The local for those of us who live in Mowbray, Cape Town is The Fat Cactus, great for beers and frozen margaritas but not the most accomplished kitchen in the world. Also in Durban Road, there is Chai Yo, source of reliable Thai and Curry Quest for good, unadorned Indian. Which to choose for lunch today?
We instead opted for Park’s, a Korean restaurant, of unpresupposing signage and seemingly always empty despite being open for the last 10 months. What the hell, let’s take a walk on the wild side.
The place is run by JH and Kay Park, who immigrated to South Africa because, as Kay explains, she wanted a better life for her children. “It’s excessively competitive academically in Korea. My children are happy here and that makes me happy, too.”
Park’s is no Mouille Point Wakame (no danger of bumping into B-list celebrities) but the food is good to very good. We shared starter portions of steamed chicken dumplings (R43), fried pork dumplings (R47) and deep fried prawns (R39) followed by a main portion of Galbi (slow-cooked beef short ribs and vegetables marinated in soy sauce). To call the food homely is not faint praise but to suggest that it is cooked with a lack of pretention. All the dishes provide plenty of honest flavour, the fried pork dumplings approaching excellent. Delicious side-dishes of Kimchi and bean-sprouts in peanut oil, too.
The restaurant is licensed but there’s no wine-list. Might we have some wine? JH excused himself only to re-appear with a motley array of Sauvignon Blanc out of the fridge, including at least one label I’d never heard of. Freedom Hill 2009 (R100 a bottle) came brandished with a Wine magazine Best Value 2011 sticker, endorsement enough for me. Wine of origin Stellenbosch, it showed ripe green melon fruit and soft acidity making it all too quaffable. The lean, savoury Glen Carlou Tortoise Hill Red 2007 (R110) was an appropriate match with the short ribs.