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food

Hashi sushi ball

A Good Sushi Restaurant in Joburg

This is a quick post to inform you of a good sushi restaurant in Johannesburg. Having spent most of my life on the American east coast, where great sushi restaurants abound, I struggle to find decent sushi in Joburg. The fish is often bland and lacking in variety, there is too much mayonnaise, and the sushi rolls are uncreative. I suppose this should come as no surprise; Joburg is a land-locked city and there aren’t many Japanese people around. But similar to my quest for good Jozi Mexican food, my quest for good Jozi sushi is ongoing. I have discovered a few exceptions to the bland Joburg sushi rule, and Hashi is one of them. A Hashi sushi roll. Hashi Fusion Japanese Cuisine, on 7th Street in Linden, is an actual Japanese restaurant, rather than an Asian restaurant that threw some sushi on the menu as an afterthought. They have all kinds of crazy sushi roll combinations that I haven’t seen anywhere else before, which is a sign of a good sushi restaurant in my opinion. The fish is fresh and the sushi is well crafted. Hashi also serves sushi pizza. Sushi pizza! I wish I could remember what this dish — a […]

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Cosmopolitan outside in 2014

Joburg’s Cosmopolitan Hotel: Then and Now

The Cosmopolitan Hotel, at the corner of Commissioner and Albrecht Streets, is one of Joburg’s most legendary buildings. Built at the turn of the 20th century, the Cosmopolitan is big and Victorian, its columned, curly-cued cupola looming high above the street. The crumbling facade is strangely magical, like something from a Tim Burton film. The Cosmopolitan, once a prominent gentleman’s club, was in a state of disrepair for decades, its lower-level windows bricked up to prevent trespassing. (Read more about the Cosmopolitan’s history here.) But there have been rumblings of change for a few years, especially since the Maboneng Precinct started sprouting up around the Cosmopolitan. Now, the wait is over. The Cosmopolitan has been made over into a restaurant/retail/gallery space, and it’s officially open for business. I was lucky enough to take some photos inside the Cosmopolitan in May 2014, when a soon-to-be-stalled renovation had just begun and the place was a complete mess. I’ve been sitting on these photos for two years, waiting for the renovations to finish so I can show the before-and-after. While the renovations aren’t 100% finished yet, I can’t wait any longer. Outside the Cosmopolitan Hotel: 2014 and 2016 The front of the building looks more or less […]

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Victorian wedding dress at Lindfield House

Return to Lindfield, Joburg’s Quirkiest Historic House

I first visited Lindfield House in early 2011, a few months after I moved to Joburg. I blogged about it then, but after visiting for a second time two weeks ago I now realize that my original post was inadequate. I can’t say enough about how amazing this place is, and the Jozi blogosphere needs a reminder. Lindfield House, at 72 Richmond Avenue in Auckland Park. The house was built around 1910, when Auckland Park was still a distant suburb of Johannesburg. Lindfield House is part museum, part tea room, part events venue, part educational facility. It’s also a private home where a modern-day Victorian lady lives. Katharine Love — the sole owner, operator, curator, chef, housekeeper, and resident of Lindfield House. She conducts all of her tours in a Victorian housekeeper’s uniform.  A Tour of Lindfield House Every inch of every room in Lindfield House, from the drawing room to the kitchen to the bathroom to the pantry, is decorated to look like a late-19th-century/early-20th-century home in an English colony. The house is filled with thousands of antiques, collected over a lifetime. Katharine and her parents moved here when Katharine was a young girl, and she and her late mother have been collecting Victorian antiques […]

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Fair lawns high tea plate

Quirky High Tea at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel

It is a well known fact that I love high tea, as does the rest of Joburg. I’ve written about it a couple of times before (see here and here), and perhaps it will soon be time for a “Top Five High Teas in Joburg” post. But for now I just want to provide a quick update about an excellent high tea that I enjoyed this week at the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa. My Fairlawns high tea plate, ready to be devoured. (There were several more plates to follow.) Traditional High Tea at Fairlawns As I’ve said before, I love traditional high teas. While I won’t say no to spinach mousse cups or expensive sushi on my tea table, all I really want are those cute little cucumber sandwiches, moist scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, tasty mini desserts, and of course, good tea. You would be surprised at how many upscale high tea venues in Joburg don’t prioritize these most basic requirements. I attended a very expensive high tea in which the waiter didn’t seem to know what clotted cream is, and another in which there weren’t enough scones to go around and the waitress acted surprised when […]

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Quickie Restaurant Reviews: Hell’s Kitchen and Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar

Up until 18 months ago, the east side of the southernmost block on Melville’s 7th Street (between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue) was a merry-go-round of opening and closing restaurants and shops. During the six years that I’ve lived in Melville I remember (just off the top of my head) a combination-cupcake-flower shop, a Scottish kilt shop, a bead shop (which moved around the corner), a pizza place, a bland café, an antique shop, a print supply shop, and a bridal shop (where I never spotted a single bride, or even a customer, in the two-plus years it was there), all open and close on that small stretch of street. This is generally the way things roll in Melville. But that half a block has recently become a hotbed of culinary, rock-and-roll trendiness and I have high hopes that the shops and restaurants there now will hang around for a while. I happened to eat at two of the restaurants on that block this week, and thought I’d do quickie reviews of them both. Hell’s Kitchen Hell’s Kitchen was the first new place to move into the merry-go-round block in late 2014, along with Freedom Hair, which I’ve reviewed before. Hell’s Kitchen […]

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Frappacino from Starbucks

Why I Waited in Line for Two Hours At Starbucks and Krispy Kreme

Yesterday I went to Rosebank for coffee and donuts. I waited 40 minutes for two Krispy Kreme donuts and 90 minutes for a Starbucks frappucino. At Starbucks with my donut and frappe. (Photo by Wimpie, one of the friends I made while waiting in line outside Starbucks.) It was worth the wait. Not because I’ve never had a Krispy Kreme or a Starbucks coffee before, and not because I couldn’t wait another minute to sample these over-hyped, all-American treats now that they’ve finally arrived in South Africa. It was worth the wait because waiting in those lines was a fun way to spend my Sunday afternoon. Also, I learned something. The line at Krispy Kreme, which remains lengthy even though the shop arrived in November 2015. The line at Starbucks, which opened less than two weeks ago. I’ve always made fun of South Africans who wait in long lines when American and European chains first arrive here. It’s happened a lot recently: Burger King, H&M, Krispy Kreme and now Starbucks. How silly, I’ve always thought, to freak out about such mediocre brands. I drove past the lines, laughing and shaking my head. I wrote snarky Facebook posts. Yesterday, I was sitting at home without much […]

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Inside Industry Bakery

Quickie Restaurant Review: Industry Bakery in Emmarentia

A few weeks ago I organized an Internations coffee gathering at Industry Bakery in Emmarentia. I had been to Industry briefly once before, but didn’t sit down to eat. This time I ordered a couple of coffees and a full breakfast, so I thought I’d give the place a quick review in 400 words or less. Inside Industry Bakery. Before this recent visit I already knew that Industry has a pleasant atmosphere (I love the industrial feel of the interior) and good coffee. But I was surprised by the interesting breakfast menu. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the menu and now I can’t find it online, so I don’t know the exact description of what I ate. But it was innovative and tasty. I wish I could remember exactly what this breakfast dish is called. It was a burrito-like wrap, which tasted sort of like a thin crumpet, with a spicy egg mixture inside.  The man sitting next to me ordered these beautiful chocolate flapjacks, which contain no sugar and are therefore “Banting-friendly”. I didn’t try them. The man said they were good but could do with a little Banting-unfriendly sweetener. Either way, I love the look and would […]

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Joburg’s Best-Kept Mexican Food Secret

A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation to visit Azteca Mexican Food Products, a Mexican food factory in Joburg. Azteca’s owner, Gaby Agraz, reached out to me because I had just published a post about Mexican restaurants in Johannesburg. Most of the restaurants I wrote about are Azteca’s clients, Gaby told me, and she would love to show me the business. (This wasn’t the first time Gaby had extended an invitation. She first reached out to me more than a year ago but somehow I kept forgetting to follow up. I didn’t know what I was missing.) I finally made the trek up to Midrand last week, with my friends Fiver and Candida. Once I got there, I couldn’t believe I’d waited so long. Azteca is a magical Mexican food wonderland. Rows and rows of Mexican deliciousness at the Azteca retail shop. That’s Gaby on the left. The big shelf in the middle has cans of black beans — decent black beans are soooo hard to find in South Africa — as well as pinto beans, both whole and refried. Azteca’s Story Gaby has an interesting story. She and her husband, Hector, moved to South Africa from Mexico in the mid 1990s, when Hector was working for […]

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One Eloff Joburg

Big News About Joburg’s Newest Inner City Development

This week I got a behind-the-scenes look at No. One Eloff, an exciting new development project in downtown Joburg. No. One Eloff, at the corner of Eloff Street and Wemmer Jubilee Road in Johannesburg. You can’t miss it, as it’s the only neon-blue-and-yellow building in town. You’ve probably seen it while driving down the M2 highway toward the airport. No. One Eloff is a huge, 1950s-era building that used to be an automotive storage/sales facility (for Rolls Royce and then for Chrysler) and later became an OK Bazaar and then an auction house for repossessed cars. A couple of years ago, a company called Molten Black purchased the building, with the plan of turning it into a residential/retail property. That plan is now in full swing. This building, which was basically a huge garage when Molten Black bought it, has been converted into an apartment building with 300 loft-style apartments. These apartments, which target young South Africans earning in the range of R10,000 to R15,000 (roughly $650-$1000) per month, are now for rent and the building is already about half occupied. Webster Maboka, the friendly doorman in the No. One Eloff lobby, which is already complete. I dig Webster’s three-piece suit. Inside one of […]

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Mexican food Johannesburg cafe mexicho

Some Updates on Mexican Food in Johannesburg

There were only two Mexican restaurants in Johannesburg when I moved here in 2010. This didn’t surprise me — in fact I was surprised that there were any Mexican restaurants at all. There are very few Mexican people in South Africa and one can’t expect authentic Mexican food in a country without Mexicans. Times have changed, however, and today there are Mexican restaurants popping up all over town. There still aren’t many Mexicans — just non-Mexicans trying to cook Mexican food, some more successfully than others. I’ve blogged about Mexican food many times and while I like to consider myself a Joburg Mexican food connoisseur, I admit that I haven’t been able to keep up with all of the new places that have opened. There is a Mexican place in Pineslopes that I haven’t been to yet, another one in Rosebank, and probably more that I don’t even know about. It might be a while until I get to all these places, so let me give you the information I have now before I fall even further behind. 1) Baha Taco I’ll start with the biggest news first. Baha Taco has opened a permanent restaurant in Norwood. Baha Taco’s new digs. I discovered Baha […]

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Johannesburg’s Best German Bakery

I feel that I’ve done Joburg’s German expats a disservice. I’d known about the Black Forest Bakery for years. I’d bought their rye bread from the Melville Spar, where it is sometimes (but not always) for sale in the bakery section. (I’m not a huge fan of rye bread, to be honest, but I still buy the Black Forest rye from time to time because it’s so much better than that bland, packaged Sasko bread favored by mega-grocery chains like Spar.) I’d even been into the Black Forest Bakery shop in Braamfontein — 102 Juta Street, about three blocks up from all the trendy bars and coffee shops — once or twice to buy bread. I knew that the bakery is German-owned and has been around for a couple of decades. But I didn’t totally “get” the Black Forest Bakery until I went there last week, with a German. My German friend Fiver fills her shopping bag with German cakes from Black Forest Bakery. The sales lady behind the counter is South African but speaks German, because she’s worked at the bakery for many years and catered to countless German clients. Fiver invited me to meet her for breakfast at Black […]

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Who Even Are You, Cappadocia?

Cappadocia. Seriously. Who even ARE you?* Cappadocia. Cappadocia is too strange and eerie and spectacular to describe in words. More than two weeks after my visit, I’m still almost too overwhelmed to try. I’ll leave it to Wikipedia and Lonely Planet to provide more detailed descriptions of this otherworldly place. But briefly, Cappadocia is an area in the central Anatolian region of Turkey known for its crazy sandstone rock formations — called fairy chimneys — and its colourful history involving ancient underground cities, cave dwellings, and rock-hewn churches. Meruschka and I went there for three days on the tail end of our weeklong stay in Istanbul. (Cappadocia is about two hours by plane from Istanbul.) Where I stayed in Cappadocia We stayed in Göreme, a small town that is one of Cappadocia’s tourist centers, at a boutique hotel called the Cappadocia Cave Suites. (Thanks to Murat and the team at Gezimanya for arranging our stay.) Cappadocia Cave Suites, like most hotels and guesthouses in Cappadocia (and many other businesses and private homes), is built into an actual cave. My luxurious cave suite. The Cappadocia Cave Suites from below.  View from the Cappadocia Cave Suites. Göreme was a great place to stay — quaint, easily walkable, with plenty of restaurants […]

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