Situated in Long street, this authentic dumpling restaurant is a taste of China in the heart of Cape Town. Everything is made-to-order by the chef and is served straight out of the steamer or pan so that you eat each dumpling while it’s still hot and fresh. Dumplings on offer include beef, lamb and chicken pot stickers which come served in threes with a dipping sauce. Traditional Chinese Char Su Bao stuffed with red bean paste is a popular choice and highly recommended by the waiter, as is the sweet and smoky pork bao. Both are served in single portions.
For something a little more filling and substantial, the slow-braised beef with jasmine rice is a delicious combination of fatty succulent beef and sticky fragrant rice. The spicy prawn laksa is a must-try for any seafood lover, the broth tastes of the ocean, and the prawns are served in the shell for maximum flavour delivery.
Dessert options comprise of homemade seasonal ice cream flavours, served by the scoop. The black sesame ice cream is a dark charcoal colour with an interesting, unfamiliar flavour. Perfect for a quick lunch outing or a relaxed dinner.
A selection of signature Chinese-inspired house cocktails are available. Try the green tea mojito or Shanghai iced tea with a vodka kick. Wine and beer are available, but the selection is limited. There is a wide range of Chinese teas available, as well as a selection of traditional coffee and Vietnamese coffee on offer too. Both can be served iced or with a scoop of ice cream.
Service is attentive, and the waiting time is dependent on how busy the restaurant is. Everything is made-to-order and is served as soon as it is ready. The open-plan kitchen reveals the tight kitchen space as well as the small number of chefs working at any given time.
The restaurant is modestly decorated, with Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling and the menu written on chalkboards that hang on the wall. Tables are small and plain with small stools, enough space for you to receive your order, eat it timeously and be on your way. Don’t expect to hang around for hours for a leisurely lunch or dinner.
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If casual dining is your thing, and authentic Asian taste is what you’re after, this little gem won’t disappoint. The philosophy of chef/owner Edmund Hung is to keep things simple, which allows fresh ingredients and that moreish umami flavour to live to their full potential. There are a few perennial fixtures on the blackboard menu, including the yummy chicken wontons, potstickers in a few variations – with a crisp crust, the way potstickers should be – and a cold sesame-noodle salad, which can be ordered with or without chicken and is always good. Keep an eye out for the tasty hawker tofu noodles. There’s usually a special of the day, and everything is served with the intension of sharing (though portions mostly come in threes), and it’s not difficult to work your way through the entire menu in one sitting. Don’t forgo dessert: the black-sesame ice cream is heavenly, especially if it’s served with the gently spiced citrus compote.
The BYO policy this place once had is now a thing of the past, and has made way for subtly flavoured cocktails such as green-tea mojitos, a succinct and reasonable wine list, and a couple of Asian beers.
The restaurant is small and the staff complement is limited to about two people to cater to the whole space, so when it’s busy don’t expect much of a discourse. However, orders are delivered to tables fresh and fast, and usually with a smile.
While the interior is pared down, it’s characteristic of what you would find at street-food establishments in Asia. That’s not to say it’s unappealing: slightly kitsch Kung Fu movie posters adorn the walls, and, combined with a great playlist –if you’re lucky, they may turn on the disco ball – it’s a cosy, friendly space.
There’s a number of vegetarian options on the list, making this a good choice for non-meat eaters.
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