Welcome to Week 35 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Winnie’s Tuckshop, a kota restaurant in Tembisa.

A few weeks ago, my friends Nells and Tebogo posted pictures of the kotas they ate at Winnie’s Tuckshop in Tembisa, a large township northeast of Joburg. The moment I laid eyes on the first picture, I was making my own plan to go.

Nell's kota from Winnie's TuckshopI don’t think I need to say much more than Nells said above. By the way, Nells and the gang at Ofentse Mwase Films make hilarious short films about life in South Africa. Check them out here.

A kota is one of those uniquely South African meals that involves bread stuffed with tons of cheap, messy, fattening food that you eat with your hands. It’s similar to a bunny chow or a Gatsby or an AK-47 or a sly wat-wat. A kota, slang for “quarter”, is made from a hollowed-out quarter-loaf of bread and filled with a variety of things.

The kotas I’ve had in the past are basic, filled with chips (fries), cheese, and maybe a piece of meat and some sauce. But Winnie’s masterpieces are, as Nells describes, the Harvard University of kotas.

Winnie's TuckshopOutside Winnie’s Tuckshop.

Kota menu at Winnie's TuckshopThe menu at Winnie’s. It took me a minute to figure out that “lattice” is lettuce.

Lunch at Winnie’s Tuckshop

I had an amazing afternoon in Tembisa with Marie-Lais and our guides, Walter and Vican. I’ll write another post later about the entire visit. But for now I need to talk about these kotas.

The ordering process is an experience in itself. We squeezed into this tiny little prison cell of a shop and called our orders to the two ladies behind bars. There were lots of cars parked outside waiting for kotas. One guy in line had seen Winnie’s kotas on social media, as I had, and came all the way from Sandton to order one.

We waited impatiently (Winnie’s kotas can’t be rushed), watching as the ladies assembled a whole line of kotas at once.

Lady making kotasMaking kotas. The key is that big toaster at the back. See how the bread is toasted all over? This makes the kotas taste 10 times better than average. (FYI, this lady isn’t Winnie.)

Making kotas closeupCross section.

Guys with kotasThese guys got their kotas before me and I was super jealous.

The biggest Winnie’s kota is “the Noxious”, reportedly named for a deejay named Nox, which contains a double burger, rib patty, double cheese, egg, ham, and lettuce topped with secret sauce. That sounded a bit much so I went with the more conservative beef patty kota, with a beef patty, cheese, chips, ham, egg, lettuce, and sauce. My kota cost R48 ($3.70).

Serving up our kotasServing up our kotas.

Kota from Winnie's TuckshopReady to eat.

The hardest part was figuring out how to eat it. There are no knives or forks, not that utensils would really help.

Heather and kota
My kota and me. (Photo: Marie-Lais Emond)

I decided to eat mine layer by layer — the toasted bread top, then the ham/cheese/egg, then the patty, and then the chips and lettuce and bread base. It all tasted delicious but I didn’t feel like I was doing it right.

Vican, on the other hand, managed to make it all work at once.

Vican eating kota at Winnie's TuckshopI think he’s done this before.

Winnie’s Tuckshop is 45 minutes away from downtown Joburg. But if you’re looking for an authentic South African lunch, it’s worth the trip.

Winnie’s Tuckshop is at 196 Libya St, Isivana, Tembisa. Call +27-72-534-3443.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

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