’s excellent miso soup and a small bowl of mildly spiced pickles.
The waitress, unfortunately, appeared entirely clueless and didn’t know what fish was available. Perhaps she was new.
In the parking lot afterwards there was an encouraging sign: a Volvo with the sunroof open and a large polystyrene airfreight box wedged between the seats — you’re not getting fish any fresher than this.
Japa, Rivonia Village Shopping Centre, Rivonia Road. Phone: