London has a rich variety - in fact, though we may not lead the World in Michelin Stars, the variety is up there with the best. The Capital currently boasts British, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian, French, Peruvian and Spanish restaurants that have been awarded dining's highest honour. You can walk down a single road and enjoy a wide range of culinary experiences. A great example of this is the behemoth A10. This monster road begins life in The City as Bishopsgate (Sushisamba & Duck & Waffle); skips passed Spitalfields (Wright Brothers & Hawksmoor); transforms into Shoreditch High Street (Dishoom & Hoi Polloi); has a long innings as Kingsland Road - which is the Capital of Vietnamese dining, houses Hoxton (MeatMission & Red Dog Saloon), dabbles with Dalston (White Rabbit & Jones and Sons) and settles as Stoke Newington (Foxlow & Stokey Bears). Though many cuisines are represented in on the A10, and in indeed London, African cuisine (witht the exception of Morrocco) falls short. Camden's Shaka Zulu aims to buck this trend with this multi-faceted South African Brai restaurant, cocktail bar and club.
Shaka Zulu is a gargantuan South African Braai restaurant, bar and club. For those who aren't full food-nerds, Braai is South Africa's answer to what you may know as a barbecue - It's essentially fire cooked, meaty-eats. Though barbecue style cuisine is far from being a new concept on these shores, it's what's on the menu at Shaka Zulu that makes them stand out. The menu contains (VEGETARIANS, DUCK FOR COVER), Springbok, Steak, Ostrich, Crocodile, Lobster, Chicken, Zebra, Duck, Salmon and Wild Boar... virtually all the 'things'. A meat lover's wildest dream. On top of this, there are a number of destination bars and the venue evolves into a nightclub in the evening.
FOOD AND DRINK
Devotees and ex-dinner-accomplaces will attest to my indecision, so having staved off the waiter's three attempts (and ejoying two Old Fashioneds in the meantime) to get my order, I opted for the KING SHAKA GAME BOARD (£85 to share). This hurricane of game meat consists of Springbok, Chilli, Boerewers, Ostrich & Zebra with straw potatoes, confit tomato & red wine jus. Each dish presents a different texture, flavour and share one similarity - it's all delicious. A fun (well... fun if you're a food nerd) thing to do is play 'guess the meat' and see if you can tell the difference between the various animals. I attempted this with my accomplice and fellow meat-lover, Edd, but we cleaned our plates way before we had a chance to establish any semblance of rules. For those who aren't attracted to the game, there is a kids', vegan, vegetarian, halal and gluten free menus. Cocktails were spot on - there's a massive collection of premium and regulation spirits, South African wines and all the classics.
ATMOSPHERE & DECOR
Shaka Zulu is a beast - easily the largest restaurant I've been to. There are two large floors, separated by an escalator, with dining spots and bars throughout. There decor is entirely based on a tribal African theme, with hieroglyphic-style carved wood panelling throughout alongside huge Zulu Warrior Statues. Entertainment is in the form of dancing Zulu Warriors, Game Animals and Dancers - think Lion King at The Lyceum but with a meaty aroma in the air; as well as live music shows. Given the sheer size, early weekday nights may not carry much of an atmosphere - this isn't an alien concept but is exacerbated at Shaka Zulu. The weekends are a different animal all together with post-work drinkers, birthday party groups, destination drinkers and dates. In fact, with an early start and late finish, you're likely to see an impressive number varying occasions - owed in no small part to the depth of the menus.
For me, Shaka Zulu is a definite bucket-list restaurant for the adventerous eater. If you love trying new things, and fancy something a little different for your meal - this is the place for you. If you're curious as to how Braai is done, give it a go. The service can't be faulted, the cocktails are great and it's always nice to have an interesting answer to "What's the most unusual thing you've eaten?" I mean Crocodile Fries isn't exactly a standard menu option.
P.S... Don't be put off by the rating on Google - it really doesn't do the restaurant any justice!!
MORE ON SHAKA ZULU
Venue page and more details here...