More casual than its almost-upstairs sibling Chefs Warehouse and Canteen, Street Food delivers just what its name promises. Offering everyday Asian staples of stir-fried rice and noodles, Liam Tomlin’s hole in the wall boxes up fresh, tasty lunches for you to eat at the counter or take back to the office.
You could read the daily menu of what’s on offer, or just point to what you’d like in the glass display case and go from there. While one of the options (Singaporean chicken and noodles) is housed in a white folded cardboard container – just like Chinese takeout in the movies – the rest of the dishes on the day are sadly sold in plastic boxes.
Try the pork pot stickers for R12 apiece (which are very tasty, if a little gluey) or opt for one of the more substantial dishes. In the first dish we try, small cubes of tender pork belly rest on a bed of fried rice and vegetables with a sprinkling of crispy onion, the textures and flavours of which play together very nicely. If you’re feeling naughty, opt for the triple-fried chicken and rice. The fried rice is not particularly exciting and the batter is quite plain – a bit of spice wouldn’t have gone amiss – but the super-crunchy outside makes up for it. Next we sample pretty, translucent rice paper rolls filled with fine glass noodles and vegetables and served with a tangy, fresh cucumber salad and peanut satay sauce. It tastes fresh, lively and well balanced – and great value for just R40.
After lunch, succumb to your inner voice of temptation (or, in our case, the coercive whispering of the barista behind the counter) and grab some nutty date balls or some of the superlatively chocolatey brownies before you walk back out into the daylight. There are churros, too, but they’re sold sans chocolate dipping sauce, which baffled us a little. After all, churros are simply a vehicle for chocolate, no?
Order a freshly squeezed seasonal juice (naartjie on the day of our visit) or grab a coffee made by the quirky bearded barista.
You might miss the doorway from Bree Street, especially if you’re intent on getting a table at Chefs Warehouse for lunch, but once you’re inside you could be in another city, country and hemisphere. The low-ceilinged dimness is lifted somewhat by beautiful blonde wood counters and a hatch which allows some light to stream in. Stacks of bamboo steamers and multi-cultural food market snaps on the walls hint at the fare served here. The entrance can get a little crowded when people are ordering, paying and waiting for their coffee and food – all in the same spot right by the door – but it sort of adds to the sociable street food vibe.
Food is readymade and the staff behind the till are friendly enough, if a little off the wall. Grab your chopsticks, plastic cutlery and napkins on the counters before you tuck in.
While it would seem that buzzing Bree Street, with its numerous coffee shops and burger joints, hardly needs a new eatery, Street Food manages nicely to fill the gap for delicious and exciting takeaway lunches.