A couple Tuesdays ago, Marky Mark and The Jen treated themselves to a little taste of home at Shaka Zulu Restaurant in vibey Camden, London...
A little while ago The Phreak sent me a Groupon Deal for a "Taste of Africa" meal at the new Shaka Zulu Restaurant which boasts some authentic South African cuisine. With the amount of hype surrounding the new restaurant which had the likes of Amy Winehouse and our own Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini in attendance for the opening night, I thought we'd give it a shot.
So The Jen met me at Bank Station after work one evening and up the Northern Line to Camden we cruised. As we drew closer to the vicinity of the restaurant, it was seriously hard to miss due to the massive Zulu statues outside and not to mention the friendly dude banging his drum outside the front door. From the second you walk through the front door the awesomeness starts hitting you full on. Lets just say, I can't remember the last time I walked into a restaurant that had its own escalator leading to the reception area, but that's nothing compared to awe-inspiring decor that fills your optical viewing area where you quite honestly find yourself paused for a minute or two while you take it all in, until your moment is interupted by the voice of a friendly smiling face behind the reception desk. After handing our coats in we were ushered to our table in front of the kitchen downstairs via another set of escalators. Believe me when I tell you, this place is big, and it resembles something like a small shopping centre however the decor absolutely knocks the socks off anywhere you've ever been to before, it's truly magnificient and so well crafted that every inch of every wall is covered with its own piece of African theme. While you sit there taking in the surroundings, you find yourself wondering how long it must have taken them to completely fit the place out and of course at what cost... rumor has it they spent a small £5.5 million, of course you'll see for yourself that every penny went well spent. The restaurant wasn't at all busy when we got there although given that, it was 7pm on a Tuesday and did start filling up quite nicely throughout the time we were there.
With the Groupon Deal, we were given a set menu of three courses with about three choices per course and a glass of sparkling wine which wasn't too bad as the choices were pretty good. Shortly after we were seated we were served with complimentry slices of biltong and other snacks. For Starters The Jen and I had the Cape Malay Pickled Fish which to be quite honest, me being an extremely fussy eater, I've never been a fan of cooked food that is served cold, but for the first time ever, I quite enjoyed the potent tangy flavour of fish. After the starters our glasses were empty so we scanned the wine list and ordered a bottle of Graham Beck "The Game" Chenin Blanc 2009 all the way from Stellies which in the end, went down very well 🙂 lets just say, I can polish off half a bottle of Jack and still be perfectly fine, but give me two glasses of wine and that's me, tickets!... I start slurring after the first glass 🙂 I was keen on the £950 bottle of Krug Clos Du Mesnil 1996, but The Jen said no 🙂 For mains The Jen went for the lamb and I decided to have something I haven't had since I was about 12 when I was still living at home with the ballies, and that my friends, was Bobotie with basmati rice. The Bobotie arrived in its own ceramic bowl that it had been cooked in so it was piping hot, and as soon as the delicious flavours spread their way through my taste buds, I was sent on an awesome journey down memory lane of awesome childhood memories growing up in the Drakensberg, it's amazing how sometimes a smell or a taste can trigger those sort of things. Lets just say I klapped that Bobotie stukkend klaar! If that ceramic bowl still wasn't so hot by the end of it, I probably would have licked it! Much to The Jen's disgust of course 🙂 As we continued through our bottle of vino our desert arrived, which to be fair was our only real disappointment as far as the food was concerned. We'd both decided to go for the Melk Tert, because to be honest, what South African in their right mind is ever going to pass up an opportunity on some Milk Tart, however sadly it was quite apparent that whoever made the "Milk Tart", hadn't spent a day in South Africa or taken the time to purchase a Milk Tart from the various South African shops in London to see what is should be like. Forgive me for sounding brutal but you can't have a South African Restaurant and expect to fool South African patrons with their own all time favourite desert. What we received on our plate at first glance resembled Milk Tart, however as soon as my spoon attempted to slice through it, it became apparent that this was more like a cross between Cheese Cake and Fudge cake... the milky part was slightly softer than fudge, a bit of a disappointment as I was really looking forward to it. That was our only complaint regarding the food, but other than that the food was exceptionally tasty and highly recommended.
My only other complaints were that if you are short, make sure you ask for a booth or something, because if you were not blessed with long legs, you may find that you have no-where to put your feet due to the slanted shape and width of the table base which wasn't the end of the world, but it did cause a slight bit of discomfort from time to time. The other thing which came close to some kid kicking the back of your chair on an airplane, was there seemed to be a loose floor board that my chair rested on, everytime someone walked behind me I was given a bit of a bump due to the slight seesaw motion of the floor board. Very minor things that can be easily remedied and nothing to even really slightly spoil your evening, but if I'm going to spend 2 hrs in a chair at a restaurant I'd like to be absolutely comfortable.
Overall the experience was absolutely amazing and I give Shaka Zulu top marks for what they have created and what they are doing. It's definitely somewhere I will be returning to however next time I'd like to try out the full menu. Looking at the full menu, it isn't cheap but given the surroundings, quality and class of the venue, it's a small price to pay. If you want to take your missus out for dinner and don't mind dining with a bunch of chav's in cheap surroundings with no class whatsoever, then there's a number of Cafe's around for you to enjoy, but I can't guarantee you'll ever get action again after that 🙂
So do yourself a favour and make a little trip up to Camden for an awesome evening and enjoy a sense of feeling at home... Ou's, trust me, this place is a winner for you to take the dolly to, The Jen absolutely loved it 🙂
This was us in the lift on the way out... The Jen smiling and me looking a little dopped 🙂