For YEARS, and I mean YEARS, I’ve driven past Tai Ping next to Butler’s Pizza in Newlands (Dean Street). It actually looks lovely from the outside with it’s dark blue trimmings, however, the blinds are always down so it appeared a little cave like to me. Because of this, I’d never ventured in and always figured I’d get there.
The time arrived when I was looking to try something different. I rang my friend Panda and enquired if she’d ever been to Tai Ping? She couldn’t BELIEVE when I said I’d never been there and said she has friends who refuse to go anywhere else! It’s Tai Ping or nothing when it comes to Chinese. You can imagine I felt rather like a pleb after singing Tong Lok’s Kloof Street’s praises for years before it shut. Oops!
So off we trotted off to Tai Ping. The receptionist was very polite and allowed us to sit wherever we chose. It’s a split level restaurant so we sat in the lower half where we could chat away in privacy without bothering the other patrons. (You know girls just wanna have fun!)
Our training student waiter was really sweet but asked us one or two personal questions like, “What’s your name?” “Are you students?” I guess there’s an invisible line between making conversation with customers and trying to make friends. It probably came down to tone but I immediately thought, “I didn’t come out to hand over my personal information!” He was too sweet to correct but it was a bit weird. He was still learning the menu so the owner came over to help us choose. She was really warm and helpful, a lovely lady who advised us without being pushy.
I ordered the pork and spinach dim-sum; steamed dumplings really. At first I thought they were under-seasoned and pretty bland. As I continued to eat them, I realised that they are just a delicate dish and are actually delicious if you can appreciate the subtle flavours. I would have them again to become more familiar with the style of cuisine. Panda ordered the chicken and corn soup. Chinese food wouldn’t be Chinese food without ONE cheesey Chinese dish! I had the wanton soup for something different and really loved both the soups. Light, deep in flavour with fresh soft veg on top, beautiful
For our main we ordered the pork. Panda told me this was the dish of all dishes and she was right. WHY they say it’s for one though, I have no idea! After starters it is SO much food. We both ate really well and still took some home! Topped with fresh spring onions and a garlic pumped broth, it was delicious. I wouldn’t mind if they went a little more easy on the garlic (it didn’t burn, it was just a lot) but overall it was wonderful.
My only two complaints was the frozen veg in the fried rice – a bit lame for a restaurant. Especially since Chinese cuisine is meant to require great knife skillls. I’m sure chopping their own veg wouldn’t be THAT difficult. Also the house wine wasn’t great. I wasn’t really in the mood for a sour savignon blanc so it may be preference over quality. You decide.
Tai Ping also has a little take away kiosk on the side of the restaurant that sells their branded food items. I’ve seen these items (for example, sesame seeds) in the Green Point and Rosmead avenue Spars but didn’t realise it was a restaurant’s branded food. I thought it was a factory product. So Tai Ping has actually been used in my home without me knowing it!
Pop down to Newlands, try Tai Ping. It’s an intimate restaurant, I can imagine it could get quite loud in there but good for an easy meal.