I’m that unlucky person at restaurants. I’m the one who orders rare and gets cremated, finds fingernails in the salad and once, I kid you not, a marble in my burger. There’s only one way that I’ll know my food is safe…
Let me just cook it myself, thanks.
As you all may know I’m in Joburg. Last week I ventured to Wang Thai in Sandton City to try out their new Suki and Noodle Bar. If you aren’t sure what it is, Suki is also known as a Hot Pot or even Asian Fondue. In the centre of each table is an induction stove, which reach boiling point in a matter of seconds. You then choose your combo of ingredients that’s brought to you raw, along with a delicious broth.
We ordered the Extravaganza Combo (R120pp). Beef fillet, chicken strips, calamari, mussels, prawns, fish pieces, bok choi and egg. I substituted pork wonton dumplings for white fungus, which is a large “mushroom” that oddly enough looks like tripe – but tastes much better.
The broth is poured into a heavy pot, you add the base ingredients: spring onion, celery, Chinese cabbage and glass noodles. We left the sprouts out to add some fresh crunch later and stirred in the raw egg. You are also given two sauces to add to each bowlful as you please: one chilli-sesame and the other a sweet, sticky barbeque.
The point is to take a ladle, add the ingredients you feel like, allow it to cook for a minute, then pour it into a little bowl and add the sauce of your choice. Each bowlful tastes different and the stock itself gets better as you go. It was probably one of the nicest experiences I’ve had in a long while.
Another element to this experience is the idea of tantalising each of the taste senses and with your meal you’re given additional seasonings: sugar (the sweet), chilli and white vinegar (the sour), Thai dried chilli (hot hot hot!) and rich, fish sauce (the salty). They leave out bitter as it doesn’t do it for everyone.
Alongside the glorious Suki pot we tried a few items from the Noodle bar. What’s amazing about Thai meals is that you don’t eat in courses, your food comes to the table at once and you enjoy a full, opulent spread. Obviously you are welcome to have dish by dish, but I recommend having the true experience.
The lightly friend calamari with tamarind chilli (R42) was so addictive we considered ordering another portion. The spicy, fruity and sour sauce went wonderfully with the simple delicate calamari.
We also tried the prawn phad thai wok fried noodles (R92), stir-fried with veg, egg and soya. This was absolutely delicious, especially paired with the chilli flakes, fish sauce and vinegar. You scoop a little out of the main bowl and put it on your plate, which allows you to try different flavour combinations with each mouthful. A truly stunning dish.
Next up, roast duck breast (R120) on a bed of bok choi with yellow bean sauce and a sweet soya chilli dressing. The soya sauce was thick, sweet and dark, perfect for the meaty duck. The yellow bean sauce was nutty and slightly creamy, a wonderful contrast to the soya. The duck breast was slightly overdone and was dry on the edges, however the centre was delicious and I think if it had been cooked for 5 minutes less, it would have been phenomenal.
After all of that we needed a break before attempting dessert. I had to try the banana and chocolate springrolls, which were cooked perfectly as the banana had not turned to absolute mush. Not everyone’s favourite, but certainly one of mine.
My friend had a ginger and lemon grass crème brulee. He was very disappointed, but only because he ordered it with the expectation of it being like a traditional brulee. It obviously wasn’t. The custard was quite thick, with a hint of ginger and lemon – I had to stop myself from eating the whole thing.
They don’t charge for functions and you can book the entire Suki area for about 25 people to eat together. The various Suki or hot pot combos range from a simple R55, up to R120, and you can mix-and-match from a list of ingredients to make up one of your own.
WangThai’s Suki and Noodle bar is the place you go to relax and cook with people you love being around. It is fun, interactive and ultimately – an incredible restaurant and experience. Probably my eating-highlight of Joburg so far.
I need to find one of these places in Cape Town. Ideas?