Sunday, December 25, 2011

Moyo (Johannesburg) 12/2011

On our first day in Africa how could we resist the opportunity for a sophisticated eating experience inspired by ancestral and traditional values, warm hospitality and modern African ambiance? No way so we found ourselves at Moyo, one of six restaurants in this chain spread around the country. Zulu Boy, the given name of the gentleman who seemed to be in charge here, was extremely helpful explaining the nature of the dishes. In appearance they were similar to many other restaurants, what distinguished them were their flavours. The thin bread was covered with a light scatter of dukka, sesame seeds and turmeric. A small dish of earthy olive oil completed this appealing offering. I had an appetizer of chicken wings stuffed with prawns and mushrooms. The chicken had a marinade making it exceptionally tasty and the stuffing was great. We'll do this at home some time. The place is deceptively big. Apart from a large number of tables in a covered area facing the square there are tables inside, on the first floor, the ground floor and several more floors beneath that cut out of the rock. The rooms are decorated with carvings and masks and mosaic floors and can seat almost 500 people in a very intimate and romantic atmosphere. Wait staff were a happy lot with a variety of decoration painted on their face, they occasionally offer to paint the faces of patrons too!

Sandra’s thick, African style, carrot soup was spiced with cumin and cardamom with a sweetish taste created by the carrot and possibly some sweet potato. It felt nourishing and the spices blended together well.

For her main course she had a superb beef dish. The meat was served on top of bones full of succulent marrow and had a mushroom on top making the dish look like a plate with two large mushrooms on it. To our great surprise, and pleasure they actually cooked it, as requested, warm blue that is with the outside of it cooked and the centre of the steak just warm. It was tender too. The accompanied potato chips were quite limp. It seems they do not want to be identified with the fast food outlets that serve crisp chips so, if that’s how you want them, you have to ask specifically. The also made a fairly acidic Béarnaise sauce. I had a Moroccan style spiced lamb dish with a thick gravy and lightly cooked seasonal vegetables and a nice pilau rice. The main flavours were mostly contributed to by cardamom, cumin and coriander but the art is in the balance.How can we score this? We thoroughly enjoyed it all. Lets say 14/20

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