This weekend, me and the boyfriend decided to take advantage of the empty flat in London before my sister moves in and have a weekend away to celebrate my birthday. We’ve both been so busy the last few weekends, we figured it would be good to get away and do something fun. We had originally planned to go to Zoo Lates, which is the late night opening at London Zoo where they have cabaret and entertainment, but sadly didn’t get tickets in time. I checked my phone while at work in the week and had a hilarious text from Mark saying he hadn’t managed to get the tickets so he had booked a table at Shaka Zulu, the South African restaurant in Camden Market so we could “eat the fuckers instead”.
Never one to pass up an opportunity for a good meal out at a fabulous restaurant, I was pretty excited to say the least. I had never really eaten much South African food but knew that I would like it, and after knowing others who had been to the restaurant and hearing rave reviews, I was certain we were in for a treat. Amusingly, Michelle Keegan was celebrating her birthday there the same night I was, although I’m sure she was on the champagne. We headed to the Tiki Bar first for a cheeky Pimms in the sunshine, while live singers performed. It was such a gorgeous sunny day and the Pimms just put us in the summer mood.
We arrived at the restaurant and were taken straight to our own booth, on the way to our table I couldn’t help but just stare at everything around me. Shaka Zulu is beautifully decorated from top to bottom, with giant statues of South African warriors, tribesmen and animals, engraved and carved walls with gorgeous designs and the most fantastic furniture – I was in love with the chairs! The service was amazing, I felt like we had our own personal team of waiters ready to jump if we needed anything and eager to recommend dishes. I couldn’t resist visiting the ladies, just to have a walk around the rest of the restaurant, which was equally impressive with a champagne bar, massive group tables downstairs and another gorgeous bar. Meanwhile, Mark chose us a delicious South African wine which went beautifully with the food.More importantly, what did we eat? Well, we went all out guys, both starving and desperate for some really tasty food. We decided to eat our way around the savannah and by gum, I think we did pretty well. We started with the top dishes, the left is Ham Hock & Wildebeest Terrine with Papaya Salsa and the right is Crocodile Cigars. Both were incredibly tasty dishes with an exciting array of flavours. The wildebeest had a lovely meaty flavour which worked well in contrast to the ham hock, and I loved the papaya salsa – it seemed out of place on the menu, but it certainly hit the spot on the plate. The crocodile was interesting, although I wasn’t expecting the spring roll style, I really enjoyed the taste. It has definitely left me wanting to try crocodile again, next time I would like to try the meat without the spring roll style just so I can really get the individual flavour of the meat. Both were great dishes that certainly had our mouths watering for the second course, but we didn’t have long to wait!
The second course was absolutely my favourite because both dishes were just delicious. It makes my mouth water now to remember them. We shared the Zebra Fillet and the Springbok Loin, with sides of Sugar Snaps & Red Onion, Creamy Spinach and Peri-Peri Fries. Wow. What a feast! The first time I had tried any of these meats, but as a big fan of venison and lamb, I was sure to enjoy them. The zebra was lovely, strangely it looked a lot like lamb but with a different flavour that I don’t think I can compare to anything else I have tried. It went really nicely with the spinach and the fries. My favourite was the springbok, which was just so full of flavour and really reminded me of gamier meats like venison. It was gorgeous with the red wine jus and the red onions from the sugar snaps dish. It was the kind of food where you feel like you need a few minutes to recover because each mouthful is so good. The side orders were delicious, the peri-peri fries were flavoured to perfection and the spinach really added to the tastes of the foods.All in all, a pretty darn good birthday meal and I’d like to say a huge thanks to the guys at Shaka Zulu for making it special. I will most definitely be going back again and I seriously recommend that you give it a try too. A perfect restaurant for a special occasion with plenty of entertainment – there was African drummers performing and dancing around us as we ate! If you like experimenting with food and you love a good steak, South African is perfect for you and will introduce you to a host of new flavours and textures – just what all of us food-lovers enjoy! It may be a tad more expensive than you might usually pay for a steak, but for me, quality speaks volumes over quantity and I would always rather a high quality piece of meat.
Have you been to Shaka Zulu – what did you think? Are you a big lover of South African food – what’s your favourite dish?