Cape Town’s hottest young chefs are exploring a different style of dining with their exuberance for street-style chow. There’s a strong shift away from the stuffy settings of fine dining establishments to more casual yet refined eateries with an emphasis on street food – and it’s pretty damn delicious.
Here are three flavourful, street food-esque spots in Cape Town worth taking a bite out of:
1. TJINGTJING TORII
The laid back, ground floor of TjingTjing House, Torii, serves up casual Japanese street food – the likes of which can be found in one of Japan’s many yokocho (alleyway) eateries.
Expect buttery miso chicken ramen, and sticky pork belly steamed buns. A special mention must go to its Atsui Dog, an absolutely cracking all-beef sausage served in a milk bread bun, topped with kewpie mayo, kimchi, hot sauce and strips of nori – it’s a wonderfully creative and clever twist on the classic hotdog.
End off the meal with a selection of mochi or a decadent Japanese cheesecake with miso caramel.
• 165 Longmarket St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8001, 021-422-4374 / 422-4920
2. THE MELTING POT CAFETERIA
Chef John van Zyl, previously at the helm of Liam Tomlin’s Indian-tapas eatery Thali, returned from his travels and wowed Cape Town with his The Melting Pot pop-up. Now onto its second iteration, the concept has found a permanent home in the form of The Melting Pot Cafeteria.
This minimalist space sees van Zyl take his global street food-inspired cuisine to the next level. van Zyl is careful not to label his style of cuisine, which works to his advantage – the world is his playground, and this is represented on the plate.
Dishes include fried fish tacos, gorgeous tuna tataki and his own iteration of a Brick Lane bagel. It’s all about bold, deep flavours that take the diner on a culinary journey down the world’s most interesting streets whether it be Vietnam or New York.
• 64A Wale St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, 071-525-8875.
3. THE COMMISSARY
The Commissary – brainchild of The Shortmarket Club powerhouse duo Chef Wesley Randals and manager Simon Widdison – is the epitome of convivial cool.
Think communal tables, ever-changing menus and graffiti by street-artist extraordinaire Skullboy.
When it comes to food, start with the Thai-inspired oysters in a nahm jim dressing. It hits all the sweet, salty, sour and spicy spots just right – it’s a proper exercise in flavor. The lobster rolls are the stuff of legends, and the Anthony Bourdain slider – a great homage to the late kitchen rebel and inspired by “Tony’s ultimate classic burger” – is a must try, too. Make sure to keep some space for dessert (whether it’s the Zoo Biscuit nice cream (made with liquid nitrogen), or a glorious hot-out-the-oven cookie), you won’t be sorry.
The Commissary is flavor-forward and fun, managing to serve up seriously good food without being too serious.
• The Commissary, 88 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, 072-449-3697.