Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Anniversary lunch at Yu, Heerengracht

A message from a friend whom Lynne has known since they were six, wishing us a Happy 17th Wedding Anniversary made us realise we had both completely forgotten about it. Embarrassing, but we did have a giggle and had to rush off to find our marriage certificate to check the date. And we always celebrate with a meal at an interesting restaurant. Lynne had read good things about Yu which is in the Heerengracht and is part of the Onyx hotel. It serves Asian food and much of it is Dim Sum, which we love, so we decided to try it for lunch
Our waiter Ndazi was most helpful and service was quick. He seemed to be the only one working, so perhaps he is the restaurant manager. It is quite open and modern in the restaurant and there is a corridor which links to the hotel and the toilets, which are quite far (past the lifts, with no signage near the restaurant and through several heavy doors). Given the times, it was sad to see no soap in the Mens’ (John reported and told a member of the cleaning staff) and an empty paper towel dispenser in the Womens’ toilets
The kitchen is open and raised
The simple paper lanterns really make a great atmosphere over the bar, where there is seating to enjoy drinks
We asked if they allowed us to bring our own wine from our cellar and was told that corkage for white wine was R60, which we are happy to pay. We are great fans of Newton Johnson Chardonnay and this Southend 2017 went perfectly with the food we ordered; so enjoyable too. Their wine list is not bad, but limited, which we expect in a restaurant like this; it is not fine dining
Love the busy hands octopus mural behind the kitchen
The menu. Prices for Dim Sum are a bit higher than we are used to, but their market is hotel guests and they are just across the road from the Convention Centre, as well as local businesses like Media 24, so probably right for the area. The most expensive thing is the price of the sushi, but we did see people order it
Prices of the Classic sushi are a bit lower but we were not tempted
The drinks menu. We prefer to do these at home, but a nice place to enjoy if you are travelling

Our first choice was one of the Nibbles, Hoisin Tempura Calamari, which was superb;
we will be back for more and it was a very generous serving for a snack. R102
Lots of sweet Hoisin, but we found that dipping into some soy nicely tempered the sweetness
We love dumplings and these were the "pot sticker" seafood dumplings. R88. For some reason you get four, but you get three of most of the other dumplings, which means that we chop one in half. BUT it tasted more like pork than seafood and we were told it is filled with a mixture of the fish of the day (which was very savoury and meaty) and chopped calamari. Not seafood in the way we understand it and not very nice. The dumplings were steamed and not pot stickers at all, no fry marks on them. We did tell the waiter that we we were not happy and queried their contents, but we had eaten two so did not insist  that they were replaced
The Bao Buns we chose are filled with pulled Beef short rib with garlic, chilli and oyster sauce
They were as light as air and delicious
They come with lots of shredded cucumber which, luckily, could be easily removed. Lynne dislikes cucumber. R88 for 2
So, missing the seafood, we ordered the good looking steamed prawn and butternut dumplings. R68. Another disaster sadly, filled with bland unseasoned butternut and not a sign of a prawn anywhere. Very disappointing. We buy 800g of prawn meat for about R80 to R120 in the supermarket and it feeds us several meals, so it is sad to see that they are scrimping. Would not order these again. They came with two dipping sauces: a sriracha chilli and what looked like a plum sauce. Only three, so we had one and half each. Some of the dim sum items have strange ingredients, non traditional like cream cheese (?) definitely not an Asian ingredient. Perhaps we are too traditional and not modern enough
As an Anniversary treat, we ordered Peking Duck, not expecting a serving for one. Five small pancakes meant just 2 for one of us and 3 for the other, thinly sliced duck - probably one breast, fat rendered out and quite crisp skin, served with spring onions, lots of cucumber strips - and carrot which is a new one for us. Hoisin sauce and a citrus sauce. What we had was good, but not quite what we were expecting at R220. We  thought of chef Alex at the late and very lamented Dynasty in Sea Point who used to carve the whole duck at the table
As usual, we did not order dessert
But the restaurant surprised us with a lovely Anniversary plate of a Chocolate Fondant with Pistachio ice cream
Thank you, an unexpected treat
Our bill with service added. Thank you all yous at YU! (local vernacular)

But the restaurant surprised us with a lovely Anniversary plate of a Chocolate Fondant with Pistachio ice cream, Thank you, an unexpected treat.
Our bill with service added. Thank you all yous at YU! (local vernacular)

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