They come to snuff the Rooster: Great Northern Chinese Foods in Cyrildene

Noble Savage (he said): 

This year marks the year of the rooster according to the Chinese calendar. I’m not entirely sure what that means, so here’s a video to celebrate roosters:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAE6Il6OTcs

Back to business. Every major city in the world has a “Chinatown” as part of their cultural heritage. Except cities in China; there they’re known as “Town”. And Joburg is no exception. Just to the side of Bruma, you’ll find Cyrildene.

This suburb was historically a Jewish area, but since around 2000, Chinese emigrants started living here. The interesting thing is that most residents are first generation Chinese, so the whole neighbourhood reflects a distinct asian look-and-feel. At the heart of our Chinatown is Derrick avenue, where you’ll find all manner of asian markets. Locals are welcome in most of the shops (stick to the bigger ones), and you’ll be able to stock up on all sorts of ingredients and stuff you need to make delectable asian dishes (keep an eye out for Kitchen at the End of the Universe for some asian-inspired ideas).

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Right at the end of Derrick avenue (or the start, depending on which way you come from), is Great Northern. Like all Chinese restaurants (and there must be some World Order deciding from behind the curtain on this), the decor is exactly what you’d expect: dingy, tacky, and charmingly kitsch. The hostess was very friendly and inviting, immediately showing us her Eat Out 2017 sticker.

If you’re in the mood for duck blood, this is the place for you. Seriously, they have an entire section on the menu devoted to internal organs. Lovely… Luckily, they have all the mainstays you’d expect, plus some speciality dishes. The mains on the menu are made to share, as the portions are fucking huge. I decided on the spicy calamari, together with the seafood noodles.

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The calamari is the best out there: not burn-the-living-hell-out-of-your-mouth spicy, but more lovingly-nudge-your-tongue-to-make-you-feel-alive spicy. And did I mention the portion size? Breakfast sorted, then!

You do have a few other choices on the street for decent Chinese (we really want to try out Fisherman’s Plate next door), but if you’re not feeling too adventurous, Great Northern is for you. Their menu is very authentic, but not as intimidating as you might think. The wait staff’s English is good enough to get by, and the prices are suspiciously low. They do have some wines, but rather take your own (bonus – no corkage!).

China is already a superpower, and it seems they have quite an aggressive plan to colonise Africa. So we might as well start getting used to their food. So go out and explore Cyrildene; you might realise that our new Overlords aren’t that bad.

BoozyFoodie (she said):

Okay, I actually did a bit of reading about the year of the rooster – and I couldn’t really find a lot of useful information.  What it does look like though, if you were born in the year of the rooster, this yearmay not be your best year yet!  But you can of course make up your own mind!  Link to Travel China Guide – Zodiac Customs

We’ve been going to Cyrildene for a good couple of years now. I was orginally introduced to ‘China Town’ via a walking tour by Chef Ishvara from “African Secrets” Facebook page link  It really feels as if you’re a tourist in your own city, what an experience!  And be warned – it isn’t the same as having a meal at a posh Asian restaurant in the northern suburbs – this is the real deal.  A very authentic experience – on every level.

We’ve been to Chinese Northern Foods a couple of times already – it is real value for money, and the food is really good!  Yes, communication and service may be a tad challenging at times, but if you realise it is what it is, then it is worth it!  In other words, just chill – this isn’t Sandton Honey.  And it is okay!  And yes – there are photos on the wall to help you make up your mind.

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Going to Cyrildene early on Sunday morning, right after the final new year’s celebrations the night before was quite exciting.  Hanging bright red lanterns lining the street and decorating the various shops and restaurants, the red remnants of firecrackers all over the street and walkways, and a lot of people looking a little, uhm tired! We arrived early (as usual) just as the restaurant was opening up, still cleaning up after the night before.  They were actually the first one opened, the other restaurants in the immediate facinity usually opens up about an hour later.  We were greeted with great enthusiasm and shown inside – and saw some other customers who were already wolfing down huge bowls of noodles and fluffy rice. Breakfast food!

We always start off with some steamed dumplings – a big portion ideal for sharing!  And every time, given that we know the size of the portions, we say that we will skip the ‘dumpling starter’, but this is so part of the experience, so we just keep stuffing ourselves!

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These pork dumplings were silky soft and so tasty – and then I usually DROWN it in soy sauce and vinegar *grin*

This time I opted for the ‘Shredded Pork’ – and what a gorgeous (tasty and pretty!) dish it turned out to be:

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When the plate was placed in front of me I did feel (and obviously looked) a bit intimidated, so the waitress quickly showed me how to eat it.  First you place a ‘roll’ of pasta (gawd, I think that is what it was!!) and veggies on a spoon, and then you pile the pork strips on top of it.  Like so:

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Yes, crappy cellphone pic.  Sigh.

BUT eating this dish this way guarantees every mouthful to be a burst of taste and flavour!  I will definitely have it again.  I also had a few bites of the seafood noodles – and then had most of it for lunch the next day!  Told you – huge portions!

It is really a very affordable meal – and the ideal would be to gather a few friends, a grab a big round table, fill the lazy susan with different dishes and experiment with the various tastes and options.  The perfect way to spend a long and lazy Sunday Lunch!

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