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A Culinary Culture: Extras

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Troyeville Hotel
The east side of the city (comprising the suburbs of Kensington, Observatory and Troyeville) is well known for Portuguese food, brought to the city by émigrés who moved here to escape the civil war in Mozambique in the late 1980s. A longtime hangout for journalists, artists, immigrants, intellectuals and sports fans, The Troyeville Hotel is an undisputed favorite. Here, fresh Mozambican seafood gets the Portuguese treatment daily—think sardines and prawns, huge espetadas and beef trinchado. Swing by on a weekend and join the outdoor barbeque, where you’ll eat peri-peri chicken, steak and fish while enjoying a view over the city skyline.

Diners at Shayona
In the heart of Joburg is Fordsburg, an area where South Africans of Indian and Pakistani heritage were forced to live in the bad old days. Many families stayed on, and now modern mosques sit higgledy-piggledy next to old-time shops selling everything from spices to fabrics. While there is a multitude of curry houses to choose from, Shayona is a landmark in this neighborhood, selling purely vegetarian fare: samosas, chili bites and traditional sweets soaked in cardamom-infused syrup and decorated with gold and silver leaf. Try the masala dhosa, a giant, crispy pancake wrapped around spiced potatoes with a range of sambals (chutneys) and dips.

Curry and bread at Shayona
Curry and bread at Shayona
Amsales Ceiling Mural
Pictured are the elaborate ceiling murals at Amsales.

Amsales Dining Tables

Fordsburg is also home to many immigrants from the Horn of Africa, and Ethiopian, Sudanese and Eritrean food is beginning to make a mark on the culinary landscape. Take a group and enjoy a variety of spicy Ethiopian treats and injera at Amsale’s, a restaurant in a building known informally as Little Addis in downtown Johannesburg. Not for the faint of heart, but undoubtedly worth the trip. Pictured are traditional Ethiopian dining tables at Amsales.

Spring rolls at Fisherman's Plate
Also downtown is Old Chinatown, deep in one of the oldest parts of the city. Chinese immigrants first came to the City of Gold in the late 1880s to work in the mines, and a handful of restaurants still exist in this old neighborhood. New Chinatown, in the suburb of Cyrildene, is home to more recent immigrants, and Derrick Avenue is the food hub: a street full of tiny eateries all crammed next to each other. Street food is big here—stop and buy a steamed bun full of minced pork and spring onions while you wander through the fresh-vegetable market. Finally, stop off at The Fisherman’s Plate for authentic crab curry and sizzling spare ribs. Pictured are spring rolls from The Fisherman's Plate.
The Fisherman's Plate
A happy diner at The Fisherman’s Plate
Crab Curry at The Fisherman’s Plate
Crab Curry at The Fisherman’s Plate

All dedicated chowhounds know that the best way to learn about a city is through its food, and Johannesburg, with its rich mining-town heritage, is no exception. We’re not talking fine dining here (although there is plenty in Johannesburg for the gourmet), rather those off-the-beaten-track places where locals flock, knowing that appearances can be deceptive—great food often emerges from the tiniest of kitchens. The culinary map of Johannesburg is as varied as the spices you’ll find in the food.

Photos by Rikki Hibbert

Spill It: Tell Us What You Think!

Love the photos in your magazine from the photographer Rikki. Really captures the emotion.
8/18/2010 3:09:58 AM

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