Ukkō gets its name from “Ukkonen”, a Finnish mythology referencing the god of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder. In the same mythology, it was customary to come together and consume food and alcoholic beverages as a sacrifice. The celebration was believed to guarantee good weather and harvest for the year ahead. Ukkō possessed a weapon called “Ukonvasara” an anchor-looking hammer, representing the weapon Ukkō used to strike lightning. The name Ukkō is an extension of the idea of a space where people come together to celebrate special moments. If you’re in the Johannesburg region then this unique and intimate restaurant is a must-visit. Whether it’s brunch, lunch, after work drinks or dinner - they’ve got you!
We caught up with founder & owner Mun Manal to share on the elements that make Ukkō just so special.
What inspired your business idea?
The choice to dive headfirst into the restaurant industry was inspired by a blend of passion, circumstance, and a love for the craft. It's an industry that's not just about food; it's about creating experiences and weaving stories through flavours and atmospheres. We have coined the idea of MediterrAsian cuisine - which is an ode to the fusion of Mediterranean and Asian influences.
Take us through the menu offering?
Ukkō offers a stylish Mediterranean Tapas and Sushi menu, featuring an extensive wine list and mixology bar. From Ukkō sushi rolls and lamb riblets to crispy prawns and a selection of tapas and large plate offerings, the menu promises an explosion of flavours. The MediterrAsian fusion adds an extra layer of uniqueness to the culinary experience.
What makes Ukkō so different?
First, In the landscape of restaurants, I noticed a gap....a disconnection between aesthetics, food quality, and service. It's a problem many establishments grapple with. There are those with Instagrammable spaces, yet the service and food quality fall short. On the flip side, some restaurants might lack the wow factor in setup, but deliver exceptional food and service. This observation fuelled my determination.
Creating a harmony of aesthetics, food quality, and service became a mission. We've strived to capture that elusive trifecta: a captivating look and feel, a menu consistently delivering exceptional taste, and service exceeding expectations.
second, our business culture defines who we are and is the most important element and a major contributor to our success, creating a noticeable shift in the industry, which is customer and service-focused and goes beyond just food and drinks.
What are your top menu offerings?
- from the mixology bar: Negroni Sbagliato / Signature Whisky Sours as well as the Mansika a tequila base cocktail
- The best cold dish would have to be the Sushi - Caribbean Roll (Tuna, Salmon & Orange Caviar) as well as the Burrata Caprese Salad
- Fresh and from the grill - the Whole Fish (Grilled in olive oil, lemon & thyme)
- Best meat Dish – the Wagyu Rump steak served medium rare, and lamb riblets salt & pepper crusted
What inspires you to be successful?
Apart from my passion for the industry and the need to be great in what we do, The Ukkō team is the heartbeat of our success.
We operate not as individuals but as a collective force, each member bringing unique skills and dedication to the table.
Collaboration is the key to our success, ensuring every aspect of the dining experience is meticulously crafted—from the kitchen to the service.
What do you hope people will experience when coming to Ukkō?
The aim for our guests is to experience a perfect balance between upmarket and casual dining, in an inviting setting. Ukkō aims to provide an exceptional dining experience for partners, families, and friends, emphasising pleasing aesthetics, food quality, and great service.
Are there any plans to expand to other regions?
I don’t believe that every successful concept is ‘franchisable’, there is an element of attraction to every restaurant at a specific location operated by certain key individuals, however, we believe in evolving on a store level and industry as a whole, the thought process for every concept creation has to be unique with a lot of attention to detail and cannot be rushed. I believe we are ready and currently on the lookout for other opportunities to create other successful concepts within the hospitality and entertainment industry.
Take us through the experience when coming to Ukkō. Is there anything special you’d like to share about the journey?
The Ukko experience entails an inviting ambience, attentive service, and culinary craftsmanship.
The curated menu will provide you with tastes from around the globe, but the atmosphere has a unique Jozi vibe.
As you eat, you will hear the sounds of laughter and the buzz of conversation.
The lighting is warm and creates an intimate setting, with rattan lighting gently swaying overhead.
The restaurant’s interior has a modern Med-Asian feel, with warm wood tones and natural stone finishes, in a relaxed setting, giving the space a cosy yet trendy feel that transports you to a tranquil space.
Ukkō is a must-visit!
Tuesday - Saturday | 11 am – 10 pm
Sunday - Monday | 11 am – 9 pm