21 May 2011

Hesheng Chinese Takeaway, Seapoint

Saturday eve found us getting peckish far from home, feeling broke and a little jaded about anything resembling fine dining. And unusually, also not in the mood for baby calamari, prego rolls and beer from Vasco de Gama. A horrible quandary indeed. Fortunately, food obsession came to the rescue, and I remembered a long ago post about an unusually excellent Chinese spot from The Sourcerer.

Hesheng Chinese Takeaway turned out to be everything I could have hoped for.

First, a warning. If you want slick furnishings and service, this is not the place for you. From the outside it looks not unlike the other Chinese places you will pass along Seapoint main road, just smaller, and possibly even tackier. The handful of tables inside are covered in maroon faux leather, and the chairs are an explosion of chintz and polyester lace in shades of light pink. The owner struggles with English. But they are friendly and helpful and everything is spotless. More importantly, there is an extensive and entirely chinese menu. No thai/shushi/anonymousgreasycabbagestirfry on offer at all.

In order not to make myself hungry again, I will not recite the extensive menu, but suffice it to say that the variety of wonderful things on offer was extremely exciting and the occasional lapse of English only served to add ambience. I was slightly taken aback by the prices - at around R50 per dish, I thought that getting a full meal from various small morsels might prove expensive. How wrong one can be. Fortunately we decided to start slowly and ordered pork and shrimp dumplings, hot and sour soup, and a beef noodle stir fry as a first round. Only minutes later, enough food for a family of four arrived and we were in heaven. 

The dumplings were just amazing. Perfectly al dente, clean, clean flavours, perfect morsels of pork and beautiful fresh shrimp, with just a hint of spring onion. The soup a dense black-peppery salty sour contrast, with silky-soft tofu and egg. The stir fry was the only thing resembling typical Chinese take out, but even this was in an utterly different class, really good noodles, perfectly done, full of flavour, not greasy, and generous with asian vegetables and beef.

So much for seems expensive. Two people. R130 bill. Replete and Very Happy. We will be back. Often. To eat our way through the English translated bits until we graduate to the mysterious giant pink post-it wall menu.

Update 9 July 2011

Returned for follow-up meal. It was slightly more of a mixed bag in terms of quality. The spring onion pancakes were a bit thick and doughy in my admittedly entirely Chinese-ignorant opinion. But the dim sum, oh the dim sum! We went for the steamed pork dumplings this time, so simple, so perfect in every way:

The sizzling beef was good, though not wildly exciting. Fortunately I decided to make a real pig of myself and also order the the vegetable and tofu soup. It was gloriously dense with greens and tofu, with just a hint of sesame oil. Don't be fooled by this picture of my third helping - like all the dishes it comes in generous quantities - what seemed like at least a litre of soup in the large bowl brought to table.

Once again, a wonderful eating experience, on a par with meals costing many times as much. Highly recommended.

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