Cape Town’s Long Street is renowned internationally for its pubs and nightlife. But what is not so well-known is that the four kilometre stretch takes you on a culinary journey around the world.
An incredible range of cuisine is available – from the Middle East to the Far East, North Africa and South America; an array of tastes that’s unlikely to be found on one street anywhere else in the world.
A Long Street regular is Avukile Mabombo. He’s the Group Marketing Manager for Protea Hotels by Marriott®, and a connoisseur of foods from different countries.
“Not everyone realises the added feature of this iconic Cape Town street,” says Mabombo. “I love the range of international cuisine available – and I’m not talking just about the typical things like Italian pizza and American burgers.”
A walk from the Foreshore to the top near the African Pride 15 on Orange Hotel highlights some of Mabombo’s favourites.
“For great Japanese Shoyu Ramen and other side and starter dishes, I head out to Obi Japanese Restaurant,” says Mabombo.
“Phad Thai Restaurant offers a great Thai chicken dish, Chicken Phad Thai. It’s a tasty combination of sweet and salty flavours. The portions are really substantial, too. And then for dim sum – filled buns and dumplings, traditional in Cantonese cooking – I stop off at the South China Dim Sum Bar at the top end of Long Street.”
Night owls and those in a hurry can head for various buffet-style restaurants that offer typical Chinese fast food. You can get large portions for very reasonable prices at places like Food Inn, where a tasty portion of sweet & sour beef or chicken fried rice costs less than R60.
Middle Eastern food is not limited to schwarma and pita bread. There are way more delectable flavours to be found, and Kurdish cuisine is well worth a try. Highly recommended are the spicy lamb dishes cooked on a traditional tandoori wood fire, with the intense flavours of aubergines, at Mesopotamia Restaurant. The combination of tastes is often brought out by the yoghurt and mint that accompanies many of the dishes. The Halaal-friendly meals come with traditional belly dancing, so make a night of it!
There’s the opportunity to sample traditional African food from around the continent. Mama Africa Restaurant & Bar, which is popular with tourists, also offers more exotic game dishes, including ostrich, crocodile, springbok and kudu. The diversity of African cuisine is reflected in various curries, Zimbabwean Dovi (a stew made with chicken and flavoured with peanut butter), Moroccan Prawns and Malagasy Fish.
At Addis in Cape, the cuisine is Ethiopian, and Mabombo often enjoys a meal there with friends. “We share the platters of rich and spicy stews. The tradition is to eat with your hands, scooping up the stew with pieces of the sourdough bread. We also enjoy the coffee ceremony – a highlight at the restaurant. The Ethiopian coffee has a richness of taste that is really special.”
Heading to the top end of Long Street, you can savour the strong flavours of Cuban food at the Buena Vista Social Café or try a different take on Indian food at Masala Dosa. You’ll find modern Indian dishes there that veer away from the typical Indian menu of curries and breyanis. The name of the restaurant is taken from a popular South Indian breakfast dish, a crispy rice and lentil pancake that is served with a potato curry, coconut chutney and a spicy vegetable and lentil broth.
By taking Mabombo’s advice for a walk up Long Street, you’ll end with the pleasure of having travelled the world on a full stomach!