When it was announced that Joburg’s So Yum restaurant was joining forces with Cape Town institution Hemelhuijs, the collaboration, at first, seemed unusual. So Yum, part of the Thai Africa group, is renowned for its dim sum and specialty Asian dishes. Hemelhuijs, owned by Jacques Erasmus, presents a curated selection of breakfasts and lunches, inspired by Cape farm cuisine. But when you visit Hemelhuijs X So Yum for breakfast, it doesn’t seem unusual at all. In fact, the two seemingly disparate restaurants and their menus work beautifully together.
What becomes clear when you order, say, the soft mieliepap served with local honey and salted butter, or the toasted mosbolletjie bread with perfectly poached egg, hollandaise and roasted artichoke, or even when you slip onto the Asian side of the breakfast menu and try the Japanese soft porridge with mirin-poached eggs, is that while Hemelhuijs and So Yum’s cuisines originated in different parts of the world, they share a respect for produce and flawless technique, an appreciation for heritage, and dishes that are inventive and downright delicious.
So, what brought these two restaurants together to create Hemelhuijs X So Yum? When So Yum moved from its old spot in Hyde Park to its new, light-filled premises on the other side of the mall, they needed to add a breakfast menu to their line-up. Previously they’d just opened for lunch and dinner, but it was a unique opportunity for Thai Africa’s Ernst Fischer to bring one of his favourite Cape Town restaurants to the North.
Both teams gave gone all-in on the collaboration, with Chef Thuli from Hemelhuijs based at the Hemelhuijs X So Yum restaurant until December, Chef Elizna visiting to conduct on-site training and Jacques Erasmus regularly spending time at the establishment. The kitchen was designed to support the two menus – servicing the cooking of the breakfast menu in the morning and switching over to a full Eastern-focused kitchen for lunch and dinner service.
“We’ve subtly introduced the Hemelhuijs identity to So Yum with small details and gentle touches,” says Jacques. The menu card and table settings incorporate the signature Hemelhuijs designs, and the exquisite Hemelhuijs Home Collection (items of which are showcased on the table and used through service) are available in-store. Hemelhuijs’ gem-bright fresh juices are also available during the breakfast service.
“I’m very excited to be introducing our first culinary foray in Johannesburg,” says Jacques, “and I’m delighted that we can collaborate with our old friends at So Yum to introduce our unique flavour to a new context.”