I have written about Cyrildene or the new Chinatown of Joburg several times on this blog and you can read a previous post covering some restaurants here. Whenever I crave good Chinese food, which is at least once a month, K and I head to this area. But I also like to wander around here every now and then, browsing through the shops and buying fresh tofu, Chinese greens and Thai food ingredients. I love the hot Thai chillies and the fresh pakchoy they sell on the street here.
But, I digress. Since we eat here often, we now have a few favourite places that we always visit. There are so many places to choose from, that it’s kind of baffling! However, this weekend I decided to ditch our usual and try a different restaurant. So we went to Chinese Northern Foods restaurant instead.
As with all other places in the area, the restaurant is small with simple decor. If you are looking for fancy, Cyrildene is not for you. But if it’s good food at cheap prices that you are after, then you are in paradise! We went on a Friday evening, and only two tables were occupied but this should not be taken as an indication of the popularity of the restaurant, or the lack of. Cyrildene is not a hugely popular place and is frequented by only the local Chinese and food fanatics like us.
Northern Foods has a huge and exhausting menu, serving everything from dimsums, sea food and poultry dishes to a long list of internal organ preparations! The menu is in English but if you need further explanations about any dish, their young waitress is very helpful. But make sure you ask her to repeat your orders as sometimes she gets confused.
We decided to start with a plate of spring rolls, a plate of pork and leek dimsums and a plate of seafood dimsums. For mains, we ordered a sizzling beef platter and a sizzling tofu & seafood platter with egg fried rice and vegetable noodles. Before I could order a hot pot that I really wanted to try, the waitress looked at the three of us and said rather calmly, “This is enough now”! Never in our lives had someone admonished us like this. We burst out laughing, blaming it all on our greed for good food.
One thing to keep in mind at these restaurants is that there is no concept of starters and main course. If you order your food together, they bring out whatever is ready first. So the first dish at our table was sizzling beef, followed by the egg fried rice and the sizzling tofu and seafood platter! Our so called starters – spring rolls and dimsums were the last to be served.
Unfortunately, the waitress had confused our dimsum order and we landed up with two plates of pork and leek dimsums and no seafood dimsums at all. Ordinarily, this would not have been an issue since one plate usually contains only 3 or 4 dimsums. But not in Cyrildene – our plate had atleast 20 dimsums! So now we had 40 pork and leek dimsums to finish, not to mention the 10 spring rolls!! (Portion sizes at these restaurants tend to be quite big and are ideal for sharing)
The beef dish was delicious. The pieces were soft and juicy and the small red chilies made it even better. The seafood platter contained a mix of shrimps, calamari and prawns and went really well with the vegetable noodles. However, the hot favourite of the evening were the veg springrolls. They were light and crispy with some kind of red granules on top. I also liked the pork dimsums but the sight of so many of them was making my head spin! We ate as much as we could but there was enough left over to take home, which the waitress was happy to pack for us.
Despite the small mis-communication, I really enjoyed the food at this restaurant as I found it to be less oily than Li’s, and really flavoursome.
Northern Foods serves a limited selection of wine and beers but I would recommend ordering their tea.
Address: 20 Derrick Street, Cyrildene, Johannesburg
Opening hours: Mon to Sun – 12pm to 3pm; 5.30pm to 10pm
Cost: R200 for two people if you don’t binge eat like us!
They also have a branch in Rovonia at the Rivonia Centre.