A new addition to the rapidly gentrifying south end of Rosebank, framed by Bolton road and Jan Smuts avenue is Bruce Beattle’s (of Social on Main fame) latest carnation, Saigon Suzy. The shop neighbours the Collective and, to my husband’s panic, has replaced the pool chemicals shop that has been on Jan Smuts longer than Jan Smuts. A welcome redevelopment of this building.
Ambience: Cool and hipsteresque (4/5)
Food: Asian BBQ and street food (4/5)
Service: Friendly, attentive and efficient (4/5)
Overall: Sophisticated Asian street food delivered in a savvy setting
Self-styled as an Asian BBQ joint, the fit-out is chic, cool, and hipsteresque, but does not overdo it. Clever and efficient shopfit with well appointed furnishings and decoration reveal a savvy restauranteur, and an inviting space. Counters with bar stools line the road-facing side of the restaurant, offering a relaxed street-side vibe for passers by, and adds authenticity to their street food theme.
FOOD AND DRINK
Drinks are steered towards a well-curated range of authentic cocktails, with a back-up wine list. The Singapore Sling is fantastic, and we waded quite deep into the list – all were great. Clearly an expert mixologist, but with prices to match. We ran up a drinks bill on six cocktails that is usually reserved for a Sadie Family wine, or bottle of French.
Despite there only being two of us, we explored the Small Plate Essentials on the menu extensively (not all pictured). Our favourites were the Prawn Toasts (more like little sandwich delights), Agedashi Tofu and Roast Duck Pot Stickers. We then moved onto an “assemble your own” Wok ‘n Roll and Broken Rice BBQ. It was a lengthy lunch experience.
Although they call themselves “Asian BBQ”, I think this is misleading. The dishes are beautifully prepared, with bright, refined and unapologetically Asian flavours. Having travelled in all the countries their food hails from, it is a far cry from the BBQ or street foods they claim, but in a good way. Flavours are in equal measure bold and delicate, bright and subtle, and presentation is lovely. More sophisticated than street. Again, though, get ready to dig deep, as the portions are noticeably smaller than traditional Joburg portions (including the up swell of tapas-type offerings currently exploding everywhere). Two bites at best for most of the dishes, so if you are on a budget, have a snack before you come, or be prepared to leave hungry. Prices again are hard, and I would argue expensive – I think they may battle a bit here. I take nothing away from the experience, the food and drinks were superb, but I did notice quite a lot of the younger hip crowd picking agonizingly at small plates that were not replenished for fear that their credit cards would bounce.
Worthy of a special mention is the Saigon Suzy take on a traditional Tiramisu called the Tirami-Suzy. I wasn’t keen on dessert but my number two ordered this. In addition to mascarpone and chocolate, this version is made with tangy raspberries and coffee soju, a vodka-like liquor of Korean origin. I’m not a dessert or Tiramisu fan but this was sensational.
THE QUIRK FACTOR
A fun quirk is the Karaoke rooms upstairs, behind the main restaurant space. Clearly a dead space in the building, some bright spark fitted these out with TVs, couches, groovy lighting, mini-bars, and hey presto! A really authentic Japanese private karaoke joint! You rent the rooms by the hour, offering either pre- or post dinner shenanigans. A very clever way to manage queuing patrons, and driving additional turnover. Hats-off on this idea, and I suspect we will see many copycats on this score.
144 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg
Tel: 011 3276596
Email: [email protected]
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