When you're getting paid to eat out, and deadlines loom, the danger is that sometimes the pleasure of a restaurant experience is lost. It can become a job rather than a passion, as dishes and flavours blur into plates of "sameness". Having said all that, what it does mean is that when a restaurant or meal stands out from the masses it does so because it deserves to. It stands out because it is memorable and special. It is a defining food moment. One of these moments presented itself to me on Saturday. In the middle of a township.
AmaZink Eatery is the brainchild of Bertus Basson, the man behind the fine-dining establishment, Overture. His new venture is poles apart and is a no-nonsense, no frills restaurant in Khayamandi. The decor is a collection of lively coloured wooden chairs and gorgeous painted tables. There is an amphitheater set up with a big screen for watching sport and an outside section where you can watch the goings on of a bustling township. The menu is scribbled on chalkboards in funky fonts and the meat you're about to eat displayed behind glass. Loyiso is the man in charge of a friendly, vibrant staff and he runs the show brilliantly.
I sat down and skeptically ordered a glass of their house white. A pleasant surprise arrived in the form of a cold glass of Chenin Blanc from Ernst Gouws & Co. I asked our waitress about it and it turns out it has been created especially for AmaZink. Nice. To eat, I ordered a vegetable soup to start. It arrived with light, steaming-fresh vetkoek and was an enormous portion. The soup itself tasted like vegetables which already was a lot better than vegetable soups I have had in more expensive settings. With none of the meat being free-range, I asked Loyiso if I could taste some of his pap. What arrived was the biggest plate of food I have seen. Ever. Pumpkin fritters, potato wedges, chakka lakka, spinach, pap, sauce. Alright then. I ate until I couldn't actually face another bite, savouring every bit of food. This was proper food, cooked simply and with a distinct sweetness to the vegetables that is characteristic to the culture. The Queen had a perfectly cooked half Peri-Peri chicken, blackened by an open flame. The same vegetables were offered, this time with a generous combination of samp and beans. Again, brilliantly cooked.
Other options for mains were pork, lamb, chicken, wors and even a platter for two combining everything! We couldn't face desserts but next time I reckon I'll just start with one of them. I already know the malva pudding will be the real deal.
Next time you feel like doing something different, this place is worth a trip. Unfortunately I was driving, but the best way to enjoy this place would be to hire a shuttle, get 10 mates, do a bit of wine-touring and end here for lunch. That - my friends - would be the ultimate day. Who's keen?
P.S. Check out their website on http://www.amazink.co.za
When last did you visit a restaurant, in a township, owned by someone from that area or go to the township for any other reason? Or do you only go to places / events that are run /organised by outsiders, which are sold as a day of fun in the township? Just like the super 14 final, it is incredibly disappointing to see white South Africans only going to the townships for rugby or tourist like events.
I am not saying I am against these concepts, which boost tourism and jobs in the townships. This is aimed at those who only visit these areas for events like this. And then spend the next month dining out on their stories of being so ‘liberal’ and supportive. Oh my, I can see it now….’is it not dangerous there’, she shrieks?
Prego is keen! Lets do it!
Anon, I'll tell you what's disappointing. Reading comments like yours. If you had gone onto the website and read about Roots you would have discovered he is a local hero within the community. He is the backbone of the restaurant - as I mentioned. I'm not pretending to be some liberal crusader. All I'm saying is how fantastic it is to have your eyes opened to how cool the vibe is in a township. If a restaurant has the power to do this then that's great. And yes, tourists will go there. They will go there, have a great time and tell their friends back home. With all the false negative reporting that has been broadcast on channels like Sky News I fail to see how showing a tourist a good time can be a bad thing.
You seem to grasp and then unfortunately miss my point. To clarify, I am not saying these concepts are bad. I think they are important for the reasons I pointed out- tourism and job creation. I just do not enjoy the fact that this is the reason people make their first or only trips to these areas. That was my point. I asked you a question. You did not answer it.
With regards to sky why are you offended by their reporting? I have seen most of it and it seems to be a fair account of South African poverty etc. It might be sensationalist and off the topic, but that is sky. Have you seen their reporting of their budget, election and football team? Would you rather they did not show the plight of our poor? Are you embarrassed by it? Are you one of those who think they should only show the beautiful parts of the city; the part 90 percent of your life is presumably made up of?
It seems hypercritical, given the purpose of your blog, that you seem upset with Sky enforcing their right of freedom of press and their right to criticise and report what they see fit to.
Oooh boy. Anon, Anon, Anon. This is the problem with a comments section of a blog. People get distracted and off the point. Let's not use a food blog to argue about Sky reporting. I know I mentioned it - maybe I shouldn't have. Apologies.
I think I do understand your point. Mine is that a restaurant was the reason I visited a township. I can categorically say I will be back. Often. So it's not just a "once-off". I think this is important. Who cares WHY we make our first visit. As long as we come back. And with regards to the question you asked me which you seem to think I did not answer...well...I did. You asked if I'm the type who "only goes to things organised by outsiders. Sold as a day of fun." Well, as I pointed out Roots is not an outsider. And as for going to things sold as a day of fun...umm...yes, I do go to such things. I quite like fun days.
Prego is still keen!!!!
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