Melrose Arch’s High Street and Square have recently undergone a gastronomic transformation, with five new restaurants opening their doors in the last three months, and another just announcing an exciting change.
31 July was Moyo restaurant’s last day at Melrose Arch. From 1 August, the Square turned home to Kitamu, a new, independent restaurant that, like its predecessor, offers a superior African experience and food. (Kitamu means ‘delicious or ‘tasty’ in Swahili, one of the most widely spoken languages in Africa.)
“I am passionate about Africa,” says Sharlotte Naidu, owner of Moyo Melrose Arch for the past three years and now Kitamu. “I’ve visited many countries in this beautiful continent of ours, including Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt, and I love the beauty of Africa and the warmth and friendliness of its people. And, of course, the food. Each trip was a culinary delight.
“On a recent holiday in Morocco, I had a wonderful time visiting the spice markets and learning about the cuisine. I was fascinated to discover that the famous Moroccan spice is actually a blend of 35 spices, each carefully selected to complement the other, and I brought back a large amount to use in dishes at Kitamu. Each dish served at Kitamu will be authentic, a carbon copy of the dish served in the country from which it originates.”
Explaining her decision to open Kitamu, Naidu says: “My agreement with Moyo came to an end and I decided the time was right for me to launch my own restaurant. I want to bring the warmth, love, sense of family and ubuntu for which Africa is renowned across in the food. I want diners to taste the heart and soul of the Kitamu family.
“The Kitamu family is my brilliant team, many of whom have been here for years and will be continuing to deliver exceptional food and service. Dan Mothupi, my baker, has been working here for 18 years, and Dennis Dlamini has been in the kitchen for 16 years.”
Kitamu’s menu, while different to that offered previously, is wholly African, with dishes like Mozambican chicken, North African bread, ostrich steak, kudu skewers, crocodile pies, fried mopane worms and springbok shank pie to tantalise the taste buds. Maputo chicken curry is cooked pole pole (‘slowly, slowly’) as it is in the Mozambican capital to maximise the flavour, while the Hout Bay fish and chips will almost have diners believing they can smell the sea. The Moroccan slow-braised lamb shank can only be described as kitamu.
Ending a meal without a traditional South African dessert like malva pudding, koeksisters or beetroot cheesecake is unthinkable, so these favourites were top of the list when the menu was being compiled.
Coffee plays a key role in African trade, with a number of countries renowned for their beans, so naturally nothing but the best java will be served at Kitamu, which will be serving coffee from Bean There Fair Trade Coffee. Diners can sit back and relax, enjoying the ambience of Melrose Arch’s Square, as they sip on a cup of Ethiopian, Kenyan, Rwandan, Tanzanian, Burundian or Congolese coffee.