Did you know that Chinese food has five key flavours that must be balanced according to Traditional Chinese Medicine — sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy? Which largely explains the intricate and unforgivably addictive nature of Chinese and Asian food. Its science – the flavours are designed to have us asking for more. To help direct these urges, here are six of the better Oriental style restaurants in South Africa’s cities.
Red Chamber, Johannesburg
This is an authentic Mandarin restaurant that sits in Hyde Park Corner. You are encouraged to share various dishes, as it is their food philosophy that a good Chinese meal must attain the harmony of taste, texture, colour and aroma. They also have a strict no MSG policy; so if you walk out wanting more, you can be assured it is because of pure goodness. And for something different, there are Chinese beers on the menu too.
Hyde Park Corner, 011 325 6048.
The People’s Republic of Noodles (aka PRON) is owned by the masters behind Red Chamber, which means these Asian food entrepreneurs have the business sewn up! We can’t hold it against them when the food is so good, however, and PRON delivers on the reputation. The noodles are handmade and the menu vast and with something for everyone. If you’re a vegetarian you’ll be thrilled with the options (but do make an effort to try the tofu and cucumber; potato salad with a twist; or the tofu noodles with leek). We also love the tongue-in-cheek décor (shelves lined with Made In China fong kong) amd Asian ingredients for sale.
69 7th St, Linden, 011 782 1736.
Mr. Chan, Cape Town
This Chinese restaurant is the favourite for locals, and Chinese tourists alike. It’s not uncommon to see a tour bus or three parked outside and round tables inside crammed with Asian visitors. You’ll find Cantonese, Peking and Szechuan fare in this famous Sea Point restaurant’s new digs ¬– it recently moved down the street. The set menu comes with dishes such as sesame seed prawns on toast, roast duck Cantonese style and sliced beef with ginger and spring onion.
178 Main Rd, Sea Point, 021 439 2239.
South China Dim Sum Bar, Cape Town
In a little nook on Long Street, South China Dim Sum Bar is an ambient space with the right amount of familiar and the right amount of edge. They have a standard menu mostly offering a variety of steamed and fried dumplings, which goes down well with an Asian beer or a green tea mojito. Yes please! This is the kind of laid back spot where you’ll find groups of friends wolfing down dim sum before they hit the town.
289 Long St, Cape Town City Centre, 021 078 846 3656.
China Plate, Durban
George Hu trained as a master chef in Shanghai and then became a regular chef to President Arap Moi of Kenya. Then having worked under the legendary Peter Chan at the Edward Hotel, George created his own special take on Szechuan cooking, and thus China Plate. Hu’s mastery was recognised in 2014 when the restaurant received a prestigious award for being in the top 500 restaurants in the country. You can get incredibly priced set menus for lunch and dinner, and then a range of fascinating choices from the à la carte menu such as chicken cooked in orange flavoured sauce and lobster in oriental sauce.
12, Park Boulevard Centre, 11 Browns Drift Rd, 031 564 6437.
Greedy Buddha, Durban
Awarded the 2015 certificate of excellence by Tripadvisor, Greedy Buddha is an elegant and trendy Chinese restaurant with an intriguing menu with beautifully coloured tapas and platters. They are also committed to using fresh, carefully sourced and seasonal ingredients to make all of their lovely, Asian inspired dishes. This is a fine dining experience, with moreish Asian twists that will have you panting at the door.
12 Palm Blvd, Durban, 031 566 4383.