29 February 2012

a sunday afternoon in china town.

This past weekend, while Jurg was away in Cape Town, I went with Martina, Rob, Karen, and TP to China Town in Cyrildene {near Bedfordview}.  Although I had planned to spend Sunday studying and catching up on work, it didn't take much convincing {ok let's be honest, it really took no convincing at all} for me to make a quick change of plans.  With the lure of delicious Chinese cuisine, authentic Asian grocery shops, ridiculously cheap haircuts, and Karen as our guide/translator, I was practically crawling out of my skin to see what adventures the day ahead would bring.

And let me just put this out there:

China Town did not disappoint! 

It proved to be yet another fantastic day in Johannesburg with the ex-pat/blogger clan. 

What made this China Town stand out from all the others I've visited was its authenticity.  Rather than being a huge tourist attraction, Cyrildene was a place where people seemed to live normal lives, just as they would have if they were in China.  It almost seemed to be a little Chinese utopia, cut-off from the rest of South African Society.  There were children playing in the streets, racks filled with Chinese magazines, traditional street stalls selling foods I had never seen or heard of before, and hardly any other non-Asian visitors to be found.  Having Karen and TP with us to translate was almost a necessity since it became apparent that English was not the language of choice.

First up on our agenda was lunch at Beef Noodle.  We sat back and let Karen and her husband take care of the ordering, since a) we had no idea what half of the things on the menu were {example: bezoar larynx}, b) the waitress wasn't fluent in English, and c) we knew they wouldn't choose anything that we would refuse to eat {example: chicken gizzard}.  

A lot of the menu items had very creative names, but the noodle dish "North Korea is Grim" took the cake in my opinion.  Rob was the one who initially spotted it and announced "I love how they've taken the political state of a nation and incorporated it into their menu!"  I kept hinting that we should order it, but Karen slyly dodged that bullet which was probably the better choice in the long run. ;)

After some deliberation, Karen and TP decided to order a beef stir fry, crispy prawns with cashews, peanut chicken {my favorite}, pork spare ribs, prawn fried rice, and water spinach.  I can vouch that everything was just as delicious as it sounds.  We had all of that food between five people and hardly anything was left over at the end!  Beef Noodle gets a big thumbs up from me!   

After lunch we browsed around the shops while the boys got haircuts.  Karen stocked up on all her usual items and made sure to explain what everything was to us.  A lot of the items looked really delicious and I bought some two-minute noodles, lots of sweets, a couple packets of red curry paste, some sticky rice, and a bag of traditional chrysanthemum tea - all for the equivalent of about $15!   

There were also some really strange interesting items which I steered clear away from.  I'm usually completely open to trying anything once, but vacuum-sealed chicken feet and fermented quail eggs take it one step too far, even for me.  No thank you.

After the boys had finished getting their hair cut, Martina and I decided it was our turn for an $8 trim {separate blog post to come on this soon!}, and afterwards we all headed home.

It was an amazing day, and definitely something different from my typical Sunday routine.

China Town, I'll be back again soon!
{with Karen and Martina in tow of course {and maybe even Jurgen} :)


  1. I'm so jealous of your Chinese meal. I live in a dumpy old town with nothing cool like that!

  2. stumbled onto your blog and just wanted to leave you a little blog luv! Def enjoyed reading this post!!that meal def looks yummy!


  3. I didn't even know that Jo-burg had a China Town. How cool! But those feet and eggs are totally gross!

  4. This looks like so much fun, thanks for sharing! xoxo

  5. sounds like such a nice way to spend a sunday! all the food looks so good! haha but vacuum sealed chicken feet....that is crazy!! im happy you steered clear of that one haha.

  6. I love that you share your life with us. The food looks yummy.

  7. That food looks amazing! I don't know if you've ever been to DC's Chinatown, but it's pathetic. It's more like "China-fewrestaurants" than a real Chinatown :(

  8. oh that looks like fun! i always wanted to go to chinatown in NYC>.....i LOVE sesame chicken! mmmmm

  9. It's cool when you can discover something new and interesting so close to home :)

    It kind of reminds me of when I lived in Chicago...you hardly see any Chinese people in the city until you go to Chinatown. It's pretty tiny there, but you feel like you're in a whole different world!

  10. This is making me so hungry.

    Love the bright colors of your photos. They're eye-candy!

  11. Dude, you don't need an expensive DSLR - your pictures are fantastic quality and great composition. You are a natural photographer xxx

  12. That looks like a fun day! I love that name of the "North Korea" dish, it's like a small protest :)

    xo Lisa

  13. It's so colorful! :)
    That Chinese food looks delish.

  14. I'm just not adventurous when it comes to Chinese! Such a wimp.

  15. Can you believe, I have never been...and its just down the road from me!

    Loved your pictures! I am so making an effort to head out that way.

  16. That looks so fun! Unfortunately the only China Town close to me is in SF and even then it is crawling with tourists :( But I love the shot of the colorful pagoda (sp?)


Thanks for the love!