For real-deal Chinese food, you can't go wrong with Fong Mei in Cyrildene (aka Chinatown). For some reason, most people ignore its brightly-coloured, buzzing florescent sign and head to the more popular Fisherman's Plate next door - but they're missing out. Unlike Fisherman's Plate, you generally won't find hoards of white people in Fong Mei - this is where Chinese families go to gather and celebrate.
Food: Great tasting, home-style Chinese cooking, from stir-fries to 'crabs' hot pots.
Service: Very friendly and the wait isn't too long, despite the place only having two staff members. The manager tries his broken-English best to make you feel welcome.
Atmosphere: Simple Chinatown charm. Gets lively over the weekends, especially if there are groups of Chinese families at nearby tables.
The manager is incredibly amiable and he makes you feel like a regular, even if you don't go there that often. Granted, the food isn't phenomenal (you could probably find better and more exotic options in Chinatown), but it's tasty and filling does-what-it-says kind of fare. My favourites include the chicken cashew stir-fry (R65) and the beef chow mein (R45).
If you're looking for an unusual (and great tasting) dish, however, try the Singapore fried noodles (R55). Made with chilli spice, prawns and pork, this noodle dish will satisfy if you find soya sauce-based Chinese food a little monotonous (and if you're in need of a little hotness in your mouth). It must also be said that all the dishes go down even better with a cold can of Tsingtao beer (old-school, '80s-style opening tabs included).
The restaurant itself is small and cosy, and the plastic chairs and table covers add to its authentic, slightly gritty downtown-in-Chinatown vibe. Be sure to come here with a group of friends, because most tables have lazy-Susans and portions are large. Chinese food is communist in nature after all so it's always meant to be shared.
What: Standard Chinese fare without bells and whistles. It just tastes good.
Where: 18C Derrick Avenue, Cyrildene, Johannesbur
Why: Come here for authentic Chinese dishes. It's also one of the few places in Derrick Avenue that has an English/Chinese menu - no bravado needed.
Tel: 011 615 1384
by Ang Lloyd