A fervent patron of the chain back home in South Africa, I relished in the thought of sampling its savoury offerings once again. Upon arrival, I was amazed at the sheer enormity of the restaurant – spanning two floors in its central London location, and seating up to 220 people.
The restaurant really is magnificent, with a considerably large predator fish tank playing home to an array of marine fishes, and a shark to boot. The proprietor, Pieter van Vuuren, a South African native, told me that the venture cost a whopping £2.5 million in décor alone, as they shipped the original seating to the slate floor tiles, from South Africa, to create a home away from home feel. A massive feat to bring a little taste of Cape Town to those of us shadowed by the grey skies of London.
The conveyor belt sushi island affords diners a fun and convenient experience, perfect for a quick lunch on the go. Van Vuuren tells me that it is full within an hour of the doors opening for business. And no wonder, its chefs are top class, and their tasty works of art, keep you coming back for more and more. I devoured my salmon roses and prawn fashion sandwiches as a starter, even contemplated skipping the main course, so as to cram my belly with sashimi until I burst!
Though, I am glad I left room for my prawn and calamari combo, with a side of fried rice and a fresh Greek salad. I am convinced that the recipes and spices are identical to those back home, because for a brief moment, as I peeled the shells of my succulent prawns, and glanced around the room, I felt as if I was back home at The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. I could almost imagine the sounds of the waves crashing in the background and an intense feeling of nostalgia overwhelmed me.
The meals are not absurdly priced, and the menu is very similar to the one back home, including such favourites as the seafood potjies and live Teppanyaki cooking stations. I was in awe at the comprehensive wine list, and even had a guided tour of the wine cellar, which contains a host of great wines from South Africa, only to be found at the restaurant.
As my dinner companions and I sipped slowly on our refreshing Savannahs, and savoured our fishy feast, we all agreed the venue transcended boundaries – and oceans alike. Our meal was phenomenal to say the least, and we all made sure to order something different off the menu to get a true sample of the diverse menu. Firm favourites of the evening were the char-grilled squid and the creamy mussel potjie- pot. Natasha also added that the surf and turf is a must-have – gloriously announcing that the tender ribs were ‘an orgasm on a bone’. Following the main course was an order of melktert all-round – a little piece of heaven in an already magical night.
As we stepped out of the restaurant into the chilled night air, I was once again reminded of where I was – downtown London. City slickers whizzed past me under the amber street lights, in their rush for the tube home. I took a deep breath in and filled my lungs with the sweet aromas of my beloved Cape Town, and bid goodnight to a little piece of home.