Momo Baohaus – Newest kid on Greenside’s block, Momo Baohaus has been steamrolling Jo’burg foodies with its fresh ingredients and Asian flavours in buns, bowls and sushi. Opened by brothers Tim and Lawrence Lai, the date-night friendly contemporary interiors have warm wooden accents softening the screed floors and exposed brick wall. Hailed as the city’s best new Asian for good reason, share with as many people as possible, not missing the Chairman Bao, Szechuan or Seoul bowls and Asian slaw salad. Suiting all diets and with warm lighting and good bars nearby, this is definitely where you’ll want to draw out a dinner. Close the evening with the deep fried buns and hit repeat on this restaurant as often as you’re able.
The Great Eastern Food Bar – This long-standing Melville institution has been playing with food fusions for a long time now, expertly nailing classic ramen dishes and constantly innovating their menu. Owners Graciela and Carolina Rasenti repeatedly hit all of the right flavour combinations with winter dishes to try such as the newly introduced spicy lime jalapeno chicken ramen or sweet and sour deep fried cauliflower. Their wine and Asian spirits list alone is worth visiting for.
Pron – More than two decades after opening the upmarket Red Chamber, Emma Chen delivered her next knock out in the form of Pron. Though by no means new anymore, The People’s Republic of Noodles focuses more strictly on Chen’s Chinese roots. Divided into tapas and noodle submenus, the dishes are delicately balanced in flavour, true to tradition and perfect for winter.
Three Wise Monkey – ‘I’ve always followed food trends from around the world and got introduced to ramen when it took off in the US in 2011,’ says Ricky Simon. There was nothing like it in South Africa then, and the idea stuck with me.’ Serving up dishes like shiitake and miso broth ramen and rice beer brewed in partnership with local craft beer company, Old Potters Inn and Brewhouse, this is some of the best bowl food in the city.
YUZU – When Rikku O’Donnchu had his arm twisted into coming to SA, he ended up falling in love with Cape Town, and creating Yuzu with his business partners. The Kloof Street gastro bar is a Japanese-American fusion with dishes like ribs, wings and ramen: healthy, warming and high energy.
Hokey Poke – Owner Max Botha visited Singapore last year and his first meal there is what we now owe his poke spot to. Botha brought the concept to life in a Miami dive bar style. ‘It’s a really cool alternative to cooking sushi but with a whole other fusion of flavours. With bowl food there’s so much room to play. Because there are so many incredible flavours and styles, I think there’s a lot we haven’t tried or brought here yet.’
Shio – One of the pioneers of experimenting with flavours of the East, Cheyne Morrisby’s third restaurant Shio (after Cheyne’s and Lucky Bao) sits in De Waterkant and focuses on modern Japanese cuisine. Order wave upon wave of the tapas food platings, not missing the pork belly chashu or crispy duck and share them with your table under the red glow of neon sign wall art and Hokusai-inspired art.