One of Joburg’s most exciting food experiences, an entrancing sequence of delicious dishes prepared before you by the inimitable Su-yen Thornhill.
It’s not a Chinese restaurant and it’s not typically degustation. Su-yen is part Chinese and her culinary leanings are fused with the tastes of greater Asia, Spain, France, Africa and even South America. The menu changes often because what’s freshest, seasonal and most locally procurable does too. The tastes of the dishes rely on that super freshness, as in the salsa that accompanies crumbed crab meat ‘lollipops’ on the claw. An egg-drop soup is lush with premium ingredients, from its stock and birds onwards. It’s slowly prepared with the depth of long-cooked mushrooms, corn and swirl of noodles, egg of course and that perfect, barely discernible small pool of chicken fat to ensure a luxurious and perhaps best chicken soup of a lifetime. If you’re going for dessert, the caramelised whisky banana serves as a taste and texture foil for the refreshing, fruity-juicy pops of palm sago.
It’s easy to see, if sitting at the counter, the quality of the beef or pork, being cut for flash-cooking and view the engaging presentation. The place is always booked into the next months and there’s a high rate of appreciative returning diners. When booking, dietary needs are taken into account and vegetarians, vegans are beautifully catered for. Su-yen’s panache with fusing flavours and the freshest of everything is a pleasure to witness and then, of course, to consume.
People are delighted to take their own drinks to this kind of meal and, of course, Asian drinks work well. So does local champagne; even dry cider.
Lovely glasses are provided for various drinks. Service is essentially Su-yen herself and, lately, Carla Farina, both high energy participants in something between theatre and party. They are also the living menus and describers of dishes. Payment is made while booking.
Chez Fong is located in a stone room at the end of a stately home’s veranda, with a staggering view in summer, but is cosy with gas lamps and window covers in winter. The cooking is all done on the other side of a wide counter and if you enjoy watching the cooking, book at the counter rather than at the chairs around tables on the floor. Su-yen is a fun raconteur.
Diners are of all ages and are fairly well-heeled. They make create what sounds like a hell of a party by the end of the evening, with Su-yen adding to the merriness.
A dedicated evening of delight. Many people celebrate anniversaries here and there are parties of eaters who have been before, introducing new friends to the Wednesday feast.
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