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South China Dim Sum Bar

South China Dim Sum Bar
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Cost
R75 avg main meal
Ambience
Comfy & casual
Food
Asian
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
500

Critic's review

Jeanne Calitz

Food
Eating here just never gets old. The short, standard menu stays the same, mostly, offering a variety of steamed and fried dumplings (the lamb and beef potstickers are firm favourites, as are the chicken and ginger versions), supplemented by special creations on the day. The fluffy pork bun is apt to have you moaning with pleasure, and the braised beef short ribs with sticky jasmine rice is a total delight – fragrant, filling and moreish. It’s best to get your order in quickly, as South China is very popular and dishes may run out, especially later at night. Keep an eye out for special items, as these are bound to be interesting and bursting with flavour – a serving of steamed dumplings with prawns and shitake mushrooms, for example, goes down a storm, and is promptly followed by a second order. Desserts are not that big a thing here, but if you’ve the inkling, there are a couple of delicious (and big) chocolate truffles to be savoured, as well as a few interestingly flavoured ice creams and sorbets.

Drinks
A small but well chosen wine list is supplemented by an Asian beer or two, bubbly (available by the glass) and special cocktails that may vary – the green tea mohito is fantastic.

Service
Quick off the mark – staff members are very efficient at ensuring orders come in and are served at a good pace. The chef and owner be seen buzzing behind the counter, with always a smile to spare for his happy clientele.

Ambience
The décor is very simple, with wooden tables and benches, and some old-school Asian posters on the wall. But you don’t come here for the décor, you come for the fantastic food and the vibe. There’s always a nice buzz in the air, thanks in part to the urban crawl outside in Long Street, but mostly to the fact that customers seem so chuffed to have snagged a seat.

And …
They do two servings at night, the early seating starting at 18:30, which makes it perfect for getting a quick bite before going to a movie or the theatre.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Jeanne Calitz

    Food
    Eating here just never gets old. The short, standard menu stays the same, mostly, offering a variety of steamed and fried dumplings (the lamb and beef potstickers are firm favourites, as are the chicken and ginger versions), supplemented by special creations on the day. The fluffy pork bun is apt to have you moaning with pleasure, and the braised beef short ribs with sticky jasmine rice is a total delight – fragrant, filling and moreish. It’s best to get your order in quickly, as South China is very popular and dishes may run out, especially later at night. Keep an eye out for special items, as these are bound to be interesting and bursting with flavour – a serving of steamed dumplings with prawns and shitake mushrooms, for example, goes down a storm, and is promptly followed by a second order. Desserts are not that big a thing here, but if you’ve the inkling, there are a couple of delicious (and big) chocolate truffles to be savoured, as well as a few interestingly flavoured ice creams and sorbets.

    Drinks
    A small but well chosen wine list is supplemented by an Asian beer or two, bubbly (available by the glass) and special cocktails that may vary – the green tea mohito is fantastic.

    Service
    Quick off the mark – staff members are very efficient at ensuring orders come in and are served at a good pace. The chef and owner be seen buzzing behind the counter, with always a smile to spare for his happy clientele.

    Ambience
    The décor is very simple, with wooden tables and benches, and some old-school Asian posters on the wall. But you don’t come here for the décor, you come for the fantastic food and the vibe. There’s always a nice buzz in the air, thanks in part to the urban crawl outside in Long Street, but mostly to the fact that customers seem so chuffed to have snagged a seat.

    And …
    They do two servings at night, the early seating starting at 18:30, which makes it perfect for getting a quick bite before going to a movie or the theatre.
    October 2015

  • Ishay Govender-Ypma

    Food
    What started out as a bare-bones basic eatery, expanding on the owners’ food market offering, has blossomed into a popular dim sum spot on one of Cape Town’s busiest streets.

    The emphasis is on good quality dim sum, with several evergreen items like the pot stickers, the char siu boa (fluffy wheat buns) and cold sesame noodle salad taking pride of place on the menu. Dim sum means 'touch the heart' and this spot certainly has with its regular clientele.

    Although dim sum in the traditional sense is meant to be a series of snacks, diners can enjoy a complete meal here by choosing dishes tapas-style and sharing.

    In addition to the regular offering on the chalkboard, a small selection of daily specials is available. The braised beef short rib served with steamed jasmine rice is a perennial favourite, and the sui mai (pork dumplings with mustard and hoisin sauce) and the hawker noodles are highly recommended. Dessert offerings are scant but the salted caramel truffles are a must. Order two.

    Drinks 
    Yum cha refers to the act of eating dim sum, which is traditionally served with tea. While most guests prefer to order from the small wine selection, why not try the green tea mojito or a homemade Shanghai ice tea on warmer days?

    Service 
    Expect friendly service from young waiting staff. A watchful eye from the ever-present chef-owners adds charm to this tiny diner.

    Ambience 
    While Long Street restaurants are popular with spontaneous last-minute partygoers, people make reservations here because the tables are nabbed before you can say ‘yum cha’.

    It’s a very tiny eatery with a few tables and wooden crate seating – these have now received thin cushions to make seating a little more comfortable. Colourful Asian posters feature on the walls. Tables are tightly spaced, making for a cosy atmosphere. This isn’t the ideal spot for families or kids though.

    And… 
    Some items run out due to popularity, so put your orders in early. The first, early seating of the evening is a perfect choice for a quick bite before moving on to something like a theatre show elsewhere.

    (July 2014)

  • The perfect hipster eatery with crates for seats and Kung Fu posters on the walls. Authentic tastes come from the tiny kitchen, with meals served in eco-friendly boxes. Order any (all) dim sum, braised beef short rib and crispy turnip cakes. (Eat Out magazine 2014)
  • Food
    The daily blackboard tempts with authentic street-food from Southeast Asia. Fresh ingredients go into fragrant broths made with homemade noodles and homemade dumplings of all kinds (wontons, pot stickers, har gao, char siu and sui mai) with delicious BBQ pork, beef, chicken, prawn and mushroom fillings, and Szechuan, soy and hoisin dipping sauce. But the Asian chefs do more than dumplings. Try sesame vegetable noodle salad with peanut sauce; hawker noodles with tofu; or the laksa lemak, a spicy rice noodle coconut broth with steamed greens, bean sprouts and prawns.

    Wine
    A few wines to choose from a good range or try the homemade ice tea brew of the day.

    Service
    Quick on the draw. Order your food at the counter, made in front of your eyes in the small kitchen.

    Ambience
    Cosy, loud and shoulder-to-shoulder. The décor is recycled from old wooden packing crates, raw plaster and raw steel. Eat off biodegradable bowls and plates. We loved the vintage Bruce Lee movie posters. You get the picture.

    And...
    There are good vegetarian options like fried turnip cakes on the small menu. (GH, October 2012)
  • Leila Saffarian

    You may just think you're in New York... The darling of Long Street has shown great staying power. Authentic tastes and flavours come from the tiny kitchen, with all meals served on eco-friendly take-away-style containers. The variety of dim sum is incredible and the star anise-braised beef short rib has to receive special mention. Soft and crispy turnip cakes are sure to be loved by both vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Service is super efficient and friendly. Recommended for hipster spotting. (July 2013)

User reviews

  • Really charming place, loved the ambience and decor...relaxing and very friendly, like an oasis in the middle of Long street and its hustle. Ordered the Char Siu bao, amazingly fluffy and moist with delicious char siu filling.I also got to taste the day's special which was beautifully tender Pork belly steamed bun...totally worth it. The chicken wontons and beef potstickers paired with the unique chilli oil were the highlight of the night, chinese comfort food at its finest. And cheers to the cool waiters! Will definitely go there on a regular basis!
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  • Love, love, love this place! Completely agree with reviewer below - could happily eat at South China every week. Do yourself a favour and order one of everything on the menu! Perfect for a group of three, as all dim sum served in portions of three (so no need for politeness!). Service was swift and friendly with two waiting staff attending to all tables. Our meal was R215 per person including generous tip and two bottles of wine.
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  • Probably one of the only restaurants in Cape Town I could go to on a weekly basis. Not only is the food delicious and fresh, it is extremely reasonably priced, as is their wine. The service is friendly and relaxed. Prawn sui mai is my personal stand out. The chef puts on specials too which don't disappoint. Yum!
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  • Hi, Fortunately I am lucked with the ability to be able to eat at a number of restaurants in South Africa. From time to time they use one of my products or not, so I'm often unable to write about the places I enjoy the most. Thankfully Ed, the owner of Dim Sum, doesn't really use my products so I feel totally at liberty to give an open assessment of his establishment. This small oasis in the midst of the Long Street madness is such a breath of fresh air that its impossible to mistake it for any of the other establishments along the strip. To say that it is far and away the calmest and most serene site is maybe to overstate the mark, but it is certainly a place where respect is given for the other diners. This not so subtle assessment may well be to dampen the previous comment from the 13th of March, but so what. NOW...the food...OMF. What a small yet hugely subtle collection of food. My two mates and I ate there recently and tried the dim sum, char siu bao or wonton on the list so here goes... We were floored by the Wonton starter so much so we had two more...the sauce was delicate and didn't overwhelm the chicken ginger and nut interior...wow. The Char Sui Bao and the Dow Sa Bou were so vastly different. When we received our order we were sure we'd mis ordered...looks are deceiving. The Char sweet Honey roasted Pork was so powerful that the dough outside was absolutely necessary. Then, once we took a bite of the Dow bean curd the rich flavours oozed across our palates to make the Char seem almost ridiculously overwhelming. So we ordered a second pass...we were delightfully incorrect in our assessments. The Siu Mai and the Har Gou were equally astounding...so much so that we took a massive five min break between bites to savour the mushroom, prawns and sauces to our infinite happiness... The only let down was the desert. We didn't have one. Thanks Ed and your team for a fantastic calm evening amidst the flavours of So. East Asia and unending noise of the outside world.
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  • This may be the only negative review. My friends and I (about 10 of us) visited South China Dim Sum Bar Friday evening (27 February 2015). it was for a birthday and the table was booked for us in the week. Extremely disappointed at the manner we were treated, to an extent where we all felt unwelcome to stay. Being a foodie and working in the tourism / hospitality industry for the last decade, I can say I have never in my life been to a restaurant and felt this type of treatment. During our hour there, our waitress came to us twice, first to inform us to be quiet, second to tell us that we are not being civilised (her actual words) and apparently this was all relayed to her by the chef / owner Ed. Yes, the one Char Siu Bao I ate was authentic and amazing, and decor and lighting fit right in with the feel of the eatery. I have since contacted the owner / chef directly, he gave me the following vague response: "... Please understand that due to the small size of the restaurant we have to be mindful of the comfort of other patrons. We undertake to train staff to deal with these situations more delicately in the furture." But, honestly / naturally, with an eatery is situated on the vibrant Long Street and it was a Friday evening, WHY take a group table booking if you are not prepared / willing for it? and yet, given the small size of the eatery, never once did the owner / chef come to our table to explain the situation from his point of view.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Cocktails
  • Licensed
  • Takeaways

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