All posts by Steve

keenwa

Keenwa Review

Quinoa! (Or Keenwa, as you say).

A bit of a branch out, in terms of food geography, for the Crackernauts this month (wherein “this month” is the March Cracker happening in April due to *cough* scheduling conflicts.) as we braved the on-and-off downpours to head into town to Keenwa for some home-style Peruvian cooking. The vibe as you walk in is friendly and candlelight-y, but as you open the menu to check out what’s the what, you realise that it’s dark. As in break-out-the-torch-what-does-that-even-say dark:

Thankfully, the food all sounded interesting and tasty and different, and we squinted our way to making an order.

Starters

I had the Ceviche Keenwa [1], Jo and Eckhard both had papa a la huancaina con anticuchos [2], and Jess had the trio de causas [3]. All were excellent! The portions were definitely on the generous side for starters. The presentation was great, and a lot more fancy than the “home-style cooking” suggests. The flavours in each dish were fresh: a different set of herbs and spices (and the balancing thereof means) that It Can Haz A Flavour that’s different and distinct.

Mains

I had the Tacu tacu [1], Eckhard had the Lomo Saltado [2], Jess the Adi de gallina [3], and Jo the tallarin con salsa huancaina [4].

The portions here were also pretty big, and neither Jo or I managed to finish our meals. I can confirm that our dishes reheat well and make an excellent brunch! Roughly speaking, the food all seemed kind of familiar (fried rice, stir fry, chicken in a creamy sauce), but with a new twist on the flavours. The tastes were also more subtle and delicate than the starters which were quite punchy by comparison. The general concensus was that the mains were good, but the starters were excellent.

Desserts

Eckhard and I both had Picarones [1], Jo had the Alfajores [2].

The Picarones are butternut and sweet potato doughnut-y things, with a sugary syrup sauce and were nummy and super-crunchy. The Alfajores were soft, squishy, dusty, and tasty. We were all a bit stuffed by then!

In conclusion, Your Honour

Interesting, different feeling and tasting, food.
Worth checking out, especially if you go when it’s still light out! (mutter, grumble, where are my reading spectacles, ooh, me back hurts, etc.)

The scores on the doors (remember, I mark harder than my compadres):

063

Thai World Review

I was looking for a homely, family, Mom ‘n’ Pop sort of place, and Thai World did not disappoint.
(There’s a whole thing about how my choosing was a trauma-laden-ridden-filled thingy, but that’s another story)

The inside is quite charming. You quite clearly get the feeling of English husband and Thai wife: he runs the bar in the front room and she runs the kitchen of nummy food (although my familiarity with the cross-cultural set-up may be tinting my glasses on this one.).
There were bits and bobs of Thai ele- and paraphanelia on the walls and tables that add an air of more Thia-ness to the place: I approve!

The food was really good, but not knock my socks off amazing. Tastes and flavours were, to my buds, quite authentic. Tastiness always trumps authenticity, but it’s nice to have both.
The portions sizes, of the main courses especially, were very generous.

As you may expect from a Thai meal, the sauces were excellent.  A great mix of flavours and strength.
Winning dish for the table was the Duck Red Curry (Kaeng Phed Ped Yang on their menu). It was, pardon my language, amazeballs. Jo became somewhat obsessed over the course of the meal with deconstructing the ingredients and preparation method (“Why is my curry not this good?” was the cry. Fret not, your curries are also amazeballs! Um… That felt weird to say.). (Upon more sober reflection, it was (sort of) decided that the WIN was at least partially due to Duck Fat ™)


(Note to self, must take CrackPicting more seriously!)

My only complaint was the speed of the service: a little bit too slow to be called leisurely. We got the impression that a lot of the other clientèle were regulars, and the fact that they were in and out while we were still there gave the impression that they were being favoured over us a bit. To be fair to them, the lady owner did say that our mains took a while longer because of the steamed fish. To be fair to us, if we’d have been told that we would’ve asked stuff to be brought out as it was ready. Not a train smash, but something to bear in mind.

So, these score thingies of which you speak…
(I’m trying to score more harshly than the other Crackstefarians: 5 means average. 10 means OMGBBQ. 1 means killmenow.)

Xiang Yuan Review

Most of my ongoing missions in life involve food. This pleases me.
One of them is to find good Dim Sum places in Cape Town.
My current winner is U-Seng in Table View (which is another story in itself), but Xiang Yuan provides a good local alternative.

The decor inside is that classic “basic but clean” look. Slightly skanky lookin’, to be honest. I have a particular penchant for places that have good food but very simple decor (such as Jewel Tavern when it was in the docks). The other Crackernauts tend to err more of the side of posh, which only encourages me to bring the skank back in. It enhances that “hidden gem” feeling for me.

We often like to get recommendations, and the staff at Xiang Yuan were friendly, helpful, and made excellent suggestions. Alas, it has been a few weeks since we were there, and my memory of individual dishes has faded. We had a mix of Dim Sum from their big and varied menu, and added the much-loved duck and pancakes combo to the table. Everything was excellent, and the prices were good (and very reasonable compared to big names like Simply Asia or Tong Lok).

Atmosphere: 4 / 10 (Not great. TV on in an unavoidable place. Lights kinda bright.)
Staff: 7 / 10 (Friendly, slightly surprised, very helpful with the recommendations.)
Service: 6 / 10 (Good, but not great. Solid, but not shining.)
Food: 7 / 10 (Good Dim Sum (wide selection, all tasty), excellent duck.)
Value for money: 8 / 10 (Competitively priced)