A fluffy soufflé pancake (or two) at Torii at Tjing Tjing House
Asian Street Food at Lucky Bao Restaurant in Hout Bay
Experience a burst of flavours from the East at this eight-seater food bar
Perched on Hout Bay’s Main Road just before the start of the famed Chapman’s Peak Drive is an unassuming building called Pam Arlene Place. It’s home to the well-known restaurant Cheyne’s and, as of October 2015, is now also the location of fresh new eatery Lucky Bao, which, although tiny (it accommodates a maximum number of eight guests), opens up a large exotic culinary world to those who are eager to explore it.
Conceptualised by chef Cheyne Morrisby (he’s also the founder of Cheyne’s), the recently launched diner serves up hot, fast Japanese and Chinese eats in an over-the-counter bar set-up for both lunch and dinner. The joint treats palates to what Cheyne calls a ‘Pacific Rim’ style of cooking, which he picked up and perfected during his expansive career in London (he spent over 12 years there) as well as while visiting parts of Asia and other far-off lands. In a nutshell, Lucky Bao is a melting pot of Oriental flavours that seeks to delight the taste buds of its curious visitors.
There are different culinary goings-on at different times of the week. From Monday to Wednesday, guests can order off a small menu that features street-style eats like bao, a traditional Chinese steamed bun with fillings like grilled pork belly or soft-shell crab; and yakitori, a Japanese skewered food dish that comes in a variety of flavourful coatings). There are also sides like nori-dusted fries and slaw with mandoline-sliced roots and green chilli mayo as well as Eastern-style shakes (think strawberry and miso or coconut cream, banana and matcha) and iced green tea.
Thursday evenings, on the other hand, are reserved for specialty Ramen and Burger Nights, during which guests can slurp up the noodle delicacy (with chopsticks in hand) or bite into Asian-style patties in a relaxed atmosphere.
Friday and Saturday nights then make way for a more intimate and sophisticated culinary journey called the ‘Lucky Six’, which invites groups of eight to book out the venue for an evening to enjoy a secret six-course dinner. “With a lucky packet, you’re never really sure what you’re going to get until you’ve opened it,” explains Cheyne. “The same goes for this experience. I create any Asian meal I want to and surprise you as we go along.” The flavourful suppers are accompanied by complimentary wine pairings and the night is generally quite an occasion.
Part of the appeal is the fact that diners have a direct view of the stove and so get a front row seat to watch how meals are prepared. Similarly, they are free to ask questions and interact with the chef. “It’s the age of culinary craziness and people are now even more interested in food than before,” explains Cheyne. The ambience also adds to the attraction of the concept- neon blue lighting illuminates the bar and shines on the seating and low-hanging lights give the food a warm glow.
Ultimately, those who are always on the hunt for something fresh and exciting on Cape Town’s cuisine scene should definitely take note of this Little Asian hub in the midst of Hout Bay.
Tip: Since the restaurant can only seat a maximum number of eight guests, it’s essential to book it out if you want the private dinner experience.
The Bill: The ‘Lucky Six’ dining experience costs R600p/p (this includes wine). Items on the regular menu are reasonably priced. Traditional bao ranges from R45 to R55; yakitori is priced at R65 and sides range from R35 to R40. Asian shakes ring in at R45 and iced green tea costs a steady R20.
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 12pm – 3pm (Lunch); Monday – Saturday: 5pm – 10pm (Dinner)
1 Pam Arlene Place | Main Road | Hout Bay | +27 (0) 79 067 4919
by Dudu Luthuli
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