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How three top Cape Town chefs are making a case for street food over fine dining

With a strong shift from fancy fine dining to street-inspired food currently taking place worldwide, Steve Steinfeld looks at how this trend is playing out in Cape Town

19 February 2020 - 10:13 By Steve Steinfeld
The Atsui Dog from TjingTjing Torii.
The Atsui Dog from TjingTjing Torii.
Image: Supplied

Cape Town’s hottest young chefs are exploring a different style of dining with their exuberance for street-style chow. There’s a strong shift away from the stuffy settings of fine dining establishments to more casual yet refined eateries with an emphasis on street food – and it’s pretty damn delicious.

Here are three flavourful, street food-esque spots in Cape Town worth taking a bite out of:


The laidback ground floor section of TjingTjing House, Torii, serves up casual Japanese street food – the likes of which can be found in one of Japan’s many yokocho (alleyway) eateries.

Expect buttery miso chicken ramen and sticky pork belly steamed buns. A special mention must go to its Atsui Dog, an absolutely cracking all-beef sausage served in a milk bread bun, topped with kewpie mayo, kimchi, hot sauce and strips of nori – it’s a wonderfully creative and clever twist on the classic hotdog.

End the meal with a selection of mochi or a decadent Japanese cheesecake with miso caramel.

• 165 Longmarket Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 021-422-4374 /422-4920


Chef John van Zyl, previously at the helm of Liam Tomlin’s Indian-tapas eatery Thali, returned from his travels and wowed Cape Town with his Melting Pot pop-up. Now onto its second iteration, the concept has found a permanent home in the form of The Melting Pot Cafeteria.

This minimalist space sees van Zyl take his global street food-inspired cuisine to the next level. Van Zyl is careful not to label his style of cuisine, which works to his advantage – the world is his playground, and this is represented on the plate.

Fish taco from The Melting Pot Cafeteria.
Fish taco from The Melting Pot Cafeteria.
Image: Supplied

Dishes include fried fish tacos, gorgeous tuna tataki and his own iteration of a Brick Lane bagel. It’s all about bold, deep flavours that take the diner on a culinary journey down the world’s most interesting streets, whether it be Vietnam or New York.

• 64A Wale Sreet, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town,  071-525-8875.


The Commissary – brainchild of The Shortmarket Club powerhouse duo Chef Wesley Randals and manager Simon Widdison – is the epitome of convivial cool.

Zoo Biscuit nice cream from The Commissary.
Zoo Biscuit nice cream from The Commissary.
Image: Supplied

Think communal tables, ever-changing menus and graffiti by street-artist extraordinaire Skullboy.

When it comes to food, start with the Thai-inspired oysters in a nahm jim dressing. It hits all the sweet, salty, sour and spicy spots just right – it’s a proper exercise in flavour.

The lobster rolls are the stuff of legends, and the Anthony Bourdain slider – a great homage to the late kitchen rebel and inspired by “Tony’s ultimate classic burger” – is a must try, too.

Make sure to keep some space for dessert too, because whether it’s the Zoo Biscuit nice cream (made with liquid nitrogen) or a glorious hot-out-of-the-oven cookie, you won’t be sorry.

The Commissary is flavour-forward and fun, managing to serve up seriously good food without being too serious.

• The Commissary, 88 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, 072-449-3697.

This article was originally published on Wanted Online. Visit wantedonline.co.za for all the latest in luxury lifestyle news.