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Cheyne Morrisby is no stranger to the Cape Town food scene – his eponymous first restaurant, Cheyne’s in Hout Bay, has consistently been a favourite spot for foodies all over the city and his follow-up restaurants, Lucky Bao and Shio, have been equally as popular. The latest installment to the Cheyne empire is Ding Dong bar, which has taken over the small space previously occupied by De Waterkant’s Lucky Bao outpost. (The name comes from the lightbulb-like moment of triumph when a chef nails a dish.) The formula at Ding Dong is much the same: small plates of Japanese-inspired dishes with fun cocktails.
As we’ve come to know from Cheyne’s, the Asian-inspired food here is punchy, full-flavoured and fairly tongue-in-cheek. Everything is intended to be shared, so start off with a yellowtail sashimi that comes with liquid kimchi and a coconut-and-lime dressing. Also served is a crisp, ideal for scooping up every morsel of the freshly sliced fish and zingy dressing. Counteracting this crisp start is the ultimate greasy bar snack in the form of Kewpie potato crisps with furikake dressing: a hand-cut potato crisp drizzled with Kewpie mayo and sprinkled with furikake for an umami-packed, moreish snack.
On the bao side of things, the ‘Bao Chikka Boa’ quite simply can’t be skipped, with juicy chicken encased in crispy dried ramen noodles (as weird as this sounds, it’s actually very good) doused with a spiced gochujang mayo. Vegetarians won’t go without, as the tempura tofu bao is equally tasty with the satisfying lightly fried tofu, which is wedged into a bao and sauced with garlic aïoli.
If you’ve got space for dessert, the Ding Dong sundae sounds like it’s worth the visit all on its own, with white sesame ice cream covered in a black sesame and tonka bean chocolate sauce, berries and sugared wontons.
The cocktails are the real drawcard here, with their play on a Moscow Mule – rum and sochu muddled with fresh ginger and gingerbeer – giving quite the kick. The Shi cocktail makes for considerably lighter drinking, with Jack Daniel’s, litchi and lime juice marrying with MCC. The resulting drink is refreshing and goes down a real treat.
The service is relatively laid-back, which is great as you don’t feel like you’re being observed by a helicopter waiter. However, when it comes to explaining the concept and even dishes as they’re served, this laid-back service feels a little lacking.
The location of Ding Dong (underneath the Grey Hotel, facing the Cape Quarter) allows you to sit out on the street and watch the passing parade, which has a real European feel to it. These outward-facing seats really are prime real estate, though, as the restaurant’s interior can feel a little cramped. If you’re not up for the bathroom situation, head upstairs to Shio’s bathrooms, which are very pleasant.
Sharing small plates of Japanese-inspired dishes and cocktails.
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