UPDATE (February 2018): Mamasan has closed and I’m sad.

Last week I had lunch at Mamasan, a brand-new restaurant on 7th Street in Melville. (Mamasan is so brand-new that it doesn’t have a website or even a review on Zomato yet. But here is its Zomato page as a placeholder.) It was delicious and I have very high hopes for this joint.

Hake lunch at MamasanMy lunch at Mamasan: pan-fried masala hake with cos lettuce, grape, cucumber, gherkin, green bean, apple, cashew nut salsa, and dhania vinaigrette. Such a delightful combination of flavors, all for R90 ($6.39).

Mamasan is at the top of 7th Street, near the intersection of 1st Avenue, next to the ancient Golf Tea Room convenience store. Here are the reasons I’m excited about Mamasan:

 1) Mamasan serves Cape-Malay-inspired cuisine. (You can read more about Cape Malay cuisine in this post.) I love Cape Malay food and there is very little of it to be found in Joburg. Mamasan’s meat is free-range and the menu is pork-free, for the kosher and halaal diners among you.

Chicken wings starter from MamasanMy friend Sandy ordered the “sticky suur vy chicken wings” appetizer, which she really enjoyed.

2) Mamasan has beautiful, well executed decor and a professional, thoughtful menu. This is not one of those fly-by-night Melville dives that gets slapped up in 48 hours, only to disappear 48 days later. The restaurant is cheerful and inviting, creative yet simple. The moment it opened a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to stop in.

Sawed Petersen, owner of MamasanDawood Petersen, charming owner of Mamasan, reluctantly posing for a photo in the middle of the restaurant. He’s originally from Cape Town but has lived in Joburg for several years. In addition to his role as restauranteur, Dawood has a day job as an attorney. 

plant in MamasanAttention to detail.

3) Mamasan is unique. Don’t get me wrong…I love Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar and Hell’s Kitchen, the two trendy restaurants across the street. But Mamasan has a more homey, less hipstery vibe than those places. There’s nothing else like it in Melville and probably nothing else like it in Joburg.

Mamasan (Shop 2 7th St., near the corner of 1st Ave.) is open Tuesday through Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. I don’t think they have a liquor license yet but there is a liquor store right next door. There’s a beautiful back room behind the dining room that I think will eventually become a bar. Check it out if you’re in Joburg for the holidays. In fact, go tomorrow for Sunday lunch.

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