Those of you that know me personally will be able to attest to one thing about me. Sweet Jesus I am a fussy man when it comes to dining out.
I think its related to the fact that over the years of travel, the years of laziness and a lot of touring with comedy, that I have eaten out at more than my fair share of restaurants, take aways and other assorted shite labled as food. Nothing pisses me off more than stingy portions, poor service and shite food.
I have reached a point where my taste buds have gone on strike. No longer do they wish to try the culinary tests of some supposed chef. I just want quality, quantity, value and good service. It always sucks when you find a restaurant or food place that sort of ticks one or two of the boxes, but not all.
The Eastern Food Bazaar is one of those places. I do not think there is a food establishment in the country that offers the range and quantity of food for the prices they charge. I am basing this review not on a one off visit to this place. I am for all intents and purposes a bloody regular here. But its the regularity here that gives me my angle on this review. For no two visits here are the same. The quality varies from visit to visit. And by vary…I mean VARY. I have gone in late in the evening (they close up at 10pm) and chowed down and felt like the curry was made my the hands of Krishna himself. The butter chicken both warm and tender and massive in portion. The naan just perfectly baked in the tandoori. I have also gone in, taken a bite of something, and sort of been a bit sick.
See what makes me go back here is the cost. They prepare lots of the food in advance. Some of which is prepared fresh as to the order. I have between my brother and I pretty much had everything on the menu. As a rule. We will not touch the “Chinese” section of the stalls. Don’t even have the slightest clue as to why its even there. The shawarma’s (Schuwarm, Shwarma,Shaurma, chawarma, shoarma, Doner Kebab, shawarma, Schuwarmararama or whatever your culture chooses to call the food of the drunk) are not much to write home about either. But its the value that counts.
I think the biggest problem is that things are so cheap. So you buy a meal (and its going to fill you) and you don’t like it…So what.. you only spent like R25 to R30 on it. whatever, so you keep it wrapped up and give it to one of the homeless folk outside. For that kind of money, why not try something else…its food roulette anyway. Sometimes your gamble pays off.
One thing though that really brings the place down. Is the ordering system. I can imagine the meetings the owners had before opening the place. The thought that went into the décor and layout must have taken some time. Then in a last minute panic they forgot that somehow folks need to pay for their food and place orders. So you are forced to join a series of queues that are places in the middle of the venue. This in turn crowds the areas that folks are waiting for their food orders to come through. Once you make your choices, you are expected to have some subtle grasp of telekinesis and mind reading of surly chefs. You then take a plethora of till slips to each individual area to have your food either served or prepared. Now this may seem fine. You are waiting for your Butter Chicken, but the dude on the tandoori couldnt give a toss about your naan, or that the lamb kebab has suddenly finished. Eek aaargh…mucho annoyance.
You are forced to stand there like some toss pot whilst a crew of cooks faff and kafoodle about doing their utmost best to avoid any form of communication. Like I said. Once you have mastered Telekinesis, or a smattering of swearing in a variety of cultural languages from Tamil to Swahili, you will get served.
Take Away portions are never as good as the sit in option. And I do recommend that. The interior décor really is lovely.
Now Cape Town has many Indian restaurants. Some of which are bloody expensive and the food quality only marginally better. I seriously doubt you will find me in another Indian Restaurant at any time in the future. I will be returning to the Eastern Food Bazaar for some time to come. But my return is more like falling back and having a cigarette after quitting smoking. You said it was your last one…But you have been drinking and you cannot resist.
Speaking of which.. all food is Halaal. So don’t bring a bottle of wine, keep your “Cradle of Filth” t-shirt for Gandalfs and just enjoy the gamble that it is.
The pro’s of the place.
Value, Quantity, Choice, stunning decor.
The con’s of the place.
Service sucks, Its like waiting for a loaf of bread in old communist Romania under Nicolae Ceusescu.
Quality of food varies like the weather in Cape Town
Fairly dodgy crew of folks wandering around closer to the taverns round the corner. Be prepared to rub chilli in the eye’s of a tikked up tosspott