Monday 3 March 2014

Trying South African cuisine at Shaka Zulu

Shaka Zulu is a South African themed restaurant / bar / club / extraordinaire based in Camden, London. Notably somewhere I have wanted to go for the longest time and last Friday my wish came true. After a very stressful busy week at work, Nafisah, Martin, Arash and I decided to give it a try and it couldn't have come at a better time. The USP of Shaka Zulu is its choice of alternative meats - zebra anyone? - extensive and unique range of cocktails, and stunning decor.


To start we braved crocodile cigars:

Very tasty but to be honest, I would have thought I was eating chicken if I didn't know any better. It was well worth a try and at least now I can add crocodile to the list of unusual things I've eaten! To give you a perspective of price, it cost £14 for x2 "cigars". I would advise you purchase these just for yourself or for two of you absolute maximum as there isn't a lot on the plate.

For our main course, our table ordered a mixture of zebra, springbok, buffalo and boerewors (sausage containing beef and lamb):

I tried everything apart from the sausage (I can't eat lamb) and it was all very tasty. Buffalo, as you can imagine, was very close to eating beef. Out of all our meats, this was the fattiest - so if you usually go for a healthier option, then this probably wouldn't be for you. I went all out and ordered the zebra. Again, very close to beef, but this time you could tell there was a slight difference between this and a standard steak. I ordered mine medium hoping it would be pink in the middle, but it was cooked through which was a shame. The springbok was the tastiest - and leanest - meat on our table. Cooked medium rare, it had the perfect amount of pink in the middle, which I'll bear in mind for my next visit. All of these came with red wine jus, straw potatoes and confit cherry cherry tomatoes. As a word of advice, do order extra sides. We had about two cherry tomatoes each and the straw potatoes were more like a sprinkling of small croutons rather than actual chips. We ordered the fat chips as an extra, and even though you don't get many in a bowl - we counted seven! - these were seasoned to perfection.

For dessert, we had the selection of mini ice cream cones and the passion fruit crème brulee which came with mini lemon and honey madeleines:

The passion fruit crème brulee was absolutely beautiful and the madeleines were ideal for dipping into the custard. It was a lovely, light dessert which left me feeling comfortable and satisfied, rather than overly full! I didn't try any of the ice cream cones, but they came in some fascinating flavours. Chocolate and chilli, honeycomb, banana, cardamom....


To drink, we had a mixture of wine, beer and cocktails. I'm not a beer drinker, but everyone else seemed to love the beer. Their red wine "Fortress Hill Pinotage" was rich, warming, and had a subtle spice which married well with grilled meat. I also tried their "Apple Crumble" cocktail which contained vodka, apple purée, cinnamon, apple juice and lemon juice. I wasn't initially a fan as the purée on top reminded me of baby food - plus the cinnamon packed a punch. But once this mixed in a little, it was very nice - very fresh and light.


The interior is nothing short of magnificent. Wooden carvings in the walls, warrior statues and tribal prints. You have to see it to believe it. Quite dim lighting so a lot of my photos didn't come out very well... You have to take two escalators down to the restaurant and there is zero phone reception so if you're meeting people and need to contact them, probably best to meet them outside!


Right from the start, everyone we had was very friendly and welcoming. We did however feel like we were on a bit of a time limit and felt like we were being thrown out as soon as we put our dessert spoons down!


I cannot stress this enough: this is not somewhere you go every day. I classify this as the sort of place you go for a special occasion. Our meal came to hundreds of pounds with a large service change added onto our bill on top of this. To give you a perspective of price, cocktails were about £11-13 each. Sharing cocktails were a lot more expensive and could cost anywhere up to £150... I already touched upon how much our starter cost. Starters were in the range of £10-20 whereas main courses were more like £20-30 each. Unless you ordered the Game Board - a meat feast coming in at a whopping £85. Yikes.


I loved my first visit and definitely will be returning in the future - although price wise, this means it will probably have to be a special occasion! For a lot of the menu, you are paying for the novelty factor - crocodile and zebra anyone? - but you won't be disappointed on taste. Portion sizes are generally quite small so if you like your food and lots of it, this probably isn't the place for you. If you like your meat cooked well done, then this also probably isn't the place for you. They do give you the choice of how you'd like it cooked, but generally only cook their meat medium or rare and frown upon anything else This wasn't a problem for me, but it's worth bearing in mind if you don't like blood on your plate. My recommended dish? The springbok served medium rare. Still very gutted I didn't order this myself... but hey, there's always next time! ;)

Stables Market
Chalk Farm Rd

Nearest station: Camden (Northern Line)


  1. love!!!!!



  2. ohh this meal looks absolutely delicious!! i love love trying exotic and unusual meats!! and i agree a lot of things taste like chicken haha!!

    that passionfruit creme bruelee sounds divine!!


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