THE SECRET EATERY AT NO.12 (AND OTHER POP-UPS)

Or, The culinary hideaway around a corner near you

By Nikita Singh 4 October 2019

Paella de Mariscos at La Boqueria’s Paella Sundays. Photo: La Boqueria

Culinary gems are hiding around every corner in Joburg. Suburban houses and dive bars conceal trendy dining hotspots. This weekend, try these Jozi eateries offering an epicurean adventure.

When you arrive at No. 12, you might think you’re at the wrong address. Outside, it appears to be a normal residential home in the Melville suburbs. Inside, it’s a quirky urban jungle, home to Joburg’s coolest pop-up restaurant, Glory.

No.12 has evolved into a collaborative space to provide a platform for new chefs. Every 12 weeks, there’s a kitchen handover, and a new chef brings their individual culinary style to the menu.

The current pop-up, Glory, is run by a powerhouse team. Chef Nick Scott (of Great Eastern Food Bar fame), engineer-turned-chef Hiren Makkan, and former private chef Jessie Doveton combine cultural influences to create fusion cuisine with an Asian flavour profile.

The intimate pop-up restaurant at No.12. Photo: Nikita Singh

Our menu evolves on a week-to-week basis,” says Makkan. The menu incorporates fresh, seasonal ingredients, like asparagus, bok choy, green papaya, with Southeast-Asian flavours. Their fresh produce is sourced from Jong de Jong, a farmer based in Springs, who grows produce for the Joburg Thai community.

Undoubtedly, Glory’s greatest accomplishment lies in making Brussels sprouts the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Here, the notorious vegetable is roasted and caramelised with a sweet, spicy glaze to shatter all previous Brussels sprout conceptions.

Southeast Asian flavours at Glory pop-up restaurant. Photo: Glory

Glory started as a pop-up fried chicken joint on 7th Street, and their fried chicken wings remain a crowd favourite. An unbelievably crunchy coating and chilli-garlic glaze make these chicken wings quite possibly the best in Joburg.

The chefs at No.12 manage to create diverse, flavourful dishes in a narrow kitchen about the size of a food truck. Innovative cooking methods, like an outdoor coal-fire, help to develop a unique smoky flavour. “It’s a great medium to work with. You get a lot of depth of flavour from cooking on coals,” says Makkan. Delicate ingredients like asparagus, tofu, and river prawns are char-grilled and finished with citrus or fresh greens for a harmonious, balanced flavour.

In addition to providing a platform for new chefs, No.12 partners with local suppliers to support and showcase their work. They collaborate with artists, like collage artist Danii Strydom, to create quirky and dynamic Instagram artwork. The earthy stone crockery at No.12 was handmade by ceramicist Caroline Schulz Vieira.

No.12 is open from Thursday to Saturday for dinner, Saturday and Sunday for lunch, and Monday night for noodles. The Glory pop-up will run until the end of October when a new chef’s kitchen takeover will run for 12 weeks.

Spicy caramelised Brussels sprouts at Glory. Photo: Glory

No. 12 isn’t the only trendy hangout in Melville. This year, Melville was listed as one of the world’s Top 50 Coolest Neighbourhoods by international city guide Time Out. If you’re in the neighbourhood this weekend, you have to swing past 7th Street for Melville First Sundays, held on the first Sunday of every month.

Bar-hopping along 7th Street, pop in for lunch specials at La Stalla and half-price cocktails at Love Me So. And if you’re brave enough to don a tropical tiki shirt, you’ll get 10% off your bill at the Tiny Tiki Bar.

However, if it’s fresh seafood you’re after, look no further than La Boqueria’s Paella Sundays. The Spanish-inspired eatery in Parktown North is a slice of Barcelona in Johannesburg.

On the first Sunday of every month, the eatery hosts a paella day. La Boqueria’s paella uses sustainable linefish and is slow-cooked in a traditional coal oven for an authentic smoky flavour.

Guests have a choice of three signature paellas: two made in the coal oven, and one cooked in a giant paella pan on the veranda by head chef Kyle Blows.

The seafood speciality, Paella de Mariscos, includes paprika and chilli prawns, linefish, mussels, calamari, braised leeks, roasted red peppers, and spicy tomato rice.

The Valenciana Paella has squid ink rice, deboned chicken, smoked pork neck, kingklip, smoked salmon, mussels, braised green beans, pickled patty pans and marinated shimeji mushrooms. The unique flavour combination produces a smoky umami flavour profile with jet black rice.

Caramelised Brussels sprouts or rich, hearty paella: Joburg’s got you covered with gourmet finds this weekend. DM

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