For our last dinner club of 2014, we went to District Six – a small eatery in Emmarentia that serves Cape-Malay food. Cape-Malay is an ethnic community in South Africa that originated from Southeast Asia, mostly Javanese people from present-day Indonesia and Malaysia. When the Dutch landed at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa in the 1600s, they brought with them a lot of slaves and political dissidents from their colonies in Southeast Asia. Over the years, their numbers grew and they slowly became an inherent part of the Western Cape. Subsequently, their culture and traditions also seeped into South Africa and can be easily seen in the vibrant and colorful houses of the Bo-Kaap in Cape Twon, the mosques and the food – spicy bobotie, samoosas and yellow rice among other things.
The District Six Eatery is a culmination of everything Cape Malay. From the vibrant and colorful decor – walls lined with old pictures, carnival costumes and colorful walls, to the food and the warmth of Cape Malay hospitality. Owned and run by Grace Fourie, this restaurant serves some of the best Cape Malay food I have had in South Africa, together with an efficient and warm service.
Our group was large, about 10 people but all our food was served together and each dish was delicious. For starters, most of us had the samoosas. Hot and crispy with a choice of mince and vegetarian, served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Priced at R7 a piece, they disappeared at lightening speed.
For mains, I had the prawn curry. It had the most distinct Cape Malay flavours and was nice and spicy. Just right for my Indian palate! So if you are not a big fan of hot food, go with the lamb or chicken curry. In the specials, they had the Denning Vleis Lamb, a slow cooked lamb, make overnight. I was told that it was simply divine! For the vegetarians, there was the five bean curry and the vegetable curry. some of the other dishes that we tried were the oxtail in pumpkin stew and the tomato bredie – lamb stew slow cooked with vegetables such as tomato, cabbage, pumpkin, etc. All the mains were served with rice and we were given two huge (HUGE) bowls of rice – one white and the other yellow with raisins. The portion size was quite big and almost all of us had enough leftover for takeaways. Unfortunately there are no pictures of the food as I was too busy eating!
For dessert, the milk tart came recommended. The slices were huge so we pretty much shared one between two (even then, I could not finish mine). A few at the table tried the Malay koeksisters – oval, fried spicy dumplings dipped in hot syrup and sprinkled with dried coconut. These were not liked much and I am guessing that’s because my friends are more used to the more syrupy and sweeter version of the Afrikaner koeksisters.
Pricing is a bit steep for an eatery of this size. Most of the mains cost R100 and above. A meal for two (2 starters, 2 mains and 1 dessert), will cost approximately R300-350. I have not included any drinks in this estimate.
Corner Greenhill and Barry Hertzog Road, Emmarentia.
Tuesday-Saturday: 12 Noon to 2:30 PM, 6 PM to 9:30 PM
Sunday: 12 Noon to 3 PM