SHISA NYAMAS, KEEPING THE HOME FIRES BURNING

Fanning the flames of 21st century township eating

Here are the five finalists for this year’s Shisa Nyama Awards, a competition which aims to find the best in shisa nyama eating. Meet the judges and the finalists.

I love that DStv ad. The one where the soccer supporter sits in front of his TV patiently waiting for his friends to join him in watching a game. Instead Tiny and Bumba drag him off to a shisa nyama where they partake of  huge quantities of champagne and endless platters of meat – and leave him to pay the humungous bill. Officially, shisa nyama eating has come of age. No longer confined to townships or township residents, the shisa nyama style of  hospitality is now enjoyed by all communities. It’s all about the meat, the braaiing, the expensive booze, the live music, the vibe and the warm welcome.
To acknowledge the significant role shisa nyama venues are playing in the hospitality and tourist industries, Michelle Lewis, owner of Have Your Say, a marketing and public relations company, set up the Shisa Nyama Awards™ in 2016.
Her aim was to find Durban’s best shisa nyama venues and publicly acknowledge them. Another aim was to offer the public a list of such eating venues in Durban. In doing this she was sailing in unchartered waters. Up to this point there was no list of venues available and no previous awards for excellence.
The winner of last year‘s award was won by Café Skyzer, with One and Only coming in at second and Sbu’s Lounge coming third. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Max’s Lifestyle VIP Lounge and the People’s Choice Award was won by Eyadini.
The finalists for this years awards are:

Siphiwe Mcanyana, owner of Artizen, and one of this year’s finalists

Comfort Zone’s managing couple Londiwe Majola and Sphamandla ‘Spha’ Mzelemu. They are one of this year’s finalists.

THE FINALISTS

Artizen Restaurant & Lounge
One and Only Lounge
Comfort Zone
Cafe Skyzer
Mashamplanez Lounge

 Two venues which received special mentions are:
Metro Gents
The Joint Beach Café and Jazz Lounge

 MEET THE JUDGES

Buhle Mbonambi
Buhle, an arts, culture, lifestyle and entertainment journalist, is currently the Food & Drinks editor of Independent Newspapers.  He also edits the Sunday Tribune’s lifestyle magazine, SM.

Dennis Ngxongo
Dennis has a 16-year track record working in communications, from writing and reviewing to staging events. A former coffee judge for the Sunday Tribune’s Cafe Society, he has a love for all things lifestyle related and likes a good party.   

Lungi Nhlanhla 
MasterChef SA, season 1 Top 5 Finalist and owner of Lungi’s Corner, Lungi offers an elite food experience to private and corporate clients with intimate dinners, cooking classes and media services. Also a freelance food stylist, developer and writer. 

Meleney Cunniff 
Meleney has many years of experience in the hospitality industry  She is committed to maintaining high standards in both service and food. A dedicated coffee drinker, too, she was a judge for Cafe Society cappuccino awards. She believes that secret to success is a person with passion.

Sdu Gerasch
Originally from a small village in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Sdu has a larger than life personality. She is also a professional baker and an avid foodie, specialising in authentic African cuisines. While she prefers eating West and Central African dishes, she also enjoys the flavours of East and North Africa.

NOW READ THE REVIEWS

MASHAMPLANEZ LOUNGE 
Chesterville Extension 1 Intersection
Call 061 354 0028

Mashamplanez Lounge, one of the newer shisa nyama joints in the city, is located in what many call the shisa nyama capital of eThekwini… Chesterville. It’s not fancy. More township chic. But the VIP area has wood finishings and is not shabby at all. It’s a welcoming establishment,  easy to locate and, most importantly, the food is good. I visited during a very busy time, but was pleasantly surprised at being served freshly made  savoury pap, spicy chakalaka, and crunchy coleslaw with not too much mayonnaise. The meat was cooked to our specification was tender, juicy and seasoned perfectly. Kidneys were a bit overdone though. Still, it’s one of the best places I’ve visited for shisa nyama.
Make sure you bring cash as they do not have a card machine – Buhle Mbonambi

ARTIZEN RESTAURANT & LOUNGE 
P11 Ilovo road, KwaMashu.
Call 078 128 3268

 Set  in the heart of kwa Mashu township, north of Durban, Artizen is a modern take of a classy lounge, with elegant decor and a vibrant ambiance. They offer a selection of traditional cuisine and serve beautifully braaied meat. Apart from the evening meal, their menu includes a breakfast and lunch selection. It is advisable to get there a bit early, especially on weekends, as it’s normally packed. –
Sdu Gerasch

ONE AND ONLY LOUNGE
E943 Sidiya Place, KwaMashu
Call 081 737 7791

Situated in the northern part of Durban, in kwaMashu township, One and Only has a great kasi vibe. It’s big with locals and people from around Durban. It’s a nice place to  hangout with friends. Sadly it is only open on the weekends. It serves a good range of braaied meat and side dishes, as well as a selection of top-of-the range wines, spirits, beers and ciders.
I thought that the prices would be on cheaper side since it was in a township but, to my surprise, it was not so.
One quibble. They need to take better care of their restrooms, especially on busy nights.  – Sdu Gerasch

CAFÉ SKYZER
96 Gardens Drive, Durban
Call 079 470 2509

Every time I visit Cafe Skyzer I know why they won this competition last year. They offer a stellar experience with staff always willing to go the extra mile for customers. They serve a variety of well-prepared  meat, with accompaniments like chakalaka and pap as well as the option to order platters It’s also a great setting for sitting and chatting. All of this embodies exactly what this competition is about. I wish I could be a more regular visitor – Dennis Ngxongo

COMFORT ZONE JAZZ LOUNGE
48 Madondo, Road, Clermont
Call 061 319 6314

Comfort Zone Lounge is situated in Claremont. It’s a five minute drive from when you enter Claremont so, for non-locals, it’s easy to access.
There’s both inside and outside seating, with the inside offering more of a lounge VIP atmosphere, while the outside allows for a more relaxed vibe.
The only drawback is that there is only street parking.
But with more than just braai meat (shisa nyama) on the menu and a selective bar, one is not limited for choice, which allows the venue to draw in and host various crowds. Although open from lunch right into the night during the week, the vibe really heats up from Thursday to Sunday nights.
On some nights you might find Comfort Zone hosting an event with guests DJs. On regular nights you have your in-house DJs who can turn any visit into a real night out, kasi-style (township) – Lungi Nhlanhla

SPECIAL MENTIONS

METRO GENTS
B 277 Umlazi
Call 074 266 3608

Metro Gents is very up and coming and if they carry on as they are, they will soon be up there with the big boys. Great ambience, good meat and music at a level that still allows conversation, this venue deserves a special mention for a generally good experience.  – Dennis Ngxongo

THE JOINT BEACH CAFE AND JAZZ LOUNGE
98 O R Tambo Parade, South Beach.
Call 031 332 0805

The Joint’s location on South Beach is the most ideally placed venue to ensure a memorable experience. It’s not a traditional shisa nyama per se and while they serve a range of top quality braaied meat and interesting side dishes, it also offers breakfast and cafe style food. The Joint’s clean, crisp look, African-inspired decor, amazing views over the sea all guarantee an awesome venue to have a good time. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. – Dennis Ngxongo

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