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Chef Pon’s Asian Street Bar, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town: Restaurant Review

Chef Pon’s Asian Street Bar
Cnr. Kloof & Union Sts.
Tamboerskloof, Cape Town
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Specialty: Indonesian cuisine
Contact: Tel: +27 (0) 21 422 4033
SA Blog recommends a look inside? Definitely

Further Insight & Opinion
There are two Chef Pon’s in Cape Town – one that you can never get into, and one that you can always get into. To illustrate, a quick digression:

My Lovely Assistant and I recently booked a table at the impossible-to-get-into Chef Pon’s Asian Kitchen, on Mill Street in the leafy Cape Town suburb of Gardens. When we arrived, there was no record of our reservation, and no chance of being seated for several hours. Mr. Pon suggested, however, that he could get us a table at his other restaurant, Chef Pon’s Asian Street Bar, which we grudgingly accepted.

Cut to the Street Bar, subject of this review. It’s about 45 minutes later, and I’m in the middle of my spicy chicken-with-lemongrass entree, when my cell phone rings. It’s the hostess at the Asian Kitchen, inquiring if I was planning to make my reservation, and pointing out that I was almost an hour late, and she had a long wait list.

There are two lessons to be taken from this story. First, Chef Pon’s will hold your reservation for an hour, which is pretty darned lenient. Second, if kismet should determine that Chef Pon’s will dishonor the very reservation that it then proceeds to hold for an hour, acquiesce in your fate with grace, for you’ll soon find yourself sampling unexpected delights.

The Street Bar is much less expensive than the Kitchen, and its menu less extensive, but its food – well, I’ve still to eat the Kitchen’s food, but if it’s anything like its little brother’s, then I think I’ll have to hazard more “how-dare-you-make-a-reservation-here” punishment, and try to sneak in again.

The Street Bar’s servings are exactly what you seek in a far-east eatery: simple, fragrant, spicy Indonesian- and Thai-inspired food, generously-proportioned, never greasy. My tom yum kung (prawn soup starter) had four montsrous prawns in it, a broth that cleared the nose, and – gasp! – vegetables. It was delicious. My Lovely Assistant’s spring rolls were crisp, hot, and dunked many times into a tasty plum sauce. The entrees were equally tasty, with my aforementioned chicken slightly shading her pad thai. The bill, at about R70 each (inclusive), was something like half of what it would have been, had we dined at the Kitchen – but there was not much room for increase in our post-prandial satisfaction.

In short, despite the fact that the atmosphere of the Street Bar’s smoking section occasionally pervades that of the non-smoking one, we’ll be back!