Twice in as many weeks, friends from KZN and I have crossed the threshold of Beijing Opera for dim sum (and then some) that I had to put my love for it on record. As with many of Cape Town’s premiere food establishments that have roots as something else entirely, in this case, a sporadic pop-up dinner club, this full-fledged restaurant recently celebrated its anniversary having opened in early-2014 to the who’s who of fashion, creative arts and hipster elite spilling out onto up-and-coming Rose Str. in de Waterkant. Well-known socialite and foodie, Yhang Zao, a friend from way back in Jozi, undoubtedly takes the well-earned Dim Sum Queen Crown in this Mother City of ours.
Often with small operations like this, consistency is the downfall, however, that is never the case with Beijing Opera. While the fresh produce is made daily, the fact that it’s made offsite doesn’t harm the quality (but rather adds to the romantic notion of a group of aged grannies sitting around a table twisting and prodding the dim sum like back in the old country); the wonton soups and broths have a flavour profile and layering that takes skill to perfect. Everything from the seating at the restaurant to how the dim sum is served screams: “discovery, friendship and sharing”.
What makes the offering quite unique is that the innovative founder has dotted the menu with both authentic dim sum dishes that are popular in China, like doughy pork buns, steamed prawn and chives parcels and pork and chives potstickers, and more experimental options with unusual fillings, like pepper, chilli shrimp or peanut and pork. Rumour has it that in the future, Yang plans to increase the responsibly sourced, fresh, local ingredients that give the Chinese experience with quintessentially South African ingredients which are used in Yang’s own recipes.
I see a table coffee book in the future filled with recipes, polaroid photos of the dishes, people and happiness that this restaurant generates effortlessly. While Beijing Opera is not a cheap dining experience, it’s worth the wait while everything is made fresh and to order. The bill is always presented, as with everything, a smile and genuine interest when they ask you “did you enjoy your meal?”
But more so, when you dine at Beijing Opera you’re not just experiencing a Theatre of South Chinese food. You’re experiencing Yang’s dreams that have transcended the night into the daylight and onto your plate.