Review: Dawn in De Waterkant offers a delicious dive into upmarket Chinese fare

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Fast facts

Restaurant name: Dawn 晓 Asian Restaurant

Address: Shop 26, Cape Quarter, 27 Somerset Road, De Waterkant (entrance in Jarvis Street)

Phone number: 069 615 9537

Opening times: Mondays to Thursdays 11am to 10pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11am to 10.30pm

Average price of a main course: R170 to R250

Corkage fee: R50 wine, R80 bubbles

Parking situation: Undercover parkade or street

Food type: Chinese/Asian

Gather your friends for a fabulous feast of convivial sharing, mark it down as a date night option (whether it’s your first or your 100th), or even pop in on your own for a sneaky bowl of ramen and a cocktail at the bar.


Dawn positions itself as “Cape Town’s first upmarket Chinese dining destination” with “authentic flavours of Chinese cuisine meticulously crafted by talented chefs”. The menu is extensive and while the Chef’s Recommendations section comprises the pricier and presumably bigger items, it’s a breeze to put together a massive sharing menu of dim sum, small plates, rice and noodle dishes without melting the credit card. Plus, even those portions are large.

The standout dish of the seven (not counting dessert) ordered was the Eggplant Medley. Now, a word of warning about the chilli. Many dishes contain it, and it’s indicated on the menu with a little chilli graphic. The welcome snack is a bowl each of cucumber and seaweed. The waiter was honest and said they were burny. The crunchy-coated eggplant does not have a chilli graphic although it’s in the description. People, it is burny with large pieces of easily identifiable chilli in the sweet and sticky syrupy sauce. However, even if you are heat-sensitive, it’s not too overpowering and the dish in its entirety is so scrumptious a little bit of pain can be endured or even overlooked.

The green onion flower rolls from the dim sum section of the menu were impressive in size; even though the pops of green were few, the flavour carried through the dough. They were joined by deep-fried pork and shrimp wontons, then followed by crispy pork belly with subtle five-spice seasoning and egg yolk pumpkin. Bit of a strange one, that, with the egg being the predominant flavour, but it was happily notched up as having “tried something new and different”. ‘Main’ courses were dry mixed ramen, and a spectacular plate of noodles with that smoky flavour you only get in Chinese or Asian restaurants or takeaways, with vegetables and duck for the remarkable price of just R128. Like most Chinese menus everywhere you can order by number.

There are two desserts to finish: a stylised ‘signature’ tiramisu with the taste of tiramisu but unconventionally presented, and cheesecake tofu with coconut milk, sago, peach yoghurt and red beans – very authentic, very tasty apparently, but no good for Instagram. Overall, an excellent and most delicious meal.



A range of wines, cocktails, spirits and beer is available as well as soft and non-alcoholic drinks.


Service is wonderfully friendly from the moment you walk in and are greeted. Avory Louw knew his stuff and was able to advise and describe dishes on the menu that were mysterious and intriguing. Food came to the table quickly. The front-of-house manager made frequent turns at the table to check everything was in order.


Dawn is a bit of an odd zig-zaggy shape (it was previously Jenny Morris’s cookery school). There are two approaches: one via the Cape Quarter mall, which you probably won’t find unless you know about it – and know your way around hands-down the most confusing parking garage in Cape Town; and from the street, which is way more convenient. You’re greeted by a wishing water feature and large floating bamboo koi (in the air, not in the pond). Tables closest to the entrance can be a bit draughty, but beyond that it’s cosier, with a huge central bar area and seating at tables and booths around that, and an open pass to the kitchen. Red, being a lucky colour in Chinese culture, features in various accents, from tableware to lampshades to walls.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here

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