South China Dim Sum Bar – Cape Town’s dumpling heaven

How I love a dim sum feast. Consequently I was totally delighted when friends recommended the South China Dim Sum Bar. It’s right at the top of Cape Town’s Long Street (close to the Mountain).

Long Street is a mix of bars, coffee bars, souvenir shops and random other shops, youth hostels and book shops. As a result it’s a busy, interesting road, also known for its attractive Victorian buildings with their wrought iron balconies.

First of all we popped in at The Dubliner for a quick pint (they serve Kilkenny Irish ale on tap). My Irish roots appreciate that it seems like there’s an Irish welcome in a bar everywhere in the world.  A refreshing beer and time to head for some much needed Dim Sum treats.

South China Dim Sum Bar is an understated sort of establishment. It’s a long, narrow room and you sit at small tables on crates or stools – not unlike a lot of the places we experienced recently in Vietnam. The place was buzzing with activity when we arrived and we got the last available table.

There’s a good selection of dim sum as well as a soup and salad option. Must go back to try out their Thai papaya salad – one of my all-time favourites. Today we decided to go for a sampling of the dim sum – gotta get the full picture after all.

Dumplings are served up on paper plates (there’s no frills here), piping hot and obviously freshly made. The chicken wontons came with a spicy Szechuan dressing. And you’re also given a little bowl of soya, hoisin and chilli sauces for extra dipping.

South China Dim Sum Bar

Chicken wonton with spicy Szechaun sauce

My favourites of our order were the beef and lamb potstickers. I love their crunchy outside and they were packed with flavoursome meat.

South China Dim Sum Bar

Beef potstickers with black vinegar

The Har Gow were beautifully soft and packed with fresh prawns, while the Sui Mai offered a delightfully rich combination of pork and shiitake mushroom.

South China Dim Sum Bar

Delightful prawn and pork parcels

South China Dim Sum Bar

The trio of dipping sauces

South China Dim Sum Bar

Lamb potstickers with spicy yogurt

Service is friendly and quick and there’s a great atmosphere as people demolish large quantities of some of the best dim sum I’ve ever experienced. In addition, it’s all really great value.

I spotted the cocktail list too late – they all sounded very enticing therefore I will have to have one on my next visit.

Because I’m telling you there will definitely be another time. And soon.

South China Dim Sum Bar

Enjoy an exotic cocktail with your dim sum

South China Dim Sum Bar

The entrance to dumpling heaven

South China Dim Sum Bar

The menu is chalked up on the blackboard

South China Dim Sum Bar

You can watch the activity in the open kitchen

South China Dum Sum Bar

The lovely blue view opposite the restaurant

Today’s price point

And finally…lunch for two (five dim sum dishes and a bottle of wine) cost us R289 which is £18 at today’s exchange rate.

South China Dim Sum Bar is at 289 Long Street, Cape Town

Recipe: Deliciously simple Thai beef

When we were in Thailand recently we had the most wonderful beef mince dish at one of the restaurants in Kata Beach, Phuket. So of course I had to take up the challenge and try to recreate it myself – purely from taste as I didn’t know quite what the ingredients were.

I have to admit to being pleased with my effort, although it wasn’t exactly the same as the other dish, it was certainly good enough in its own right. And so easy to make…you have to give it a try.

I served the mince scooped into lettuce leaves, it would also obviously also work well with rice.


Succulent mince with crispy lettuce and basil

Serves 2

400g beef mince

3 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsps sweet soya sauce

2 tsps fish sauce

1 small red chilli, chopped

200ml beef stock

3 large handfuls of fresh Thai sweet basil, sliced

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mince. Fry for about 5 mins until browned.

Add the soya sauce, fish sauce and chopped chilli. Stir through.

Add a handful of the fresh Thai basil and stir through.

Add the beef stock and simmer, covered, on low for about 30 minutes for the flavours to infuse.

Your mince is now ready to serve, but my advice would be to make it a few hours before and let it sit as it becomes more and more flavoursome the longer you leave it. Then simply heat through when you are ready to eat.

When it is heating through, heat the remaining 2 tbsps of oil in a frying pan. Add the rest of the Thai basil and fry until it is crispy.

Serve your beef in lettuce leaves or with rice, scattered with the crispy fried basil.

The tasty mince simmering on the stove top

The tasty mince simmering on the stove top

Do you have a favourite holiday dish? Have you tried to recreate it at home? I’d love to hear about it, so do get in touch.

The Amoy Blogger Challenge: Barbecue recipes

I love a challenge, so when the people from Amoy asked me if I wanted to take part in their next Blogger Challenge, I couldn’t say no. As it turns out, the challenge involved barbecuing and Asian flavours – two of my favourite things. Throw in a wonderful English summer (long may it continue) and I was ready to go.

Amoy has a range of stir fry sauces, noodles, soya sauces and sticky glazes and I was sent a box of goodies to inspire me. Plenty to ponder over.


The Amoy goodies I was sent to use in my creations

So my imagination ended up working overtime and I came up with four dishes. I decided to use the products imaginatively, for example I used the satay stir fry sauce more as a baste and a dip, which worked really well. And the Soya sauce with garlic and five spice also works well as a baste! Also, salad and side dishes are a vital part of any barbecue for me, so as well as the tasty meat and fish dishes I created, there are a couple of other ideas as accompaniments.

Spicy marinated prawn salad

This dish is a picture in pink and green: marinated prawns on a bed of leaves, radishes and courgette ribbons

Serves two for a light lunch

180g raw, peeled king prawns

For the marinade

2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tsps chopped ginger

1 tbsp light Amoy soya sauce

3 tsps Amoy soya sauce with garlic and five spice

1 tsp sugar

Mix all the marinade ingredients together and pour over the prawns. Mix well and leave to marinate for at least an hour, up to three.


The prawns soak up the flavours of the zesty marinade

For the salad

50g baby pea shoots (or any salad leaves you fancy)

2 large handfuls of fresh mint leaves

1 handful fresh basil leaves

6 radishes, thinly sliced

1 small courgette sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler

Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl.

Barbecue the prawns on a medium to warm barbecue for about two minutes on each side until nicely pink.

Remove from the heat and place on top of the salad.

Pour some of the leftover marinade over the prawns and salad.

My top tips

I love the fact that the marinade doubles up as the dressing for the salad. It tastes amazing and there’s no wastage.

You can use prawns on the shell for this. They do barbecue better and hold their flavour well. I couldn’t find any in the shop on the day and found these ones worked well, too.

I love the baby pea shoots in supermarkets at the moment. Don’t despair if you can’t find any, any sort of leaf will work really.

Raw courgettes thinly sliced and lightly dressed taste amazingly fresh and juicy.


Delicious prawn salad made easy

Crunchy Asian beef salad

Serves 2

1 large sirloin steak

Amoy Chinese barbecue sticky glaze

For the salad

100g bean sprouts

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

4 spring onions, sliced small on the diagonal

2 handfuls salted peanuts

1 handful of chopped coriander

For the dressing

Juice of 2 limes

1 tsp fish sauce

2 dried chillis

A dash of Amoy light soya sauce

1 tsp sugar


Time to get basting

Baste the steak well on both sides with the glaze using a basting brush and leave for about an hour to soak up the flavours.

Barbecue the steak for 3 mins on each side for rare, basting again when it’s on the barbecue.


Cooking alfresco…happiness is me and my steak and my glaze


The finished steak looked so good I had to share a picture

While the steak is cooking, mix together all the salad ingredients except the coriander and peanuts.Toss with half of the salad dressing.

Let the steak rest for a few minutes, then cut into thin slices. Lay over the salad and sprinkle over peanuts and chopped coriander.


My beautifully crunchy salad with the zestiest of chilli dressings

Satay pork

Now this sauce is a stir-fry sauce, but really, what’s the difference between frying and barbecuing? So I thought I’d give it a try. Worked out deliciously.

Makes 2 satays

2 pork steaks, trimmed of fat and bashed until they’re really thin, then cut into long strips.

1 packet Amoy Satay Stir Fry sauce

Brush the strips of pork well with the stir fry sauce.

Then thread onto two skewers. Brush on more sauce and leave for about half an hour.

Barbecue for five minutes on each side.

Couldn’t be simpler! These are great for party snacks.

Top tips

Use the leftover sauce as a dip, it works really well if you warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Flattening the pork makes it amazingly tender. And it’s a great way to get rid of any frustrations after a hard day at work (if you have any)!


Simple satays sizzle away


Cooked and ready to eat

Seared tuna with chilli noodles

Fresh tuna tastes amazing, is really easy to barbecue and it’s good for you! The Amoy Ready for Wok noodles are fabulous to use without the hassle of pre-cooking and they never go stodgy, so you’re guaranteed fresh tasting, light noodles every time.

For the noodles

1 packet Amoy Ready for Wok noodles

Half a yellow pepper, chopped into small pieces

5 spring onions, sliced

1 chilli, chopped

2 tsp Amoy soya sauce with garlic and five spice

2 tbsps sesame seeds, dry fried

1 tuna steak

Brush the tuna with some Amoy sauce with garlic and five spice and leave for about 10 minutes.

Brush it again with the sauce and then with some olive oil.

In the meantime make the noodles. Stir fry the pepper, spring onions and chilli in a little oil for about 5 mins. Add the sauce and gently stir in the noodles. Place them in pan whole, straight from the packet and press down on them gently with the back of a wooden spoon. They will separate beautifully. Stir fry for a few minutes until the noodles soften and heat through, absorbing all the flavours.


Barbecued tuna on a bed of noodles with beautiful mushrooms

Place the tuna on a hot barbecue for about 3 mins on each side. It should still be pink (or red, depending on your taste) inside.

Put the noodles into a bowl, slice the tuna and add on top.

Top tips

I can’t resist the beautiful large flat mushrooms in the supermarkets at the moment. They are perfect barbecued, simply brush with a little olive oil and Amoy garlic and five spice sauce and sizzle. They taste lusciously juicy and flavoursome. I added them to my tuna dish as you can see above.

Experiment with different combinations of vegetables, meat and fish for a range of tasty noodle options.

Well, I certainly think I embraced that challenge! What a lot of yummy dishes we enjoyed. And my imagination is still running with plenty of plans for more Asian-based barbecues. Bring it on!

Let me know what you think of my recipes or about anything exciting you’ve done on the barbecue.

For more information about Amoy visit


Recipe: Asian-style chicken with noodles and a crunchy salad

I love Asian flavours and experiment a lot with different marinades. This one seems to have a lot of ingredients in it, but I have to say it’s one of the nicest I’ve come up with. The chicken was bursting with flavour and the sesame seeds made the perfect finishing touch.

A quick and easy weekday dinner (just remember to marinade the chicken overnight) that is totally delicious.

Serves 2

Luscious chicken sprinkled with sesame seeds

Luscious chicken sprinkled with sesame seeds

For the marinade

Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsps chopped ginger
3 tbsps soy sauce
2 tbsps sesame oil
2 tbsps runny honey
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

2 chicken breasts, sliced into  strips

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsps sesame seeds, dry fried


200g rice noodles, soaked in boiling water, following packet instructions


For the salad

Half a small cucumber, peeled and chopped into chunks
8 radishes, sliced

For the dressing

2 tbsps olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 dried chilli, chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce

Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and place the chicken strips into it, making sure everything is well coated. Leave for at least three hours, overnight ideally.

Make the salad by mixing together all the ingredients for the dressing and pouring over the cucumber and radishes.

Soak the noodles as per the instructions on the packet.

Fry the chicken strips in a hot frying pan for about 10 minutes until browned and cooked through.

Drain the noodles and divide between two bowls, spoon a few spoonfuls of the marinade over the noodles. Top with the chicken strips and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the chicken. Serve with the salad.

The crunchy salad with the zesty dressing

The crunchy salad with the zesty dressing


A lively night out at the legend that’s Nobu

So I’m continuing my journey around London seeking out exciting eating experiences. This week I’m in swish Mayfair at the legendary Nobu.

“You know how kids dream of being soccer players or actors? Well, my dream was to be a sushi chef.” From the minute he walked into his first sushi restaurant, aged 11, Nobu knew what he wanted to do with his life, this story has to be an inspiration to all of us.

Nobu Matsuhisa started as a dishwasher in a restaurant in Toyko. For three years he cleared and washed dishes, cleaned the restaurant and went to the fish market every morning with his boss. He carried the basketload of fish back to the restaurant and cleaned them – every day.

At 24 he was offered a job as a sushi chef in Lima, Peru, spent time in Buenos Aires and Alaska before settling in LA in the late 1970s. In 1987 he opened Matsuhisa in Beverley Hills which very quickly became an LA hotspot frequented by celebs. Here he met Robert De Niro who became a partner in his business and convinced him to open in Tribeca, NYC (De Niro’s neighbourhood) in 1994.

I met celebrity chef Ken Hom once who told me about eating at Nobu in New York (and he knows Nobu personally) and feeling a bit put out that everyone was staring at him. Until his dining companion pointed out that he was sitting next to Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake and no one had the least bit of interest in him! Let’s just say that Nobus around the world are  something of a celebrity magnet. Brad Pitt, Kate Moss and Tom Cruise are regular visitors to the London one and, famously, Boris Becker’s daughter was conceived on Nobu’s stairs one year after he was knocked out of Wimbledon (now that’s another great story!).

So there’s the history – now here’s my Nobu story. When Nobu  opened in London in February 1997 it was the most talked about event in London restaurantland for a long time. It was so far off my food radar and outside of my budget it was, in a different way to Nobu obviously, a dream to ever go there. My friend Christa honeymooned in London and went there shortly after it opened. Her memorable night there stayed with her and when she visited  recently she suggested we  go. Of course I jumped at the chance.

Mayfair on a Saturday night is not a phenomenon I experience frequently. Girls in £1,500 Herve Leger dresses (thanks to Candy the fashion expert among us) with Chanel bags and four-inch heels that they can’t walk in…we witnessed a dramatic trip down the step (yes, one step) with said dress (strapless) heading south. We didn’t spot any celebs but it was certainly buzzing with beautiful people ready for a big night out.

The menu takes some perusing, there’s so much to choose from. You can see the Peruvian influence with dishes like tacos and ceviche, there’s an enormous selection of sashimi and well, just a massive choice of everything. Our waitress told us that food came as it came (we couldn’t specify having the dishes in a particular order)  and everything would be put in the middle of the table to share. Felt a bit like we were being given orders by the Food Police and sorry for you if you didn’t want to share your dish! Anyway, it is a lovely way to eat and taste lots of dishes.


Fresh salmon tacos with a spicy salsa

You could have pretty much tempura anything – we tried the shrimps, snow crab and zucchini (or courgettes as we call them in England).


Snow crab tempura

The beef “toban” yaki was delightful. Beautifully tender with a silken, flavoursome sauce.


Seriously superior beef skewers

This is shitake Kushiyaki, fabulous fresh wild mushrooms with amazing earthy flavours.


Now this is a plate of fried mushrooms

Possibly my favourite dish of the night – amazing scallops. Love the plate, too.


Scallops with pepper sauce

This is a version of Nobu’s signature black cod.


The pork belly was beautiful. Crispy on the top, melt in the mouth underneath with a succulent, sweet sauce.


Crisp pork belly with spicy miso

A night out at Nobu is certainly an invigorating experience. The packed, buzzy restaurant with its amazing cornucopia of dishes and plenty of great tastes to savour, the streets teeming with revellers, girls dressed in skimpy designer frocks (no matter what the weather) and a great energy and spirit in the air. Gotta love London town, it’s all happening here!

Nobu is at 19 Old Park Lane on the first floor of the Metropolitan Hotel.

Nobu has one Michelin star. In May of this year there were 26 Nobus worldwide. Nobu is certainly living his dream!

Asian-style beef salad

This salad is delicious and so easy to make. I like to marinade the steaks for at least a few hours, but if you don’t have time an hour is okay. The combination of salad ingredients varies as I usually put it together with whatever I have in the fridge and pantry.


Serves 2

For the marinade

4 tbsps sweet soy sauce

4 tbsps olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

Dash of fish sauce

Mix the marinade ingredients. Cut any fat off the steak and rub well with the marinade. Cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours.

For the salad

Half a bag of butter lettuce

12 cherry or mini plum tomatoes, halved

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

2 small handfuls of peanuts, dry fried

2 medium sirloin steaks

Assemble the salad. Quick fry the steaks in a hot pan for about 4mins each side. Slice the steak and place on top of the salad.

The salad assembled and waiting to be topped with the beef

The salad assembled and waiting to be topped with the beef

For the dressing

2 tbsps soya sauce

6 tbsps olive oil

A dash of fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp sugar

Mix the dressing and pour over the steak and salad.