Dumplings served at Chez Fong

A Theatrical Dinner Chez Fong

I recently cracked an invite to dine Chez Fong.

Su-yen preparing dinner Chez FongFong, otherwise known as Su-yen, chopping up a storm before the other guests arrive.

Fong, aka Su-yen Thornhill, is part South African, part Chinese (via Hong Kong), part chef, part comedian, part yoga guru, and part Energizer Bunny. She runs a restaurant that’s not a restaurant (don’t you dare call it a pop-up), in a dining room attached to her sprawling Houghton home, where she whips up eight courses (maybe ten, if the mood strikes her) of pan-Asian taste bud excitement every Wednesday evening.

Some dishes re-occur; others surface once and are never seen again.

Spy sauce Chez FongSpicy soy sauce in progress.

Dinner Chez Fong is like a lucky packet of flavors, or a Forest Gump box of (savory) chocolates in which you never know whatchyer gonna get. It’s guaranteed to be delicious though. And you’re firmly guaranteed to laugh a lot.

People laughing Chez FongPeople laughing Chez Fong.

Su-yen messaged me on a Tuesday, inviting me to attend her dinner the next night. There wasn’t a seat for me, she said, but I was welcome to come hang out in the kitchen and sample the food as it came out.

I accepted without hesitation. People have been raving to me about Chez Fong for months. Her dinners are quite expensive and booked far in advance.

I didn’t realize I would be forced to wear a bright yellow apron and peel a dozen quail eggs. (Have you ever peeled a soft-boiled quail egg? Trust me, it’s no picnic.) I also didn’t realize Chez Fong’s kitchen is more like a stage and I would spend the whole evening as Su-yen’s supporting actor. And believe you me, she’s hard to keep up with.

Dinner Chez FongI have lots of shots like this.

An Evening Chez Fong

In between taking pictures and peeling eggs and stuffing my face and handing out vodka shooters, I managed to incoherently write down most of the dishes. Here are my iPhone notes, verbatim:

Sushi rice with tuna in a box
Deconstructed tuna tartar

Dumplings with shiitake and pork

Deep fried green beans

Papaya salad
Calamari

Crispy duck with hoisin and lettuce leaves with steamed bun

Prawns with fennel

Salmon with snow peas and mayo with wasabi and seaweed

Sliced beef wrapped in veggies
Seaweed cooked in garlic soy

Quail eggs?

Oreo cookie dolce de leche ice cream

There’s a question mark next to quail eggs because although I went to great lengths to peel them, the eggs never made it into any of the courses. That’s how Chez Fong rolls.

Dumplings served at Chez FongDeliciously wrinkly pork and shiitake dumplings.

Salmon with snow peas Chez FongMy favorite course: Salmon baked with some kind of magical sauce, served over snow peas with the tastiest mayo I’ve ever eaten. This dish literally exploded in my mouth.

Chez Fong was bedlam in the best possible way.

Cleaning up dishes Chez FongRebecca, one of two very patient Chez Fong staff people, clears dishes between courses.

My feet were killing me by the end of the night but it was 100% worth it. Going forward I would definitely shell out the R500 (about $37) required to secure a seat Chez Fong. (This price may increase in 2018.) Clearly I’m not alone, as Su-yen told me she’s already booked through March and that was a few weeks ago.

I hope to see you again soon, Ms. Fong. Let me know the next time you need an egg-peeler.

Heather and Su-YenThose aprons are hot.

Tips for Dining Chez Fong:

  1. As I said, Chez Fong books up well in advance. Follow her Facebook page for updates and message her there with questions and booking requests.
  2. Chez Fong is BYOB. Champagne corks were flying on the night I went. Come prepared and definitely Uber.
  3. If you want a front-row seat for the Chez Fong show, book a place at the counter. If you prefer to stay in the background, there are three or four big round tables to choose from.
  4. Leave your political correctness at the door. Su-yen loves bawdy humor and she refers to food allergies as “eating disorders”. That said, she will do her best to accommodate various dietary requirements if you alert her in advance.
  5. Go. Just go.

My dinner Chez Fong was complimentary. Opinions expressed are mine.

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7 Comments

  • Reply autumnashbough December 10, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    That sounds like so much fun.

    • Reply 2summers December 10, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      You and Su-yen would get on like a house on fire. She tells soooooo many Asian mother jokes.

  • Reply Lani December 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I love this idea, so warm and everyone in your photos are always laughing and smiling. What a grand experience! (and an inspiration :))

    • Reply 2summers December 11, 2017 at 3:30 pm

      You would love it!

  • Reply violetonlineisonline December 11, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    this sounds incredible.
    divine food, divine setting, also you look good in yellow.

    • Reply 2summers December 11, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Why, thank you! You would love this.

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