Discovering the joys of Asian food in Melville. By Ingrid Shevlin
The Great Eastern Food Bar
The Bamboo Centre, Corner of Rustenburg Road and 9th Street,
Call 011 4822910
It has a mouthful of a name and unpretentious premises in a modest little retail centre in Melville. It’s The Great Eastern Food Bar and it serves truly amazing Asian inspired cuisine that is more than worthy of its grand name. In fact, I’d rate it as my best ever Asian food. And it’s thanks to my foodie brother Andrew and his equally foodie wife Judith, who live in Joburg, that I discovered it. When you’re next in Joburg, head for the GEFB without delay. Trust me on this one.
A long narrowish room with bare bricks on one side and a wooden bar area on the other. There are simple wooden tables and benches down one side with smaller tables in the centre with more conventional seating. The feel is meditative, Zen-like. An open terrace at the end of the room offers high tables and bar-type wooden stools. These are not comfortable if you have short legs. Which I have. Sadly. I have always wondered if my life would have been different if I had longer legs. That aside, there are great views over Melville’s green lung from the terrace to compensate for the discomfit.
A small menu which is Asian-inspired as I said, but with some quirky touches such as the sashimi tacos filled with trout ceviche, pickled lemon and wasabi, R50, which packed a powerful taste punch. Also steamed buns, dumplings, salads and four ways with tofu. These are starter-sized portions, cost of which ranges from R30 to R60.
Mains include ginger scallion noodles; Korean fried chicken; Bangkok fried chicken; a whole smoked trout with seasonal pickles; kimchi ginger noodles with daikon; and hiyashi chuka (cold ramen noodles) dressed in a soy, sesame and wasabi dressing and served with ramen egg, trout sashimi and pickled cucumbers. Cost range is R120 to R140.
Since it was a family dine-out and we all have similar tastes, we decided to share a selection of starter portions.
Apart from the sashimi tacos, we ordered gyoza dumplings with kimchi, R60; steamed buns filled with pickled shiitake, cucumber and served with hoisin sauce, R60; crispy scallion pancakes, R30, tabesaki chicken wings served with a miso-mayo dipping sauce, R60; jasmine rice dressed in a spiced coconut broth, R60; and a green papaya side salad, R60. Everything tasted fabulous, but if I had to choose a favourite it would be the steamed buns with shiitake followed by the sashimi tacos. The flavours were light, fresh and multi-layered with a mix of textures to stimulate the tastebuds.
For an Asian restaurant they serve surprisingly good non-Asian desserts: a chocolate mousse, R65 and a mini pavlova with mixed berries, R65. Both were sublime. Bill came to R910 for five people.
GEFB serve a good selection of cocktails and iced drinks like ginger and lemongrass and a lemon-infused coconut water, as well as sake.
Friendly and cheerful. Staff very slick and knowledgable.