Award-winning chef Vusi Ndlovu and Edge restaurateur Absie Pantshwa have brought their culinary celebration of the continent to the famed Cape Town hotel. The residency sees the talented young chef serve up what is undoubtedly his finest cooking yet at the Oasis Bar of the iconic pink property.
In what is touted as a holistic celebration of Africa, the team delivers an impeccable multi-course tasting menu that focuses on merging under-used ingredients with cutting-edge technique in recipes passed down from generation to generation. It’s a thrilling celebration of African heritage and cooking.
The journey begins with a trio of snacks from the kitchen. Plump and fresh Saldana Bay oysters are dressed with a Senegalese kaani sauce — the hot sauce here given a tart and tangy twist with the addition of tamarind — and a 109-dayold burnt-onion vinegar. It’s a brilliant start, with the dish delivering all the spicy, salty, sour, and umami flavours you’d look for in an oyster and then some.
It's then on to the tastes of Ethiopia with a dish that merges two traditional foods. The kitfo of raw, finely chopped topside beef is marinated in a spiced clarified butter (niter kibbeh) and served on toasted injera (fermented flatbread). The tender marinaded meat, rich butter, and crispy, sour flat bread come together in an impressive mouthful of bold flavours and textures. Rounding out the snacks is a dish that will no doubt invoke nostalgia for any South African – mielies, hot off the coals, with butter and salt. Of course, here the butter is toasted hay and the salt baleni, which, according to the chef, is the only naturally sourced salt in South Africa.
This is followed by the bread course, an ode to the chef ’s grandmother, which sees ujeqe (a Zulu steamed bun) served with a rich, deep, and intensely flavoured beef essence. The fluffy steamed bread squashes between your fingers as you use it to mop up the last of this decadent sauce. The chef ’s grandmother would be impressed. Next, it’s on to the poached mussels, served with charcoal grilled cabbage, julienned apple, and a Zamalek broth. It’s a dish that champions the fire, with the smokiness of the cabbage the star, while the apple adds freshness and the broth a superb bitter-sweet twist.
The first of the two mains is the chicken yassa, with the chef once again looking to Senegal for inspiration. Deboned chicken thighs are marinated and served with a black-garlic dust, buttery chicken sauce, chicken-fat-cooked carrot and onions, fermented carrots, and a chicken-skin crumb in a stellar dish. The second main is aged beef with a mopani-worm soy sauce — once again, it’s a phenomenal combination of smokiness, acidity, and saltiness.
The tender slices of steak are served with charred lettuce, fermented vegetable paste, and burnt cream, together with a touch of that beef essence from the bread course that just brings the dish together. A peach palate cleanser brings the savoury part of the meal to a close. Dessert is a showstopper and a brilliant interpretation of egusi — a West African technique of toasting and then crushing melon seeds, which are used to make soup. Here they’ve taken the concept and turned it on its head, transforming the rich and nutty melon-seed powder into a gorgeous whipped panna cotta, which is sandwiched between rooibos sponge and an egusi brittle. The dish is finished with rooibos jelly, melon sorbet, and compressed melon. It’s the perfect end to a sensational tasting menu. Edge is chef Vusi at his best.
The remarkable exercise in balance sees heritage meet contemporary cooking, and age-old recipes are brought to life through impressive technique. The experience offers a glimpse of what the future of fine dining in Africa could look like… and I, for one, think it’s looking incredibly, magnificently bright. A truly exceptional celebration of Africa and the bounty it provides. edgerestaurant.africa