#Trending found a restaurant in Illovo, Joburg, that is worth a visit.
When my date and I arrive at The Prawnery, a small crowd of elderly looking white folks are standing in the dainty dining space listening to a man explain the rules for a game that’s about to begin.
It’s singles’ night and the game is a bit like bingo.
Owner Shaniel Mjekevu joins us, and we discuss seafood. The restaurant is furnished simply, which Mjekevu says was deliberate.
There’s a well-polished wooden floor and attractive light fittings that look like they are made from wicker baskets and rope.
The bar area is small – it’s like one you might frequent after a long day’s work and has many regulars.
Rich, older white homies are rocking brightly coloured flamingo shirts and slacks.
Mjekevu has been captaining this seafood restaurant for seven months.
“This is usually our patronage, as you can see, although we do get a few younger people towards the weekend,” she says.
“People take this restaurant seriously, and we are trying to bring a more relaxed feel to seafood.”
She mentions how the concept of prawns or fish is not very broad – I mean, I still have family members who look at me funny when I order anything like it.
Mjekevu wants to shift this perception, and she’s doing a stellar job with her neighbourhood bistro.
Vietnamese spring rolls (R60)
Vietnamese spring rolls. pictures:supplied
A good spring roll is hard to come by, and this one was on point. None of that crumbly pastry that makes traditional ones challenging to eat.
This spring roll was a delicious cold version – a bit of salad and halloumi wrapped in soft rice paper.
Drizzle a little lemon on there and your mouth will love you.
Asian king prawn dumplings (R80)
Asian king prawn dumpling. pictures:supplied
The prawn dumplings were unexpectedly crunchy, and had just enough of a hot bite to make you want more without rushing for a glass of water.
Soft-shell crab (R100)
I found this to be a little too deep-fried at first, but more flavours revealed themselves with each bite and I ended up polishing most of them off.
It could’ve been better, although I must concede to not being the biggest fan of crab.
Legendary creamy garlic and white wine mussels and rock shrimp
Garlic and white wine mussels pictures:supplied
These are the shellfish that fail to impress some steadfast people of melanin.
It is a bit of an awkward dish to eat, but once you lift the mussel out of the shell and dip it into the garlic sauce, the world’s troubles melt away.
The rock shrimp were also a treat – bite-sized bits of flavourful fish with a chilli kick to them.
The Prawnery did a great job with these by letting the essence of the sea steer the dish.
Crispy calamari (R70)
Crispy calamari. pictures:supplied
This is my usual go-to seafood dish. I prefer it grilled, but the deep-fried take wasn’t so bad.
At first, I thought it would have that Sun International deep-fried finish, but the chef managed to keep the calamari safe inside the batter so that it still tasted like fish in the middle.
Oyster shot (R35)
I’d not experienced this before and I thought it was going to involve an oyster in the glass, but it is a simple little Cactus Jack and tobacco, and is a revelation.
Be warned, it will have you stumbling into work a little late – especially if you drink more than one, which you will.