‘Love you long time’ is the tagline of Chez Fong, chef Su-yen Thornhill’s Wednesday pop-up dinner experience in Houghton, Johannesburg. It’s not a restaurant but rather a mixture of a kitchen theatre and a party, with eight to ten taster courses that, like the chef herself, are part Chinese. Her culinary heritage is fused with cuisines from Asia, Spain, France, Africa or even Australia in a feast of flavours.
After you’ve secured a booking at the usually sold-out dinners, you take your own wine to the given address at the given time. You arrive at the house with its view from Houghton Ridge and meet the other guests. Then you watch Su-yen at work and get greedier with each course.
The night is entrancing, thanks to the fun chef-hostess and the excellence of the food. If you’re keen to see all the kitchen action, book the counter seat; otherwise, there are tables as in a restaurant.
The ingredients used are organic, seasonal and as locally sourced as possible, and elements are made from scratch – even the hoisin and sauces.
You can look forward to something like Su-Yen’s mum’s twice-cooked chicken soup, with the bird first baked and then cooked with mushrooms, goji berries and dragon-eye fruit (a close relative of the litchi). Octopus could also be on the Chez Fong menu, cooked sous-vide and served Spanish style.
Every Wednesday the food is different anyway – it’s a thrill for both the diner and the creator.
This is why Chez Fong is rumoured to be one of Joburg’s best discoveries since gold.