From the outside, not much has changed since Love Me So opened during the second half of 2017. The mixologists still mix drinks the same way, the trading hours haven't changed, and part-owner, Fabio Di Cosmo, still occupies the same booth in the corner of the venue. What has changed is the menu. While old favourites have stayed – you can still build your own ramen, the Korean BBQ hasn't been touched and the kimchi is still made in-house – there are some great additions that are bound to become new favourites.
Chef Alex has opted to grow the izakaya section by adding Love Me So pancakes with either crispy pork or shitaki and tofu. Other additions would be the rainbow salad, miso eggplant, and jaga bata (the best damn potato salad you'll ever have in your life). Each new dish on the menu is a declaration of Love Me So's evolution.
One of the biggest changes to the menu is the introduction of curated bowls of ramen. In this section patrons can expect shio chicken, miso tofu and pork tonkotsu – bowls put together with a mixture of Alex's personal taste and customer preferences, and an emphasis on the comfort that comes with a big bowl of ramen noodles. Indeed, consolation is what I feel when sipping on the tonkotsu broth – a taste that transports you to a culinary space where everything is pleasantly tempered with the colour of umami. It is what wine people hope to experience when they spend R2000 on a bottle of Meerlust. It is why red meat fiends beg for one of the precious few seats at LD-R's Short Market Club in Cape Town. It's why I keep returning to Love Me So over and over and over again.
As much as we love sweetcorn soup, Love Me So is not a Chinese takeout, but an homage to Korean, Chinese and Japanese food. Diners can warm up with a chicken wonton soup (made with in-house roasted chicken broth, roast corn, bok choy, and spring onion), and a vegan miso noodle soup. These dishes are perfect for the colder months, but will also be enjoyed well into spring.
Do yourself a favour and go get infatuated with the winter 2018 menu.
By Shawn Greyling
About half-way through 2017, the old video shop in Melville closed after decades of service. Sadly, soon after that we said goodbye to The Leopard (well, it moved to 44 Stanley after a long stint in old town) next door. But as Joburgers know, with change comes chance, and as remodelling started on the building, locals started talking, trying to figure out what new tenants are going to replace the old.
Soon a sign for Perron went up. Awesome! We can all do with more Mexican food (seeing as Cafe Mexicho went the way of the dodo). But next to that, where Andrea Burgener and Nick Gordon had the Leopard, there was still a shroud of mystery. Let's skip forward a couple of months and introduce you to our new favourite ramen hangout in Joburg (We still love you, PRON but these dudes make their own kimchi).
Love Me So is a brand spanking new Japanese, Korean, and Chinese inspired restaurant that serves big bowls of ramen, Korean BBQ, and izakaya (Japanese tapas)... and amazing candy store inspired cocktails - can't forget about that.
That's the hard and fast of it all, for sure but what's Love Me So like? Simply put. It's awesome. As I made my trip from Roodepoort to Melville to try out this place, I asked my Facebook homies if they've been and what they think of the place. The post went mad with all posting raving reviews about the place. Fair enough, ramen is one of the latest food crazes to hit our shores. In fact, did you know that we are four years behind America when it comes to these culinary trends? I did a bit of research and it all started in New York City in and around the Year Of Our Lord, 2013. Anyway (stay focused, Shawn!), Love Me So does not have set dishes of ramen; instead you build your own.
You start by choosing a broth (chicken and sake, mushrooms and miso, or chicken and pork), a protein (pork belly, crispy shredded pork, butter roasted chicken breast, or an aged beef sirloin), and then finish it off with four toppings, such as ramen egg, kimchi, spring onions, beans, slow roasted tomato, and so on and so forth. Now, I can tell you without a doubt that the ramen will blow you away. Chef Alex spent months upon months perfecting these broths, and sources his ramen noodles from a lady who makes her own. The servings are huge, massive. I went in there hungry, thinking that I was going to eat my way through the entire menu (like I did at Rosto in Linden).
To look all fancy and important, here's a bullet point of the ramen I had:
How good does that sound? Exactly.
with mains out of the way, let me introduce you to the Love Me So dessert menu - you might want to sit down for this one. First up we've got a macha tea pana cotta with coconut and macadamia crumbs, black sesame ice cream with honey, vanilla, sesame and squid ink. Wait, it gets better. There's a Japanese cotton cheese cake and a summer fruit platter for the vegans.
In conclusion, it's the kind of place where families can go for dinner, friends can hang out for sundowners, and hipsters can get their ramen on. Good food, great vibe, and lekker service - give it a try.
By Shawn Greyling