QUIET ALCHEMY

A mas­ter of dis­tilled sim­plic­ity, Hemel­huijs owner Jac­ques Eras­mus has brought his cre­ative flair to Jo’burg in a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ernst Fis­cher’s restau­rant So Yum. Hemel­huijs x So Yum cel­e­brates a cross-pol­li­na­tion of culi­nary and aes­thetic in­flu­ences

Elle Decoration (South Africa) - - EATS - Text and pro­duc­tion FIONA DAVERN Pho­to­graphs ANNALIZE NEL

At Hemel­huijs, the so­phis­ti­cated ap­proach to tra­di­tional Cape farm cui­sine has been draw­ing a cult-like fol­low­ing to its Waterkant Street café for al­most a decade. Cus­tomers re­turn re­peat­edly to sat­isfy deep crav­ings for de­li­ciously nos­tal­gic dishes like toasted mos­bol­letjie loaf with cul­tured cream and hand­made apri­cot jam, all pre­sented with Jac­ques Eras­mus’s sig­na­ture style rem­i­nis­cent of a pared-back Rem­brandt still-life.

It was serendip­ity that Hemel­huijs x So Yum came into be­ing. A dim sum and noo­dle bar that had oc­cu­pied a smaller space down­stairs at Jo’burg’s Hyde Park Cor­ner Shopping Cen­tre for many years, So Yum was mov­ing to larger premises up­stairs, but one of the re­quire­ments of the lease was a break­fast of­fer­ing. ‘So Yum had never had break­fast on the menu be­fore,’ says Ernst Fis­cher, who’s be­hind a string of ac­claimed Asian restau­rants in SA in­clud­ing Wangthai, Chaiyo and Saigon (the first Viet­namese restau­rant in the coun­try). ‘Ini­tially, I was look­ing at what other break­fast spots were do­ing, but I wanted to present it dif­fer­ently. We needed to make sense of why an Asian dim sum tea­house noo­dle bar would do break­fast. So I called Jac­ques, whom I’ve known since his Manna Epi­cure days, and he flew up the next day.’

Fis­cher and Eras­mus, who comes from a chef back­ground and is also a food con­sul­tant, met for break­fast and shook on their new ven­ture that morn­ing. While it was prompted by a pedes­trian pre­req­ui­site, Hemel­huijs x So Yum was el­e­vated by the de­sire to cre­ate some­thing new and unique, yet re­solved. The core break­fast of­fer­ing is from Hemel­huijs, but the menu fea­tures a few Asian­in­spired dishes, in­clud­ing shred­ded duck omelettes with ex­otic mush­rooms, bean shoots and chilli, as well as morn­ing dim sum. Lunchtime sees the menu tip back to­wards an em­pha­sis on So Yum, with a se­lec­tion of Hemel­huijs x So Yum sal­ads that can be as­sem­bled on a va­ri­ety of bases such as raw shaved veg­eta­bles and pear or beet­root with a flavour­some Ja­panese dress­ing.

At Hemel­huijs in Cape Town, Eras­mus is known for adapt­ing the decor to suit the sea­sonal mood, re­paint­ing in­te­ri­ors, cre­at­ing fea­ture walls or even cov­er­ing the ceil­ing with dried hy­drangeas. ‘We’ve sub­tly in­tro­duced the Hemel­huijs iden­tity to So Yum with small de­tails,’ says Eras­mus. From the de­sign and im­agery on the menu to the Gold Col­lec­tion ceramic spoons on the ta­bles, its aes­thetic DNA is present and will shift as the sea­sons change.

The Hemel­huijs Home­ware Col­lec­tion, which in­cludes hand­made ceramic table­ware and over­sized to­bacco jars fea­tur­ing lim­ited-edi­tion Ella Lou O’Meara de­signs, oc­cu­pies a re­tail nook at the restau­rant, so cus­tomers can pur­chase their favourite pieces.

Eras­mus de­scribes the cross-pol­li­na­tion be­tween Hemel­huijs and So Yum as ‘an evo­lu­tion’ that will grad­u­ally blos­som. ‘We’re still in that space of try­ing to cross over and it’s go­ing to hap­pen more and more,’ adds Fis­cher. ‘If you look at Jac­ques’s plat­ing, it’s con­structed and then de­con­structed. It’s dif­fer­ent, whereas Asian plat­ing is very pre­cise and or­dered. I’d like to mix that up and move more to­wards a mod­ern style.’ ‘It’s ex­ploratory,’ says Eras­mus, ‘and we’re slowly feel­ing our way.’

It’s this ex­per­i­men­tal spirit and in­no­va­tive ap­proach that in­vari­ably pro­duce mem­o­rable meals and have both de­voted pa­trons and new guests com­ing back for more.

Hemel­huijs x So Yum break­fast is served Mon­day-Sun­day from 8am-12pm. Shop 24, Mid­dle Mall, Hyde Park Cor­ner, cnr Jan Smuts Ave & Wil­liam Ni­col Drive. 011 325 5360

this page Hemel­huijs x So Yum ex­plores the in­ter­play be­tween Eastern and West­ern culi­nary and aes­thetic in­flu­ences. The por­ridges are served in stoneware crock­ery from Hemel­huijs’s Gold Col­lec­tion and Sepia Col­lec­tion. op­po­site (top) Res­tau­ra­teurs Jac­ques Eras­mus and Ernst Fis­cher.

(from left) Hand-painted Bo­eren­delft Ship­wreck deep plate, R1 950, fine bone china geisha teacups and saucers, R300 each, large blue and white Asian-in­flected ab­stract vase, R6 900, Raku teabowl, R440 and porce­lain lab­o­ra­tory dishes, R100 each, all The Hemel­huijs Home­ware Col­lec­tion, avail­able at Hemel­huijs x So Yum

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