If anyone else was bringing a breakfast menu to Joburg to complement the Asian-inspired menu at So Yum in Hyde Park it might not be a noteworthy event, but the mention of Jacques Erasmus and Hemelhuijs makes this entirely a different story.
Hemelhuijs (meaning sky or indeed heavenly house) is an extraordinary cafe in Cape Town set in a considered space. Founder Jacques Erasmus is a modern-day explorer known for showcasing his beautiful finds both in food and decor, turning what would otherwise be just a space to eat into an ever-shifting pageant of the seasons, as much in evidence on the plate as they are in your surroundings.
From each item of tableware – glass laboratory flasks bearing freshly pressed juices and textured and embossed ceramic plates – to the dramatic black flakes of salt served up by a gold-tipped ceramic spoon that accompany your meal, the experience of eating is certainly heightened by the beauty of what’s on the table. Although, frankly if the dishes here were served on enamel flatware from the OK Bazaars they would still be worth returning for.
Erasmus’s speciality is conjuring delicate flavours from hearty Cape farm food, dishing up plates inspired as much by Cape Dutch heritage as by global cuisine.
So Yum has been a Hyde Park institution for a number of years and has recently relocated from the side corridor of the shopping complex to a bright, new, and more spacious and stylish location in the centre. Here you'll also find an elegant display of Hemelhuijs's homeware range which includes luxurious linen tea towels and finely crafted porcelain items, in-keeping with Hyde Park Corner prices.
For breakfast, start with the mosbolletjie loaf (a traditional sweet farm bread) served with cultured cream and marmalade. The freshly baked smell has even been captured in a scented candle that is part of the Hemelhuijs Homeware range. Please don't sniff it at the store as the smell is so heavenly pleasant you'll find it's hard to take your nose out so you can get on with eating your meal. The elegant homemade potato rosti is a thin and crispy layer of goodness topped with exotic mushrooms and avocado, while the hollandaise served with roasted artichoke dish is exceptional.
The dishes are well-priced (on average around R80) encouraging a sharing of plates as there are far too many interesting choices. We also tried the roasted pears in double cream yoghurt with jammy blueberries and shards of almond praline that could set a new requirement of dessert for breakfast. There was no space on the table for the soft mieliepap with local honey and salted butter but it’s on the list of many reasons to return. There is also a small but enticing Asian breakfast menu for savoury fiends that includes traditional morning dim sum, a teriyaki salmon or a shredded duck omelette. The full So Yum Asian kitchen opens from 11:30.
Service is warm and friendly and when asking for recommendations you can be assured the person you are talking to has tried the dish by their level on enthusiasm.
While eating in a mall wouldn't usually be our most recommended option in Joburg as we do encourage exploration of the city – the heaven on a plate served up here will stop you from noticing and is fully endorsed by us.