The name Yama is derived from the Japanese word for “mountain." This name is particularly appropriate for our restaurant, situated amidst the breathtaking landscape of the Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek, and Simonsberg mountains.
Yama was established in 2020 by Chef Ryan Shell, shortly after the inception of Ōku, our sister restaurant.

Having lived in and around Franschhoek for nearly 15 years, Chef Ryan had a strong desire to launch his own venture in this beautiful town. The question of what type of restaurant to open loomed, and after a thorough survey of the Franschhoek dining scene, it became apparent that many restaurants in the area offered similar menus.

Drawing from his experiences in Indonesia, Ryan realised there was a gap in the market for Asian cuisine in Franschhoek. Despite his limited prior knowledge of Asian culinary traditions, he and the team embarked on a journey of learning and growth. Initially, the team secured only the space currently occupied by Ōku, where none of the members possessed significant expertise in sushi preparation. Consequently, sushi was not included in Ōku's menu. However, fortune smiled upon them when, about a week later, the space that Yama now occupies became available, presenting an opportunity to expand.

Without hesitation, they seized the chance to establish a sushi restaurant in this newly acquired space and Yama's doors officially opened on December 16, 2020, just two months after Ōku's launch. “Initially, our primary focus was on sushi. But it didn't take long for us to recognise the demand for a broader culinary range. Gradually, we began incorporating menu items from Ōku, creating a fusion of flavours and experiences”. By mid-2022, the menus for both establishments had converged to a remarkable extent. Consequently, we transformed Ōku into a more formal, fine dining experience, while Yama retained its simplicity, offering a quick and casual dining experience.

Chef Ryan emphasises our commitment to upholding the great tradition of sushi, ensuring the use of the finest available ingredients as the cornerstone of our culinary journey.



Yama's culinary philosophy is characterised by its simplicity, a principle that is balanced with an unwavering commitment to using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

Although Yama has Japanese roots, our culinary inspiration goes beyond geographical boundaries. While we do draw from Japanese traditions, we also find creative sparks in the diverse flavours of Southeast Asia.

Our menu is a fusion of these regional influences, resulting in a culinary tapestry that celebrates a wide array of tastes, textures, and ingredients. It's a testament to the ever-evolving and inclusive nature of our cuisine, where the Japanese name serves as a nod to our foundation, but the essence of our dishes transcends borders and celebrates the richness of Asian gastronomy.


Ryan, our founder as well as our dedicated team of chefs emphasise the importance of adhering to the rich tradition of sushi. "For us, it all begins with sourcing the finest ingredients," he explains. Our menu includes a variety of appetisers, known as "zensai," as well as dumplings filled with sweet potato, prawn, duck, pork, and beef. Noodle bowls, poke bowls, bao, and nourishing broths are among the many savoury choices. To complement your meal, we offer a selection of side dishes, including noodles, corn rice, and braised baby cabbage. Indulge your sweet tooth with our dessert selection, which features delights like mugi-chai coconut custard and the classic frozen treat, Shābetto.


We hold a deep reverence for the concept of farm-to-table dining, where we prioritise the use of locally grown produce and locally-sourced meats to craft our dishes. This dedication to supporting local suppliers not only ensures the highest quality ingredients but also strengthens the bonds between our restaurant and the community. While we champion locally-sourced ingredients, there are instances where our commitment to offering the finest flavours leads us to explore global avenues. Take, for example, our decision to import salmon. This exquisite fish is an essential component of many of our signature dishes, yet its availability from local suppliers is limited. To maintain the uncompromising quality of our food, we've chosen to source the best salmon from beyond our local borders. This is all part of our dedication to delivering a memorable dining experience to you.


At Yama, our mission goes beyond just serving food; it plays a role in making a positive impact on the community. We believe that a restaurant can be a force for good, and we're committed to making that belief a reality.

One of the ways we do this is with our workforce development. Much like our own initial journey of learning and growth, this has now become the framework for what Ōku and Yama actually are about. From the outside it looks like a business that gives customers a great food and wine experience where in reality it is a development business and our goal is to take enthusiastic, inexperienced young local people and up-skill them with the goal of them opening their own business one day.

This may seem counter intuitive but by focussing on our people in this way we have created a positive working environment which translates into a comfortable and warm experience for our guests. Yama is more than a place to dine; it's a place for growth and opportunity and by eating with us you are a part of this journey too.