Shaka Zulu opened its doors in 2010, with a special blessing and royal seal of approval from the Zulu King, HRH Goodwill Zwelithini. Set over a ground-breaking 27,000 sq ft, it’s London’s largest South African bar, restaurant and club, with a mezzanine champagne and cocktail bar overlooking the fabulously majestic braai restaurant. Expect to walk in and be wowed – Shaka Zulu is nothing if not memorable.
It’s worth going to Shaka Zulu purely for the décor, which unsurprisingly has won the restaurant a host of prestigious awards. 20ft statues tower over the African print tables, wooden carvings cover the walls, the toilets have been zebrafied and you’ll spot murals, water features and vibrant flashes of animal print at every new glance. You even have to pass a gigantic warrior king statue to enter the restaurant, before hopping on an enormous escalator that takes you down to the African kingdom.
We went in a big group so the big round tables in the braai restaurant were perfect. The word braai is Afrikaans for "barbecue" or "grill" and you can watch their chefs stoke the fires and prepare the dishes from the open plan kitchen. The seating makes sharing easy and we nibbled on biltong, masala seared tuna loin, snoek pate and crocodile cigars while we mulled over the mains. The crocodile cigars looked like little spring roll pastry cigars, filled with a light and tasty fillet of crocodile and served with a delicious harissa mayonnaise and the pate tasted beautifully fresh and creamy and was served with wafer thin ciabatta slices. Our favourite though was the tuna loin, which came with a fiery mango preserve and baby pea shoots.
Once you’ve had a taste for the exotic you want to try it all and there’s a range of mouth-watering meats on offer including zebra, ostrich, wild boar, crocodile steak and springbok loin, as well as more traditional fish and meaty mains. I opted for the ostrich fillet which was succulent and light, accompanied by red wine jus and straw potatoes, which were like extremely thin, crispy, salty fries - yum. Our waiter kindly let me know that it’s also extremely low in fat compared to steak. My dinner neighbour went for boerewors, a South African sausage coil which was looked very impressive. The sausage was spicy and plump and the sauce was like a beautifully rich and thick gravy. He added sweet potato mash as a side and it looked like a very scrumptious bangers ‘n’ mash.
Many visit Shaka just for drinks and a dance and post-dinner the place turns into quite a party, with DJs playing the best of house, funky house, commercial rnb and club classics. We skipped desserts for more cocktails and a boogie; I recommend the Pappayedura: a fresh, light and refreshing blend of Patron tequila, fresh papaya and thyme finished with fresh lime and agave - exactly what you need after a lot of meat!
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