Venues

Red Chamber

Red Chamber
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  • Phone Number 011 325 6048
  • Location Jan Smuts Avenue, 6 Middle Mall, Hyde Park Corner, Hyde Park, Johannesburg
  • email info@redchamber.co.za
  • Opening Hours

    Monday to Sunday 12.30pm - 10pm

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Cost
R130
Ambience
Authentic culture
Food
Chinese
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Rupesh Kassen

Food
Emma Chen opened Red Chamber in 1989 with the vision of providing authentic Asian food to the public. The menu contains well-known Chinese favourites and some American-Chinese dishes. The restaurant has a strictly no MSG policy and prides itself on its authenticity.

The five-spice chicken wings, sesame prawn toast and a selection of dumplings are a good start. Sharing is a cultural norm and dishes are placed on the 'lazy Susan' in the centre of the table so everyone can grab a bite. The deep-fried green beans with black bean and chilli is simple yet surprisingly delicious. Sizzling kingklip with chilli and garlic and crispy beef are favourites, too. There’s a dedicated health section on the menu for those watching their diet, and an adequate selection of vegetarian options. No Chinese meal is complete without a fortune cookie.

Drinks
The wine list offers a good selection of South African wines and some Asian beers.

Service
You won't get more a more authentic experience, with Chinese waiters who move around with great precision and efficiency.

Ambience
The restaurant has moved to a new, revamped location in the Hyde Park shopping centre, with a modern, zen appeal.

And...
For an experience of traditional Chinese food from Emma's childhood, try PRON, which specialises in noodles and other authentic dishes.

(September 2016)

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  • Gwynne Conlyn

    The food
    The menu has been well considered and contains useful information. It is also worth noting that the restaurant has a strictly no MSG policy, which is to be applauded.

    The food on this occasion was good, but hardly extraordinary. The hot and sour soup was tasty, but lacked the complexity of flavour and searing heat you might hope for, while the tom yum soup was good, but not spectacular. A dish of sizzling prawns with Chinese satay sauce was deemed ‘okay’ by a dining companion; the crispy beef was fair in flavour but a bit on the tough side; the spicy prawns with chilli and garlic was as it should be; and a side dish of mixed vegetables was perfectly crunchy and excellent in taste. All in all, the meal was good, but nothing to write home about. The cuisine is still superior to your regular corner takeaway, but lacking in the freshness that you might expect from a respected Chinese restaurant.

    The wine
    The wine list offers good regulars, but at quite a mark-up. You will also find some Chinese beers on the menu.

    The service
    Service at the Red Chamber is old-school: considerate and efficient, but stoic. You might be seated next to the only other guests and staff are not always well informed about what’s cooking in the kitchen.

    The ambience
    The Red Chamber is quite a legendary restaurant and regulars will find the décor unchanged: it is still voluminous, with a red, black and gold colour scheme, and the large terracotta warrior is still there.

    The verdict
    Some would say ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, but the venue might need some updating.

    (May 2014)
  • Food
    This has long been regarded as one of the best Chinese establishments in the city thanks to its passionate owner Emma Chen who specialises in Mandarin food. Don’t always stick to your favourites; try something new and make sure to share. The cucumber salad is made to a secret recipe, the Peking duck and the sizzling kingklip in fruit sauce are marvellous, and the hot pot of spicy pork mince and aubergine is a winner.

    Wine
    There is a decent wine list as well as a few Chinese beers.

    Service
    Friendly, but it can be slow when the restaurant is pumping.

    Ambience
    It’s decorated in traditional red and gold, with an open and airy layout and a life-size terracotta warrior who watches over proceedings.

    And...
    Emma’s speciality nights – be they Chinese New Year or her prawn, duck and crab feasts – are a must, so get on her email list. (JW, October 2012)
  • Food
    For a number of years the Mandarin and Cantonese food served by the jovial Emma Chen has deservedly made this one of the best Chinese establishments in the city. Regular customers (most of the clientele) have their favourite dishes, from the signature Peking duck to calamari served which chilli and garlic and black beans. You could try something new on each visit, like the sizzling kingklip with fruit sauce, or dumplings. The vegetarian Monk’s Dish and pork with aubergines are also winners.

    Wine
    A fair wine list and some Chinese beers.

    Service
    It can be slow when the restaurant is pumping, or if Emma isn’t present.

    Ambience
    The décor is upmarket and distinctly red and gold, with hanging Chinese lanterns and a life-size terracotta warrior who happily watches over proceedings.

    And...
    The speciality evenings (including crab and duck nights) are an absolute must. (October 2011)
  • Jacquie Myburgh

    One of the best Chinese restaurants in Johannesburg thanks to its consistent quality and the most engaging proprietor, Emma Chen. A neighbourhood favourite for mid-week dinner, such as seven cup chicken, ma po tofu, pork strings in sweet bean paste with pancakes, Peking duck and pork pot stickers. (Eat Out magazine 2014)
  • Jacquie Myburgh

    One of the best Chinese restaurants in Johannesburg thanks for its consistent quality and the most engaging proprietor, Emma Chen. A neighbourhood favourite for mid-week dinner, such as seven cup chicken, ma po tofu, pork strings in sweet bean paste with pancakes, Peking duck and pork pot stickers. (July 2013)

User reviews

  • Haven't been to red chamber for a while. The food seemed to be going downhill. So was very please to find they seem to have turned it around. Today's meal was a welcome return to form. The chicken three ways was excellent, as were the pork chops. Excellent, fast efficient service. I'll be back again from now on.
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  • We had our first meal at Red Chamber since they moved to new position in Hyde Park Centre. The meal was disappointing, duck was tough, kingklip was mushy and stir fried veg swimming in water. Also, all dishes lacked flavor.
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  • This used to be one of my absolute favourite restaurants in Joburg but it has declined in the last 5 years. I even used to celebrate my birthdays here. The food has become bland and is not as well prepared as it used to be. For instance, the crispy seawood had huge lumps of uncooked sugar in it. The garlic&chilli beef was dry and tough. The Peking duck was dry but not crisp. The service is the same. I like the waiters- quick and efficient. The place could use an update, but at the same time, it isn't shabby. When I first started going to this restaurant about 10 years ago, it was always packed and you couldn't hope to get in without a reservation. I think the fact that it isn't shows that people agree with me.
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  • Dear Emma. Your staff, floor and kitchen, have once again let you and the reputation of your establishment down. I was taken there last night as a birthday present. A great disappointment. The food was below average and the service just deteriorated over the course of the evening. This is the second time that I have experienced below average standards within a very short period of time and I feel I should make you aware of the fact that The Red Chamber is no longer a great place to go for a Chinese meal. Great pity.

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  • We ate at the Red Chamber last night (June 2013). Very good service. Sue was our waitress. Food was excellent. Deep fried calamari with black bean and one of the prawn dishes. The calamari was better than the prawns. We ordered off the chefs recommendations. Quick service. Very attentive. Look forward to trying out some other dishes.

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  • Have been a customer for quite a while, to be precise two years. I have seen the service decay, quality of the food going down and tables very dirty and sticky. A pity for a great ambassador of Chinese cuisine.

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  • Flavourless, unappetizing food and overcooked rice. This is a pale imitation of Chinese cuisine.

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  • Having been a frequent customer over the years, the last two visits have left a bitter taste. I hope these are not signs of things to come. Food left a lot to be desired. Poor if you cannot even get the rice right.

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  • Yay! I am so glad I tried Red Chamber again. I had an iffy experience last year and wasn't keen on returning. But we gave it a try and the food was great! Soups were nice and the prawn toast delicious. And the manager gave us a little advice on what we would like - crispy beef with garlic and chilli. Delicious. Happy to go back again.

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  • I go eat here every Friday night. The food is consistently fantastic! The service is sometimes slow, but what the heck! The food makes up for it!

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  • So disappointing. The fried wontons were overcooked, the main courses all tasted the same - flavourless. Service - patronising and slow. Could have done it better in my own kitchen.

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  • We've been regulars since the Red Chamber was still in Rosebank. Lately when we go on a Friday night, we were told that we should really book. (Even so, knowing us as regular customers they never turned us away.) So about two weeks ago I called and booked a specific table. When we arrived, I was told that we were to sit at a small table in a corner. I reminded them that I booked and there was a reserved notice on the table I requested and not one on the table where they now wanted to seat us. The lady told me that I have double booked the other table and could not sit there. It did not make sense and I said that we will leave, which we did vowing not to go there again. Today we had no choice as my sister invited us for lunch at RC. The service was poor and the food not up to the usual good standard. I have noticed over the past few years that Emma is hardly ever there and it is now starting to show. If you neglect your regular customers, you can only go downhill.

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  • Having eaten at Red Chamber several times and thoroughly enjoyed it, to say that we were disappointed this last weekend was a great understatement. We chose Prawn toasts & Wanton to start. The prawn toasts were wonderful, however, the wanton tasted distinctly of sausage meat and not of finely spiced, minced pork. The sauce which accompanied the wanton had a certain ketchup taste which was really rather unpleasant. Has the recession hit Red Chamber? This restaurant is definitely off our to visit list for the foreseeable future.
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  • This Chinese restaurant really breaks the mold, the interior is actually warm and inviting, unlike most Chinese restaurants, and the menu has far more to offer than the usual sweet & sour or chow mein. Service is usually fast, efficient and unobtrusive. The food is so packed with flavour, my mouth is watering as I sit here thinking about the Brinjal and Pork Mince dish. You really should go eat here with a group of people so that you can share a number of the amazing starters and mains because this restaurant has so much to offer you might feel terribly torn if you are only able to pick one item for yourself.
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  • Ate here on Sunday 11th April 2010 for lunch with a party of three.We had a selection of starters including prawn toasties, pork dumplings, pot stickers, deep fried seaweed, prawn dumplings. They were all delicious!The mains were the pork with black bean and garlic, diced chicken with black pepper and the crispy duck. They were as well executed as the appetisers but overall pretty tasty.Lunch filled up quickly and I think the kitchen and service was pushed a bit. We got in earlier so this didnt detract from our meal.This is really good Chinese and it saves one a trip to Derrick Ave.Ill be back again!
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  • I recently read an article written in Taste magazine, and could not wait to eat at the Red Chamber. My husband & I ate there on Saturday, and we were both thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We usually frequent Japanese restaurants & as yet, had not discovered a Chinese restaurant that appeals to us, until now. We loved the food & will definately be dining there again. Highly recommended!
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • Takeaways
  • Vegetarian
  • Wheelchair

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