Shaka Zulu, Camden

  • DATE #133
  • Written by Toby Macmlachlan (Guest Author)
  • 6 years ago
South African meat feast

The Vibe

Shaka Zulu is pretty cool.  That’s mostly down to the décor – I don’t remember much else.  I never saw ‘Cats – the Musical’ but I’m guessing I don’t need to now.  Every last inch of the vast Shaka Zulu restaurant is Southern African ethnic bling: like Mahiki on acid, if you’ve ever done that.  There isn’t a nook or cranny that doesn’t have a curious little wooden monster or a mind-bending tile formation in it.  Often both.  Titanic walls are alive with jungle wildlife and fauna in carven relief.  Sure, it’s overwhelming to start with and you feel like a gap year kid has decorated your nightmare, but then slowly you realise: it’s pretty cool.

The Order

If you stick your neck out, so to speak, and order a Crocodile Cigar, you should realise that anything might turn up.  At Shaka Zulu: a ten-inch spring roll stuffed with spiced crocodile.  The menu is a world of discovery.  If you’re a plucky soul the wildebeest pate is a must have. In fact, all the food – mostly assorted South African game – is excellent: unsurprisingly generous portions and considered presentation.  The wine list is extensive and a good glass complements the entertainingly dirty-mouthed head chef who passes food for service from the open-fronted kitchen.

The Game

Shaka Zulu is good dating territory.  The visual supernova interior takes the pressure off the date straight away – instant talking point and you definitely look better than your inlaid table. Like being at a fancy dress party (if you like that sort of thing) inhibitions seem to soften.  There is a snazzy cocktail bar to retire to if things go well, and a desperately awkward elevator back to ground level if not.  The menu doesn’t cater much for sharing but improvisation is definitely possible (she tucked into my plate with a fork and wanton disregard for good etiquette).

The Faults

If you didn’t like the Lion King you might not like Shaka Zulu.  But then, who didn’t like the Lion King?

Sex Factor

Following on from Shaka Zulu would be difficult.  Anywhere else will seem bland after the sensual assault of dinner.  Your best bet is to head for the bamboo bar and, being careful to blame the wild walls for the reckless lunge you are about to make, go for a kiss in one of the low-lit animalistic corners.  I spied a couple doing just that as I left with my lady and they seemed to be enjoying it.

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