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The notion of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant is bandied about so freely at every diminutive space in Cape Town, but really none is truly more authentic in its alluring hole-in-the-wallery as South China Dim Sum. Championing fuss-free dining well ahead of the craze, the tiny spot with martial arts poster clad walls and an open kitchen categorically serves up the finest dim sum in the entire city.
Expect a stellar street food inspired eating experience cajoled by the tastes, sights and scents of China. The unique culinary art of ‘dim sum’ originated in China as a snack break intended to be shared much like the Southern European eating style of tapas. True to tradition, dishes at South China Dim Sum are made to order and served in order of whatever is ready first. Star dishes include dumplings and the ubiquitous beef, lamb and chicken pot stickers - all served in threes, so couples are advised to play a game of dibs or order portions in twos. Personally, I’ve been known to visit South China just to indulge in countless portions of the addictive Beef Potstickers with Chinkiang black vinegar as well as the steamed Har Gow of translucent wheat and tapioca dumplings stuffed with prawns, water chestnuts and spring onions.
Along with vegetarian options, more substantial dishes such as noodles or steamed buns are available. But none will smack your gob quite like the braised beef short rib - a tender hunk of meat smothered in hoisin, chilli and star anise served on a mound of fragrant jasmine rice.
A puzzling mystery is why no bigger fuss is made about South China Dim Sum's ever-changing array of ice-creams flavours - leave room for a scoop or two.
A limited yet well-pairing wine and beer menu exists, with an edgy focus on garagiste or lesser known wines. It's also a teetotallers' paradise with a wide variety of Chinese teas and cocktails that come with or without alcohol such as the refreshing Shanghai Ice-Tea - vodka optional.
A perfect blend of relaxed and attentive. Due to the nature of the dishes being served as-and-when ready, even when the place is teeming you're never left unattended for any extended periods.
Like any successful repurposing project, South China is both pared down and characterful at the same time. The functional decor sees wooden-crates topped with rich Chinese fabrics to create a deliberately unassuming aesthetic - this ensures zero focus is taken off the moreish morsels of dim sum to come. Always ask about the special of the day, if you're in lucky they might have the Cantonese fish noodle soup - a bowl of Guangzhou goodness not to be missed.
Stellar Chinese Street Food.
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