Restaurant Review

Moyo Zoo Lake's new winter menu is wonderfully hearty

It's worth leaving the warmth of your couch to enjoy this comforting fare, writes Yolisa Mkele

05 July 2017 - 13:34 By Yolisa Mkele
When you're at Moyo Zoo Lake, you almost forget you're in Johannesburg.
When you're at Moyo Zoo Lake, you almost forget you're in Johannesburg.
Image: Supplied

Of late trendy eaters have found themselves with a spread from across the globe.

Having got tired of the usual trifecta of Italian, French and US dishes, foodies and their suppliers are venturing further abroad for something tasty to tickle their tongues.

Sadly, though it has become relatively easy to find even South Korean food, the same cannot be said for African cuisine lest you dive into the bowels of the CBD or are ready to put up with the Maboneng crowd.

Moyo's mussel soup.
Moyo's mussel soup.
Image: Yolisa Mkele

Moyo in Zoo Lake has long been a beacon for culinary continentalism, though not threateningly, so those who are melanin deficient need not worry about chicken's feet.

Its new winter menu is another attempt to convince people that your taste buds don't need to travel all the way to Mexico to find something exotic and delicious.

For the uninitiated, Moyo has a distinctly African feel, in the touristy sense.

To get to the entrance you pass through a curio store laden with wood carvings and the kind of Afro-bricolage that would excite first-time Chinese and US visitors.

The restaurant itself is large, perhaps too large. Sure you get to eat without elbowing someone in the face but it does feel a touch cavernous, almost as if you have been swallowed by a titanic version of one of the sculptures you've just walked past.

The outdoor area, though, offers a particularly pretty dappled sunlight effect as the sun sets. From an aesthetic perspective Moyo's best quality is isolationism.

When you are there you almost forget that you're in Johannesburg. The landscaping around the restaurant creates a kind of secret-garden feel.

Come hungry when you're ready to try out the new winter menu. The starters are hearty and taste as if your tongue has been dipped in joy.

I tried a mussel soup bathing in lemony goodness and armed with hefty slices of bread.

That was followed by a serving of short ribs on a bed of mash, seemingly inspired by lunches my mother made.

Generally it is pretty difficult  to trust ribs the essence of which you can't lick off your fingers afterwards but these were everything I've ever required of ribs - to taste good and occupy a vast amount of real estate in your gut.

The line fish and jollof rice combination also tasted like a guilty pleasure. It was at this point the menu defeated us.

Warm dessert on an increasingly chilly winter night is usually a great way to end the night, but our stomachs had reached carrying capacity.

To be honest it is a fight I would be more than happy to lose again.

There are very few excuses to leave the warmth of your couch during winter. An evening of accessible African food and a few glasses of cabernet sauvignon is as good an excuse as any.

• This article was originally published in The Times.