Two Peas in Cyrildene

One of my favourite hidden gems in Johannesburg is Derick Avenue in Cyrildene. This relativity new China Town is packed full of fresh and unusual produce, small hole in the wall type restaurants, Chinese supermarkets and is thankfully relatively free of the cheap and nasty China import type shops that dominate the China Malls around Gauteng. Since Kyle is relatively new to Johannesburg and has never been to Cyrildene I suggested a Saturday Morning outing. Once I managed to lure Kyle off the the couch and out from under his duvet with the prospect of really authentic Dim Sum, we set off.

One of my favourite parts of Derick Avenue are the street sellers peddling all manner of fresh Chinese produce at a fraction of the price you would expect to pay in supermarkets. Fascinated by the array of unfamiliar and unusual ingredients and lured by the low prices, we bought bags of oyster mushrooms, fresh spring onions, Chinese cucumber, water chestnuts, spouts, tofu and varieties of squash and potatoes we had never seen before. We then ventured into one of the larger supermarkets along the street. The supermarkets are fascinating with rows and rows of strange bottles, sauces, bags of unidentifiable ingredients and freeze dried seafood. It is often almost impossible to know what you are buying as the bulk of the labels are in Chinese with no English translations. Unfortunately most of the shopkeepers are not all that fluent in English so one generally has to look at the picture on the packet and hope for the best.

Duck blood, and other delights

Fresh Oyster Mushrooms

Some of the ingredients and produce we brought home

We then met up with a friend and headed up to the Shun Deck Chinese Restaurant for some authentic dim sum. They run a buffet from 11am to 2.30 pm with a large selection of savoury and sweet dim sums. The trick here is not to ask what is in the the food because you probably don’t want to know and its delicious anyway. We loved the steamed buns, the pork pot stickers and the glass noodle pork dumplings. Not so great were the custard dumplings which tasted like thick slightly borderline sweet egg yolk. The best advice I can give though is avoid the tea. I absolutely love tea with my meal but for some reason there was a lost in translation situation, which resulted in us drinking a detox tea of sorts. I had wondered why the lady had looked at me like I was mad when I ordered the pot and unfortunately the results started to hit just as we arrived back on the street to do some more shopping. Trust me when I say its no fun desperately seeking a bathroom along that street and having to make do with a less than standard one in hurry.

Some of the dim sum we sampled at Shun Deck Chinese Restuarant

These had the hollow centres and the most remarkable texture

On Sunday we decided to experiment with making dim sum for some of our friends and family using some of the weird and wonderful ingredients we had bought. We managed to produce with varying success Vietnamese glass spring rolls, pickled diakon, pork and coriander steamed won tons, sweet pork steamed buns, dipping sauces, a funky kimchi and marinaded tofu noodle dish and a tapioca, coconut and water chestnut dessert.

Making Won Tons

Steaming with our electric and bamboo steaming contraption

Kimchi and Marinaded Tofu with Noodles

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Tapioca with Coconut and Grated Water Chestnut

The food was washed down with copious amounts of wine, chatter and laughter. Jersey even managed to steal a few won tons off the table while no one looked before photo bombing our duck face picture!

Originally published at on June 29, 2015.

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