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Restaurant Review

Pan-Asian Tang is Joburg's newest 'it' restaurant

Sbu Mkwanazi pays the Sandton eatery a visit to discover what all the fuss is about

06 June 2021 - 00:01 By Sbu Mkwanazi
Tang's spicy rock shrimp.
Tang's spicy rock shrimp.
Image: Curtis Gallon

Fellow South Africans,

It has been some time since we held a family meeting to discuss our country's growing number of restaurants.

Due to the coronavirus, it has been more than a year since most of us were able to travel outside of the country, taking in foreign cultures, sights, sounds and perhaps even more importantly, their culinary offerings.

Despite the country being on lockdown level 1 for a few months, an increasing number of patrons ensured they were among the first few to experience Sandton's latest "it" restaurant, Tang.

After being given the all-clear from my advisory panel, who also happens to double up as my wife, I am happy to announce that I recently sampled the establishment's wares. From the dark wood and unmissable marble slabs to the cherry blossom trees, the evidence leads us to conclude that we have been transported to Asia when the Tang dynasty ruled, from 618 to the year 907.

The decor of Tang restaurant in Sandton, Joburg, will make you feel as if you've been transported to Asia.
The decor of Tang restaurant in Sandton, Joburg, will make you feel as if you've been transported to Asia.
Image: Graeme Wylie

It is clear that foodie and entrepreneur Nicky van der Walt, owner of the luxury pan-Asian bar and restaurant, wants his patrons not only to taste, feel, smell and touch parts of Asia, he has endeavoured they be in Asia.

My journey started with the night's first performance, in which our waitress handed us what at first looked like a container for airpods. Two seconds later the headphone-looking objects turned out to be tiny, rolled up hand towels that swell up when lemongrass-flavoured water was poured into the container. This set the tone for the night - it was one grand performance after another.

When the smallest speck of dust landed on our socially distanced table, the nearest staff member would spring-clean it as if their tips depended on it. Even better, it brought great joy to me when I witnessed a "human handwasher" close to the unisex lavatories, as she ensured I washed my hands, for nothing less than 20 seconds, as per WHO guidelines.

I've been advised that sometimes, when an establishment employs such elaborate tactics, the aim is to direct your attention away from their mediocre food. I am happy to announce that this isn't the case at Tang.

I've instituted a commission of inquiry to determine whether my suspicion that even those whose symptoms include a loss of taste will be able to taste the wagyu tataki, as it offers the boldest flavours on the menu.

The chilli salt pepper calamari and oysters with shiso truffle proved to be irresistible for my adviser, who was meant to be a strict critic.

Tang's chicken yakitori skewers with ponzu sauce and wasabi nuts.
Tang's chicken yakitori skewers with ponzu sauce and wasabi nuts.
Image: Curtis Gallon

On the night of my visit, chef Vixa Kalenga ensured a sustained increase of excitement for our palates, as his main dishes resulted in a 90% satisfaction rating for me, while the infatuation rate proved to be closer to 98%.

The robata (short for robatayaki, which translates to "fireside cooking" in Japanese) grill offered smoky spare ribs, delectable pork bellies and the most tantalising tomahawk steaks I have savoured, year to date.

Although some of you might say that the province of Gauteng and specifically the suburb of Sandton has reached its threshold when it comes to fine dining, I urge you to visit Tang and be part of the first wave of positively satisfied patrons, as the restaurant only opened three weeks ago and plans are to move it to an adjusted level of hospitality.

May God bless South Africa and her patrons.

Mr Sbu Mkwanazi, president of the ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) party

Visit Tang at shop 120, Nelson Mandela Square, corner Maude and West streets, Sandton. Call 071-379-2161 or visit tanghospitality.com. Operating times: Noon until 11pm (depending on curfew) daily.