Quirky, fun and vibey indoor market at the old Hout Bay harbour, filled to the brim with local curio’s, art, jewellery, crafts, one-of-a-kind clothing articles and a food court second to none! Add this one to your “must do’s in Cape Town” bucket list as it’s right up there with Table Mountain and Robben Island. This is where the hippest of Cape Town’s residents meet friends for a bite to eat and some good ol’ tunes.
Three course meal…
I am a self-confessed sucker for a food market. From Cape Town to Mombasa and Stone Town to Chiang Mai, I’ve meticulously and systematically sought them all out. A food market is the place where you shake hands with the city and say, “Nice to meet you; I would like to get to know you better.” It tells stories through the smells of fresh bread and shares secrets through the heady aroma of buttery cakes and pastries. A food market speaks of culture through the clang of wine glasses and the fizz-pop of opening beer bottles. It invites you in and entices you with local delicacies. It transports you to foreign countries through cheesy pizzas, syrupy waffles, meaty sandwiches and dainty cups of espresso.
Obviously an offer for brunch at the Bay Harbour market could (and should!) not be refused. I headed out with a friend, who hasn’t been to the market before. What a pleasure – I get to introduce her to one of the little gems in Cape Town and indulge in my inner foodie!
As expected, her nose lead her straight past the merchandise into the food court, where we both did a few dumbstruck pirouettes to take it all in. In times like these, I wish my eyes had a panorama feature. Modern, rustic tables and benches line the middle of the floor, surrounded on both sides with a checkerboard of food stalls, each with its own purposeful display of produce. Beautiful bunches of carefully arranged fresh flowers on each table, and massive wooden chandeliers dapple the eating area in the softest downlight.
We clapped our hands together in glee and did the rounds. I’ve done this a hundred times before; I must have taken the same photos a hundred times before, but it never gets old. What I like most, is that you can peruse the food stalls in your own time and space, whilst happy foodies lazily chomp away at the tables. Each to his own. We did the rounds twice, and now my very indecisive friend is in a predicament: the predicament of all times – what shall I eat?
My market-mantra is simple: little bits of everything. I should practice what I preach, because today I’ve come here for one very specific dish. A dish I eat nowhere else: dim-sum from Tao’s Chinese Kitchen.
Tao makes things easy for you: he puts together sample platters with a little bit of everything, and you just choose combination A, B, C or D. His platters are completely customisable and he is happy to swap and change if you need to. Simple food, made so good. Winning combinations for the dim sum: pork and leek, stir-fried veggies, chicken. And other sea creature fillings I don’t eat. I totally skip those. The pork buns, oh, the pork buns! Fluffy and warm and gooey and juicy and flavourful, with lashings of soy sauce…it’s like eating a slow-cooked pork-filled cloud, but even more heavenly. Duck pancakes – delicately put together little wraps of pure nomminess and crunchy spring rolls – it really doesn’t get better than this! My friend opted for a plate laden with chicken chow-mein. Simple, fresh food at decent prices. You’re welcome.
The other food stall I would like to give an honourary mention, is just two doors down: The Pickled Popper. Now, I will pretty much move mountains for a spicy, crunchy, creamy jalapeno popper, but the Pickled Popper took these little feisty peppers to a whole new level. Ten different taste sensations are on offer, including Four Cheese, Bacon & Blue, Sundried Tomato Pesto, Chorizo and Chilli Prawn. Their exhibit is done simply and tastefully (no pun intended!). It looks modern and minimalistic, and the poppers are most certainly centerpieces of the display, each on its own little pedestal. They also supplement their offerings with a range of Mexican cuisine including quesadillas, burritos, nachos and tacos. And then…and then…the deep fried Oreos and Bar Ones. Yep. We had to buy a plate of deep fried Oreos for the road! The poppers are R20 each, or 3 for R50. The deep fried Oreos are a steal at R25 for four little pockets of pure indulgence.
We left the market with full tummies and happy faces. We couldn’t go home empty-handed, so we picked up a few pieces of baklava for the road.
Even the pickiest of eaters will find something here to their taste as the food options not only cover vegetarian, but also include banting and gluten-free options. And if you can’t find something to eat, there is plenty to drink, good tunes to bop to, and plenty of other treasure troves to explore!
Meet Amilinda Wilkinson
Amilinda Wilkinson is a small town girl with big dreams. She is a nature geek, total foodie, devoted wife and mother to furry children. When she's not at the office, she explores, writes about, photographs and indulges in this fragile adventure we call life.
Read more from Amilinda on her blog The Little Hedonist.