Lifestyle Food And Drink

Michelle Loewenstein
1 minute read
2 Dec 2013
6:00 am

When in Soweto…

Michelle Loewenstein

Vilakazi Street has become the tourist pulse point of Soweto, with Mandela House being the main attraction. Restaurants and bars surround the museum and are frequented by curious visitors as well as

MELT IN THE MOUTH. The delicious lamb shank.

Johannesburg hipsters trying to prove just how “alternative” their social lives are.

Restaurant Vilakazi is a few metres away from the tourist bustle, and gives off a relaxed and sophisticated vibe, with patrons sipping on vino while tucking into traditional fare served in a novice-friendly fashion. As a relative newcomer, I was quite intimidated by the promise of tripe when I arrived at a Moët & Chandon Nectar champagne pairing event at the popular spot. But the most challenging thing about the menu was the sheer size of the dishes. Be warned – salad-pickers and weight-watchers should stay at home. The generous portions left little space for dessert, although everyone seemed to forget this fact when a delicious red-velvet cupcake smothered in cream was placed in front of them.

For starters there was a selection of dishes: isibindi (ox liver), unleqwa (chicken), mogodu (lamb tripe) and boerewors, all cooked the old-fashioned way. A Greek salad softened the protein blow. The boerie was delicious, and put any store-bought braai meat to shame. The rest pleased the more adventurous diners, but my newbie palate was a bit overwhelmed. The good news for nerdy eaters like me is that there are more mainstream options like rump, kingklip and ribs.

The main course was a large lamb shank with rice, pumpkin and spinach. The lamb was cooked to perfection, and practically dropped off the bone. Some dishes were served with a different starch option. The general consensus was that the mash was the clear winner.

The staff were friendly and helpful and managed to stifle their laughter at silly questions and patrons who didn’t even come close to finishing their meals.

Owner Sipho Tshabalala oozes warmth and charm and was

always on-hand to ensure everything ran smoothly.