After a false start some years ago, a renewed effort to revitalise the cultural and transit hub of Newtown, in the Johannesburg CBD, is well underway with the opening late last year of the Newtown Junction retail hub. Town, the buzzing dim sum bar in the space, has become a popular destination.
Town – the dim sum and beer bar at the relatively new Workshop Newtown – sits as the only watering hole in a historical highway shed which was, in 2015, transformed into an innovative retail concept with some of the best local fashion, design and lifestyle brands. The cosy, pared-down space has quickly become a magnet for events and pop-ups, hosting some of the best fashion parties in town. The key furniture items, designed by Gregor Jenkin – one of the country’s most buzzed about design exports – complimented by an indoor hanging garden of air plants and massive stag horn ferns bring vibrancy to the space, while the glass walls let in a lot of sunlight which also adds to the ambience.
Their tapas style menu consists of light dim sum with flavour combinations such as chicken and coriander; beef and ginger; salmon and cream; spinach and cream cheese; and pork infused with cider and fennel. They pride themselves in their gluten-free dough and the best local ingredients – where possible, veggies and herbs from organic gardens.
Notable media professionals, Mr Gary Cotterell, Ms. Zanele Kumalo and Ms. Zodwa Kumalo-Valentine; tax expert Mr Marcus Botha; and young Zimbabwean chef, Mr Canaan “Sbu” Msongelwa founded the place out of a shared love for dim sum. The Kumalo sisters – who made their DJ duo debut at this year’s first Little Gig Festival – are the resident DJs and music selectors, with their playlists also setting the tone for the entire Workshop Newtown retail space. At any one time you can find Scandi electric grooves, kwaito, neo soul or old school hip hop wafting through the space.
On my first visit, I could not contain my excitement since it was my first time trying dim sum. I wanted a guide through the process and fortunately for me, the chef was more than willing to hold my hand through it. He suggested I pair the food with craft beer*, instead of the Black Label I had asked for. As he shared how he became a chef in the Afro-Asian food space and his hopes for the place, it became evident that this was a true love affair and we all know that nothing tastes better than food cooked with love. I tried everything except the spinach and cream cheese and I was not disappointed. The explosion of all the flavours in my mouth caught me by surprise. It felt like such an adventure. I’ll definitely be going back soon for the beef and ginger. The menu is set to constantly evolve and cannot wait for the new additions.
*Not in the mood for Craft Beer? We recommend a double Inverroche Amber Gin on two rocks, with a splash of Fitch & Leedes Indian Tonic. – Editor.
Monday – Wednesday: 10a.m. to 7p.m.
Thursday – Saturday: 10a.m. till late
Sunday: 10am to 3pm
Work Shop New Town, Newtown Junction, corner Miriam Makeba & Gwigwi Mrwebi Streets