SOUTH AFRICAN food had never caught my eye while I was living in Europe; chakalaka sounded more like a tribal dance than anything and I had no idea of what a malva pudding was.
But after coming to Australia and discovering there was more to the country than the 2010 world cup (that Spain won), I felt I must try some of its cuisine.
Baby Mammoth is a new restaurant in Northbridge’s busy William Street. Despite the constant buzz of people outside, the inside remains quiet, with low lights and soft music: the ingredients to step it up and try some new foods.
Despite having a small menu of only 11 entrées and seven mains, choosing was one of the hardest things I had faced in a while. My meals comrade and I decided to let our waiter, Ryan, decide for us. He recommended the samoosas ($12) and the prawns nacional ($17), a house speciality.
It’s important to note the place just got its full alcohol licence and has a wide range of alternative craft beers from stouts to pale ales.
The prawns — already de-shelled for easy enjoyment and cooked in beer — were simply delicious. The sauce was soft and refreshing.
The samoosas were just right in spice and perfectly contrasted by the sweetness of the plum and apple chutney.
As a mains I went for one of Baby Mammoth’s curries, the mutton bunny chow ($22). From the description I half-expected an old rabbit instead I was served a crunchy bun filled with meat, curry, chickpeas and yoghurt, a complete surprise and delight! It definitely challenged my tastebuds’ stamina for spicy but it was completely successful. You can even order a hot version of the plate (only recommendable to jalapeño lovers).
My food buddy ordered some beef brisket ($32), something similar to a squared block of soft melting beef with ‘slaw salad as a side and a sponge mielie bread to clean up the little hot touch of the monkey gland sauce. All blending perfectly on the mouth.
Still finding some gaps to fill in in our stomachs, we decided to order some malva pudding for dessert.
I was surprised to find out it came with butterscotch ice cream, but it definitely didn’t let me down. The texture is similar to a sticky date pudding: warm, soft and syrupy, working perfectly with the sweet ice cream and the soft orange jam. Definitely worth trying, and loving.
Baby Mammoth combines the best of South African cuisine with influences from countries that have sailed around Africa’s horn for the past 400 years.
Its food it’s a real explosion of flavour that makes any tastebuds dance. Mexicans aren’t the only place for spicy in town anymore!
by MARTA PASCUAL JUANOLA
Unit 2, 305 William Street, Northbridge
Open for dinner Monday to Sunday