Restaurant Review

Pop in to the No 12 pop up to taste some of Jozi's best Asian food

This pop-up restaurant in Westdene offers a constant stream of magic dishes from a team with impressive credentials

29 September 2019 - 00:00 By Janine Walker
Green masala ceviche at No 12, a pop-up eatery in Westdene, Joburg.
Green masala ceviche at No 12, a pop-up eatery in Westdene, Joburg.
Image: Alistair Russell

No 12 is one of Joburg's best-kept secrets - a fabulous and funky pop-up restaurant in a Westdene house serving some of the city's best Southeast-Asian food.

The four-strong team behind this vibey eatery has impressive credentials. No 12's head chef, Nick Scott, was one of the founders of Melville's quirky chicken restaurant Glory and led the kitchen at The Great Eastern Food Bar in the suburb.

He launched No 12 in partnership with Hiren Makkan - as a collaborative platform under Glory - for cooks, chefs, sommeliers and mixologists to bring their game.

When not behind the stove, Makkan - with his Indian- and Japanese-inspired cooking - keeps the front-of-house running.

The No 12 team, from left: Jessie Doveton, Nick Scott and Hiren Makan.
The No 12 team, from left: Jessie Doveton, Nick Scott and Hiren Makan.
Image: Alistair Russell

New to the Joburg scene, Jessie Doveton has joined the Glory kitchen for its No 12 residency as a contributing chef. Her global travels as a private chef have led her to rediscover her Thai roots.

Daniel Arenstein, an architect turned baker, is responsible for the desserts as well as baking the fluffy bao buns.

Glory's Asian-themed menu (aside from desserts) is influenced by its collaboration with specially chosen farmers and suppliers.

Produce from Jong de Jong - who runs a biodiverse farm on the East Rand growing a variety of Asian ingredients including Thai and Vietnamese basil and coriander, lemongrass, white turmeric, galangal, green papaya, eggplant and morning glory - has influenced the menu.

From Chiang Rai, De Jong came to SA in 2001 and later married a South African farmer called De Jong, hence her marvellous moniker.

Says Scott: "Due to our collaboration with small-scale farmers who produce these ingredients, we are able to remain faithful to the spirit of the dishes rather than exactly replicating traditional dishes.

"Our biggest achievement on the menu is the river prawn. We are able to sustainably source freshwater-farmed river prawns and hope to change the public's opinion towards favouring the use of freshwater-farmed ingredients rather than ocean-fished ingredients. River prawns are also considered a more authentic traditional ingredient and we braai them on open coals and serve them with a special Vietnamese green sauce dressing."

Our biggest achievement on the menu is the river prawn ... we hope to change the public's opinion towards favouring the use of freshwater-farmed rather than ocean-fished ingredients
Nick Scott, No 12's head chef

The delicious seven-course tasting menu (which changes according to what ingredients are available) costs a reasonable R350 a person and includes smaller tasters of some of the restaurant's most popular dishes.

The aubergine rice crisp (R55) is a flavour bomb of brinjal with Szechuan pepper, garlic, lime and herbs and the green masala ceviche (R55) is a feast for the eyes and the palate - Cape salmon mixed with lemongrass, lime, chilli and a coriander masala and served in a tuna tin.

The Asian flavours keep coming: from the fiery Som Tam salad (R45) with its green papaya, tomatoes, peanuts and herbs tossed in chilli and tamarind to the sweet and salty Vietnamese fried chicken wings (R55), the South Indian crab curry (R65) and the Pork Sai Au lettuce cup (R50). You can also opt for the braised pork steamed bao (R45) or the Kimchi Bao Dog (R45), an Asian take on the hot dog.

But if there's a dish not to miss it's the caramel-glazed, chilli-roasted Brussels sprouts (R45), which will turn even the most ardent cabbage hater into a fan. It's truly moreish.

Desserts are simple but delicious - on the day we ate there was a selection of ice-cream and sorbets on offer.

No 12 is not licensed so bring your own. They are collaborating with Publik Wines who will be happy to advise on great wines to pair with No 12's menu.

The No 12 pop-up is running until the end of October and is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm till late and for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. You'll find it at 12 Tolip Street, Westdene, Johannesburg. For booking, see @gloryjoburg on Instagram or call 072-803-8863


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