Take a trip down to flavourtown at the vibey Marabi Club
Chef Katlego Mlambo's pop-up, in New Doornfontein, offers the hottest food and jazz in Jozi
What do African Carrot, Kat’s Broc, Miss Piggy, Sexy Chick and Cheeky Prawn have in common? They are all dishes on the menu of the vibey Marabi Club in Doornfontein, Johannesburg. It's the brainchild of SA’s hottest chef, Katlego Mlambo, who has the enviable knack of being able to match flavours you’d least expect to be bedfellows, like miso and peri peri in the Sexy Chick dish.
A surprisingly good duo of flavours come together with tender sous vide chicken to which Mlambo has boldly added another dollop of spice in the form of Indian curried sweetcorn in a velvety smooth velouté, and another surprise, a couple of smoked, charred cocktail tomatoes. At R240 for the dish, three of us tucked into the delight, fighting over the last smear of velouté. So good.
We’d kicked off on a seafood roll, loving the small tapas-style eating, each small helping of intense flavour combos surprising the taste buds without being confusing, a sign of a good chef. Perhaps the award for the prettiest dish of the night was the spicy sashimi dish, a mound of lightly cured fish with tamarind, coconut, pickled jalapeños and a sprinkling of the finest and most beautiful fronds of chilli, like silk over the top, R160.
We’d dressed up for the occasion on the Saturday night outing, though we soon discovered we were not nearly as snazzy as the hip and happening crowd packed into the club on the night.
The bustling place was full of good cheer, with tables of trendies soaking up the strains of the live jazz bar, the music starting off slow, a bit like the roll of the dishes, and, as the tempo increased, so the flavours intensified.
We’d started with a plump oyster, one each at R40 a pop, dressed Thai- style with a sprinkling of fresh coriander. It felt too strong, overpowering the delicate flavour of the mollusc.
Interesting that of the many dishes we enjoyed the most outstanding were the two vegetable ones, the African Carrot and Kat’s Broc. It takes great skill to make carrot and broccoli roll with the flavour punches as they did. The carrot came lightly spiced and super melt-in-the-mouth, roasted in duck fat served with fermented apple, a carrot purée and pickled pineapple that cut the richness beautifully, R160. Kat’s Broc was served in a pool of Gorgonzola sauce, topped with roasted nuts and finished with a dollop of fermented honey, R170.
“I’m so excited to be back,” Mlambo told us after the meal.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been able to cook food my way,” he said with his signature infectious wide smile. One can feel that enthusiasm in his food. “During the pandemic so many great chefs took a hit and lost their passion, including myself, so this is an opportunity to do what I love most and I’m grabbing it with both hands.”
The Mlambo pop-up in the atmospheric Marabi Club in Hallmark House is where good food meets soul music and great vibes meet. Described as offering some of the hottest jazz in Jozi, this one comes with big helpings of good tastes. Definitely worth dropping by.
The Marabi Club is open from Thursday to Saturdays from 6pm till late. Mlambo's pop-up runs until March 26 and is located at the Maboneng Precinct at 54 Siemert Rd in New Doornfontein. For more information, contact 010 591 2879.