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Cape Town is a favorite gourmet destination, but where do the city's award-winning chefs eat when they're done plating up foie gras? We asked Malika van Reenan, executive chef at Cape Grace hotel's well regarded Signal Restaurant for her top haunts. "At the end of a long day, I generally want something uncomplicated with a lot of flavor." Here's her go-to dining list where she and her chef friends take off their toques:

Chef Pons Asian Kitchen -- The buzz is if you're hungry and on a budget, Chef Pons will set you right. "I love the way it smells when you walk in," notes van Reenan. "You know it's going to be tasty," she says of the pan Asian restaurant serving everything from Malaysian to Mongolian. There is actually a Chef Pons in the kitchen and Van Reenan's favorite dish includes Mussaman beef curry with vegetable fried rice and Thai chili basil beef. (12 Mill Street, Gardens, Cape Town; tel. 011/27/021 465 5846; www.chefponsasiankitchen.co.za)

Minato Sushi -- Nothing fancy except the quality of the fish, notes van Reenan, of this Japanese joint that only seats 35 customers a night. While the sushi list is short in part due to South Africa's brisk seafood export business, only the freshest in sizable portions are served. Mr. Minato, the sushi master, or Mrs. Minato, who runs the dining room, will kick you out if they run out of fish ... or get tired. (4 Buiten Street; tel. 011/27021 423 4712)

Biesmiellah -- Being of Cape Malay heritage, van Reenan is picky about her Cape Muslim cuisine. Biesmeillah, located in the colorful Malay Bo-Kaap district, passes her test for spicy Cape Malay specialties like mutton Salome (lamb curry wrapped up in flat bread) and chicken byriani. Van Reenan has a soft spot for their masala steak sandwich made with layers of grilled steak, fries, egg salad, and a special spicy sauce. (2 Upper Wale Street; tel. 011/27/021 423 0850; www.biesmiellah.co.za)

Bukhara -- An institution for more than a decade and now with four area outposts, van Reenan visits this North Indian restaurant's original city location less for its dark exotic décor and more for a serving of their famous butter chicken. The lamb saag and prawn masala are favorites along with requisite sides of cumin flavored pilaf and cucumber raita. (33 Church Street; tel. 011/27/021/424-0000; www.bukhara.com)

Ginga -- Award-winning restaurateur, Mike Basset's fine dining Ginga serves international fusion in a French brasserie meets Asian warehouse atmosphere. The restaurant occupies the bottom floor while his lounge, Shoga, is located upstairs. It made Van reenan's list as the place to go when she wants to dress up and be delighted by the menu, most recently a rosemary and tomato risotto with grilled langoustines. (121 Castle Street; tel. 011/27/021/426-2368; www.ginja.cjb.net)

Manna Epicure -- Don't let the all white décor fool you into thinking you've walked into a spa. This beautiful yet casual space is where locals like van Reenan like to catch up with friends for lunch. The menu is divided into Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Savory, and Hot sections but it's the tantalizing breads -- van Reenan's favorite is rye with fruit and nuts -- that keep her coming back almost every week. (151 Kloof Street; tel. 011/27/021/426-2413)

Lazari Food Gallery -- No chef's list is complete without a great place for eggs and coffee, not to mention other breakfast treats. "It's seriously the best French toast in Cape Town," says Van Reenan. And the nice sunny room with mismatched furniture is like visiting a friend; a perfect setting to enjoy the mind blowing pink vanilla cupcakes. (221 Upper Buitenkant Street; tel. 011/27/021/4619865)

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