The Eastern food Bazaar, located in the centre of the city with entrances on both Darling and Long market Streets, is neither the best or the best-known restaurant in the city, but you will regard it as an exciting find if you have not been there. I had heard of it a couple of years ago from one of the guests who stayed in our Cape Town self-catering accommodation. It is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fragrant, really affordable, primarily Indian, food in a buzzing atmosphere with people from all walks of life and, judging from the different languages of the diners from all corners of the globe.
Although their website address is given as 96 Longmarket Street, where there is indeed an entrance, the main entrance is on Darling Street just opposite the old Post office building. The restaurant is a long and quite narrow passage situated in a Victorian building that used to be that of Wellington fruit growers. In busy Darling Street you could quite possibly walk past the entrance without even noticing what it offers, except for the Bollywood music and the enticing smell of myriad spices wafting out into the street . One enters into a dark canteen sort of eatery, but one decorated with ornate pillars, mirrors, wooden screens and carved doors from India and lots of gold glow adding to the Indian character. The food is offered at a range of serving stations all down the right-hand side that includes a selection of Eastern food so large that you may have difficulty making a choice. The food ranges from regional Indian curries; biryanis, Indian dosas and naan breads, Durban Bunny Chows, Tandoor dishes, Turkish kebabs and even Falafel and Schwarma; just to ensure that all tastes are catered for there is even the choice of Chinese dishes and a range of pizzas. Vegetarians will be happy to find plenty of choice to satisfy them. There are large illuminated and priced menus at each of the serving stations where you can browse until you find what you are looking for to satisfy that craving, but you will need to look for the pay stations located somewhere in the middle of all of this frenetic food activity where you pay for your choice, receive a receipt and then join the line at the appropriate serving station to collect your food against production of the chit.
Now, there cannot be better value for money food on offer anywhere in Cape Town. Although they have recently increased their prices by about 25%, the food is still amazing value for money. Lamb or Chicken Curries served with a generous portion of Basmati rice cost only R40; vegetarian dishes just R30. You will not only be amazed at the price but also the generous portions of food that you will be dished. You have to be seriously hungry to finish any of the meals. We ate there recently with some overseas visitors who could not believe that R40 could get you a fragrant and spicy Lamb Curry, with rice and a side dish of nourishing dhal. Equally exciting for them was the Bunny Chow- a half loaf of bread filled with your choice of Chicken or Lamb curry. The curries are spiced for Western palates, and will not blow your head off.
Be warned that there are enough people who know about this place to make it seriously bustling and noisy at lunch and dinner times. You will need to be patient as you stand in line to pay and then again to collect your food, but it is all efficiently organised and worth the wait. The tables and chairs are better quality than one may expect to find in such apace although the utensils with which to eat are plastic but remember that traditionally Muslims eat with the right hand, so get down and dirty your hands if you like. At busy times you may struggle to find a table unless you are made aware that there is also an elegantly decorated dining area up the polished wooden stairs that are found next to the entrance on Darling street. There are also clean neat and clean bathrooms to wash after your meal.
No alcohol is served or allowed as the restaurant is strictly Halaal, but you can order soft drinks and freshly made Lassis . You might want to cool the palate off with your choice of a range of enticing, cool, ice creams including Halwa and spiced flavours.
Eastern Food Bazaar
The Wellington, 96 Long Market St.
By :Horizon Cottages