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THE DISH: Hunt for tasty food in Durban

Tuesday June 18 2019

Frankies curry -- a savoury chicken curry served with rice, a tortilla, a side of sliced bananas, onion and tomato salad, and mango chutney and almond flakes. PHOTO| VALERIE KOGA

Frankies curry -- a savoury chicken curry served with rice, a tortilla, a side of sliced bananas, onion and tomato salad, and mango chutney and almond flakes. PHOTO| VALERIE KOGA 

VALERIE KOGA
By VALERIE KOGA
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Whenever I’m in a new place or city, I like trying out their signature dishes and anything on the menu that I cannot easily get back home, or, at the least, something cooked differently from what I am used to.

I was recently in Durban, South Africa, and of course, food was the first thing I wanted to try out.

I have always been told that if I ever visit Durban, uShaka Marine World should be a must-visit place. So, one afternoon when my colleagues and I decided to visit uShaka.

After running around for one or two hours and being all ‘touristy’ inside the marine park, we decided to satisfy our grumbling stomachs.

My hot chocolate served at Tashas, Gateway Mall, Durban. It warmed my body from the chilly night but it was too sweet for my taste buds. PHOTO| VALERIE KOGA

My hot chocolate served at Tashas, Gateway Mall, Durban. It warmed my body from the chilly night but it was too sweet for my taste buds. PHOTO| VALERIE KOGA

Three of our South African colleagues had secured a table at Moyo Restaurant inside the marine park as the rest of us were touring.

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DELIGHTFUL SCULPTURES

The welcoming wooden and metal sculptures and artwork at the entrance of Moyo were such a delight that I knew this was definitely the right choice.

The African-themed interior was bold and warm.After savouring the interior design, I joined my colleagues at a corner table.

Being a cold and gloomy afternoon, I asked whether they had hot drinks. My companions, who had arrived earlier at the restaurant, informed me that the coffee machine was broken and there were no hot drinks.

I wondered why they couldn’t make tea, hot chocolate or coffee the traditional way—in a pot or sufuria—and one of my companions had already voiced this to the waiter who maintained there would be no hot drinks because the coffee machine was broken.

I wasn’t going to survive the cold weather on cold drinks, so we all decided to leave and eat elsewhere.

Our journey took us to Gateway Mall on the other side of town, convenient for having a hearty meal and shopping.

Since I was hungry, I felt that the drive was too long but in reality, it was just about 10 or 15 minutes.

I was glad when we finally arrived and I knew I would be munching on something very soon.

However, with such a wide range of restaurants to choose from, we were spoiled for choice and we walked around discussing where we would go to eat, flipping through a few of the menus...It took us nearly 20 minutes to finally settle on one.

Most of the restaurants at the mall offered fast foods or foods we have in Kenya – there was Spurs and a few others that had coffee and bitings – and the East Africans in the group wanted a taste of something different.

BEAUTIFUL SITTING AREA

We settled for Tashas, and decided to get a table inside because it was too chilly to sit on the outside. The outside seating area was beautiful and more spacious than the tiny inside.

We were welcomed by a polite hostess who gave us both the signature menu and the everyday one, and told us our waitress would soon be with us.

Our lovely waitress was quite resourceful and polite, and she took her time explaining what the dishes entailed.

It was a busy evening and our dinner took a bit of time; the menu says allow 20 minutes for orders to be ready, but it took longer.

Thankfully, our drinks came shortly after we ordered them and I was able to warm my body with some hot chocolate. Unfortunately, it was too sweet for my taste and I didn’t order another.

One companion ,who also ordered hot chocolate, asked that they add a bit of water to dilute the sweetness. One person had a delightful lemon water with honey, one had plain water and the others had sodas.

I had come to Tashas with the hope of eating chicken, but when I saw a table being served some really appetising prawns I changed my mind and in the Kenyan style, I gestured towards that table and told our waitress: “I’d like what they are having.”

The prawns dish. PHOTO| VALERIE KOGA

The prawns dish. PHOTO| VALERIE KOGA

My prawns with a lemon, butter and coriander sauce, came with a herb and fennel salad, and a side of fries. I didn’t enjoy my prawns.

I could taste the lemon, which was nice, but there was something about its chewy nature that I didn’t like, and an aftertaste that wouldn’t go away.

The salmon trout fish cakes. PHOTO| VALERIE KOGA

The salmon trout fish cakes. PHOTO| VALERIE KOGA

I regretted changing my order...But one companion was wolfing down her plate of prawns and commenting on how good they were.

In the end, one person offered to switch their dish with mine, and I gladly took her panko hake (crumbed hake) and she ate my prawns.

The panko hake with tartar sauce and some peas. PHOTO| VALERIE KOGA

The panko hake with tartar sauce and some peas. PHOTO| VALERIE KOGA

I did enjoy my herb and fennel salad, and, of course, the panko hake which came with fries, lemon and parsley and a salad.

One other person had panko hake served with tartar sauce, fries and peas, and you could see the delight in her face as she enjoyed it.

One person had the salmon trout fish cakes and potatoes that looked great though I didn’t taste it. She said they were quite nice.

But the person who had the best food, according to my taste buds, was the only gentleman at the table. He went with Frankies curry – a savoury chicken curry – which was served with rice, a side of banana slices, tortilla, onion and tomato salad, mango chutney and almond flakes.

The moment he offered to share his chicken curry, I regretted my order and helped him devour his. It was a huge serving anyway, and the peppery flavours blended well with the sweet chutney, banana, and kachumbari.

It was the best dish of the night.

LANGUAGE BARRIER

Of course, when we ordered more tortilla, which at first we thought was chapati, a different waitress misinterpreted our pronunciation for some other food and she ended up bringing some toasted bread that had a name that rhymed with chapati.

But they were happy to get us our correct order, all of us laughing at the language barrier and communication breakdown.

Dinner at Tashas was great and perhaps next time I’ll try out their other signature dishes...but really, I’m just salivating for their Frankies curry.

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Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in and around Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.

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