If you’ve bought dim sum from Edmund Hung and Clinton Ho-Wing’s stall at the Hope Street Market and wished that they had a restaurant, your prayers have been answered. Their South China Dim Sum Bar has recently opened for business at the top of Long Street in Cape Town.
Open for lunch Wednesday to Friday and dinner every day except Mondays, the bar serves a selection of favourite street food from south Asia and its surrounds. A daily-updated blackboard lists the relatively short menu, and your food is made quite literally to order: you can watch it being cooked in the kitchen at the back of this very small restaurant. The ingredients are fresh, and the soy sauce homemade. We knew our potstickers were prepared on site because we’d seen them being moulded by one of the chefs.
There is a range of dim sum to choose from, including steamed buns, wontons, and summer rolls. We started with beef and vegetarian potstickers: fried dumplings stuffed with crunchy vegetables and thinly sliced beef, and served splashed with the Bar’s outrageously tasty soy sauce. At around R30 for three substantial dumplings, this is seriously well priced food. In fact, you could easily stick to a selection of dim sum – particularly for lunch – but we were keen to try their other offerings. A cold sesame noodle salad with peanut sauce came with thin noodles coated in a rich, silky-smooth sauce with just-cooked vegetables. My laksa lemak was absolutely delicious: a spicy coconut noodle broth containing half a hardboiled egg, steamed greens and bean sprouts, and a plump, juicy prawn.
Orders are taken at the counter and décor has been kept to an absolute minimum: chairs are benches or upturned crates, flowers are arranged in jars, and crockery has been replaced with biodegradable plates, bowls, and cups. But for all of that, this is a friendly and buzzy restaurant.
They don’t have a liquor licence, so bring your own. Do try the homemade lemonade and a range of teas (the oolong went down particularly well).
Edmund Hung, a former accountant, and Clinton Ho-Wing, who used to work in IT, wanted to open a restaurant specialising in Southeast Asian street food. Although the restaurant may feel basic, this is a very professional operation, reflecting Hung’s experience in the Canadian restaurant industry.
It’s definitely no frills. There’s no credit card machine and you also need to pick up your own ice at the garage. But the food is fresh, delicious, and amazingly good value. If anything, the simplicity of the décor goes to emphasise just how fantastic the food is. Go.