Every now and then a restaurant comes along that everyone rants and raves about. In the past, I've found this fairly frustrating. You know, it's like when someone hypes up a movie and eventually you get around to watching it and it ends up being sub-par. The same thing happened with the opening of Great Eastern Food Bar. People wanted to tell me about it, but their excitement was interrupted with a "Nope, no. I don't want to know anything about it." So, almost a year after its arrival on the delicate Melville culinary scene, I decided to go check it out. I deliberately did not read up about it. For all I knew, it could have been a sushi place where they serve Smarties with every order of avo maki. Spoiler alert: It's not a sushi bar... as if Joburg needs another one of those.
The Great Eastern Food Bar is hidden on top of the Bamboo Centre on 9th Street in Melville. It's an eatery with a diverse menu, kitted out to tantalise the taste buds of even the weirdest food critics around town. Spoilt for choice, their food items boast an eclectic mix of Asian-inspired dishes from dim sum, smoked trout steamed buns to bowls of Ramen. Other dishes found on the meal include green papaya salad, Phat Thai, rice cakes and a variety of vegetarian meals. It's pretty much a mixture between Chinese, South Korean and Thai cuisine. So, you can expect bao bun fusion of note. Besides, who doesn't like a good steamed bun every now and then, eh? Exactly. And that's what their buns are like – good. See, cutting people off when they wanted to tell me about the Great Eastern Food Bar has kept my expectations neutral, which weirdly made the food taste better.
I am a simple man. Give me a naartjie and some bourbon for dessert and I'll be content with life. But every now and then I like to indulge in something a little more... exciting. The restaurant serves a wide variety of desserts, including chilli-chocolate mousse and a quirky custard jar that had my girlfriend hanging off her chair in excitement. The Great Eastern Food Bar also make full use of their balcony, where diners can enjoy their meal while overlooking the Melville skyline.
Lest me be a hypocrite, I don't want to get your hopes up. Rather go check it out for yourself before I drop my conclusion on this Asian restaurant. Note that their food is priced in the, well, Melville restaurant price bracket. If you think something costs R80, add R50 on top of that. It's not too bad but it's not cheap either.
In conclusion, The Great Eastern Food Bar in Melville is a great place to take your palate on a South-East Asian trip without stepping foot outside of Jozi. The vibe is lekker times ten, the service fast and friendly, and the menu worthy of two thumbs up.