I love sushi. I also love dim sum and while the former maybe greatly appreciated across South Africa, I fear that dim sum is not given its due. I’ve always thought that this may be, in part, due to the distinct lack of really great dim sum to be found in and around. That said, we do have a couple places which serve up some really impressive dim sum. In Cape Town, I implore you to try the quirky vibes of I <3 Laundry, a laundromat which has dim sum, art exhibitions and a fondue. You can probably get your laundry done there too but I can’t say I’ve done that.
In Johannesburg, dim sum is more freely availaible. The owners of Wolves have taken it upon themselves to further the cause by opening up the Good Luck Club in Illovo, when I’ve tried it, I’ll let you all know. What I have tried, and what I cannot get enough of is KOI.
In my varsity days, good sushi and fresh seafood were freely avaliable. Anyone whose ever lived in Cape Town can speak to the amazing seafood you can get pretty much anywhere. I was spoilt for life by the sushi cheap and prolific in the city, heck I even lived above one of the most popular sushi joints around.
Alas when I moved up to the concrete jungle, I didn’t just have to bid adieu to the beach, care free student life and all the quirk of Observatory, I also had to forgoe my sushi. Or so I thought…
Well no, Joburg sushi can’t compete with Cape Town sushi despite valiant attempts. My closest connection is KOI, a asian seafood resturant nestled in the Firs, attached to my usual home of Rosebank. That said, their dim sum is something to behold.
I would suggest you go with a friend and have the Dim Sum platter, 8 pieces of deliciousness consisting of a prawn puff, spinach & feta dumplings, chicken & ginger dumplings and prawn & shitake mushroom. My personal favourites are the prawn puff with spinach & feta also holding its own. Yes, I know it’s not a particularly traditional steamed dim sum but I think that’s what I kind of love about it.
The dim sum comes with the most amazing ginger sauce, don’t be shy to demand an extra bowl or two, it will make everything better.
After revelling in the dim sum, take a moment to figure out what next. My recomendation: stick to starters. The most amazing things on the menu can be found on the first two pages; waygu sliders (I’m a sucker for the waygu), asian tacos (the duck with coconut is unbelievable!) and prawn & cheese springrolls (taking me back to my Salushi days) will have you set and stuffed.
The sides are also pretty great. You can have your Waygu sliders with Waygu Garlic Potatoes (pictured above because I had to do it) or enjoy stir-fried greens with sesame and miso.
However, you came here for the fish right? Well look no further than the sashimi salad. Yup, I went there. It’s deconstructed, elegant and incredible. Yes, it does feel like a cop out to go out just for salad but this one will not disappoint. Alternatively, have the sushi. If you’re looking for something a little different, have the Rock Shrimp California Rolls. They will set you back a pretty penny but boy, are they gorgeous. The rainbow rolls are also fantastic, I have no idea how KOI is able to obtain such fresh fish but these are Joburg Problems.
Alternatively, if you came for something substantial and cooked, the Peking Duck is phenomenal. While the pancakes are not perfectly transparent, the rich plum sauce and perfectly seasoned duck flew me right back to Beijing. The only other main I did try was the calamari and…look the other stuff is so amazingly novel, odd and delicious that your normal “boring” seafood just doesn’t stand a chance. Dim sum and waygu for me thanks!
Of course, you should accompany all of this with a pot of one of their amazing teas. I went for Oolong because I can’t resist a good Oolong. (Gosh, I know I’m being pretentious but it’s good stuff!). Alternatively you can try something more South African with a Rooibos blend.
KOI does have a delightfully varied and equally exotic dessert menu but after all the dim sum and sushi, I never have space. If you do manage the discipline to save space, let me know what you tried from the menu, maybe it will provide motivation for me to save space for dessert!
Of course, the downside is that this all comes with a hefty-ish price tag. While it won’t be a MacDonald’s level meal, it’ll be slightly steeper than going to Mug & Bean, definitely worth the tag.
Verdict: Dim Sum, Sushi, Oolong and Waygu, these are a few of my favourite things. Give them a try and perhaps you’ll feel the same.