The latest addition to Nicolway Bryanston’s restaurant strip comes in the form of Ukkō — a new solo venture by seasoned restaurateur Mun Manal, previously the operator of Mezepoli and the Plaka group — that offers an extensive menu of tapas and sushi.
The name is derived from the word Ukkonen, god of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder in Finnish mythology, and the customary coming together for food and drink which took place as a sacrifice — believed to guarantee good weather and harvests for the year ahead.
“Ukkō is an extension of the idea of a space where people come together to celebrate special moments” says Manal.
The interior, with warm wood tones and natural stone finishes, is adorned with intricate macramé and lit by basket-weave lampshades, creating a relaxed setting and makes for a trendy Mediterranean feel and a sense of tranquillity.
Begin with a few bites from their “Mediterr-Asian” raw bar with a selection of tataki, carpaccio and tartar in addition to a oysters with a selection of toppings — classic, mignonettes and Asian.
Ukko have gone all out with their sushi menu, creating a host of contemporary takes on the Japanese staple. There’s the “dynamite” of crispy tempura prawn roll topped with torched salmon, jalapeño and a sriracha yakitori sauce — a deliciously spicy and textural affair with layers of heat.
The tapas offering, mainly Mediterranean focused but it also dabbles in Asian flavours, is best enjoyed shared. It’s divided into vegetarian, meat and seafood, ensuring there’s sure to be something for everyone.
Try the chicken, ginger and spring onion dumplings served with a sweet gyoza sauce together with some moreish crispy zucchini ribbons, or perhaps the salt-and-pepper squid heads with a wasabi aioli, for starters. The tender riblets with sticky basting aren’t to be missed either; add a side of grilled corn with a sprinkling of feta or one of their salads to complete the meal.
Also worth a taste is the chargrilled brinjal and feta salad with baby spinach, heirloom tomatoes and cranberries with a mint-tahini dressing that’s which is wonderfully elevated by the addition of pine-nut brittle.
Other dishes proving popular include onion bloom — the glorious fried allium served with lemon and paprika aioli — and roasted bone marrow pangrattato, generously lathered on toasted sourdough.
Those who prefer their own meal can from the large-plates menu, including a hefty 700g French trimmed Tomahawk and prawns with a classic Mediterranean flavours of olive oil, garlic and herbs.
Dessert keeps things simple with the likes of pistachio-rolled vanilla ice cream, tiramisu and, for true indulgence, a Lindt-centred baked chocolate fondant.
Accompany your meal with a classic or creative cocktail from their mixology bar or a glass of SA vino.
Shop U24, Nicolway Shopping Centre, Bryanston, Sandton
Tuesday - Saturday 11AM - 10PM
Sunday - Monday 11AM - 9PM
For bookings: ukkorestaurant.co.za