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

A feast of Dim Sum at Royal China

Today I’m heading into the land of Sherlock Holmes for some tasty Chinese cuisine. Not sure if Sherlock ever ambled out of 221B Baker Street for a night of Dim Sum – but I expect he would have liked it – I love a Dim Sum extravaganza. Especially the spread offered at Royal China.

Dim Sum is a style of Cantonese food. The Cantonese are apparently renowned for eating almost everything – including offal, chicken’s feet, snakes and snails. Indeed there are chicken’s feet on the menu at Royal China which I happily passed on. The waitress commented on her puzzlement on eating anything’s feet…she had a point.

Dim Sum means ‘touch the heart’ in Chinese. The small portions of little parcels were said to have been designed to do just that rather than satisfy the appetite. Of course you can just order more and keep going until both your heart and appetite are happy, which of course is what we did. Here’s our sumptuous selection.


Luscious Sichuan-Style chicken creations

The Shanghai pork dumplings need to be eaten with a spoon, so you don’t waste any of the delicious broth inside or cause a bit of a fashion disaster with unplanned dribbling.


The juiciest of pork dumplings


Succulent scallops and plenty of herbs


Fish tempura rolls with delightful crunch


Parcels of the plumpest of prawns

The Iberia pork and wind-dried Chinese sausage buns sounded too good resist. They were amazing. Watch out for that chilli sauce, it’s hot, hot, hot.


Delightful buns and dipping sauce

Today’s price point

We paid £28.65 for these six portions of dim sum which was more than enough for two.

There are six branches of Royal China in London. We visited the one at 24-26 Baker Street.

Square Meal