Fordsburg and Mayfair are great places to go for really good Indian food. Fordsburg is close to the city centre with Mayfair further to the west. While they are predominantly Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani, there has been a recent increase of Eastern, Middle Eastern and North African immigrants. Don’t expect restaurants with ambience but the excellent home cooking, subtle spicing and amazing value for money are a win. Plus there is a great buzzy vibe in the evening, especially on a Friday evening and during Ramadan. Flourescent light and plastic cloths take second place when served with excellent curries, various different dahls and the naan breads and roti are to die for. Of course they are all alcohol free and they do not allow BYO.
Al-Makka Bright lights, very basic decor but great food and on a Friday evening full of local families. Open daily for lunch and dinner +27 11 838-2548 52 Central Rd, Fordsburg
Bismillah’s North Indian and Pakistani; Where the Indian cricket team eat when they are in Joburg; Wonderful chicken korma; +27 11 838 8051 76 Mint Rd Cnr Bree, Fordsburg
Shunarga Tandoori chicken wonderful bryani and as with other eateries in Fordsburg – great prices 79 Mint Road, Fordsburg +27 11 838-5533
The Oriental Plaza is home to the Golden Peacock. Having mis-timed shop hours there one Friday lunch time when shopkeepers had closed up for midday prayers, I ‘killed time’ at the Golden Peacock. Worried that it would be greasy fast food and not knowing what to expect, I ordered what I now know as Tali. And it was delicious – small bowls of various dahls, rice, vegetables, curd and of course, roti. Highly recommended if you are at the Plaza.
Further to the west of Fordsburg is Mayfair also offering many modest excellent-value-for-money eateries.
Shayona’s A firm favourite of mine for take-aways this modest restaurant is run by followers of the 7th Century Hindu guru Swarmi Narayan so all vegetarian. The paneer cheese is excellent. Expect to pay about R50 for 2 course. 74 Church St, Mayfair+27 11 837 2407 Closed Mondays
Al Hamra’s Like other eateries in the area, don’t expect anything special either in the building exterior or the decor. This is not a restaurant, this is where the local people (in the sense of living in the neighbourhood) eat. It’s tasty, wholesome and amazingly cheap. If you are near Fordsburg during the day make a trip to get a take-away from Al Hamra. +27 11 837 8615 99 Church St.
For meaty treats (and not Indian I know) try Burhan’s Butchery and Kebab House an excellent Turkish restaurant also in Church St, n0 79 right next door to Saleh’s bakery. Don’t expect atmosphere and glamour but expect huge portions at very cheap prices. It’s a small menu with simple fare -lots of chicken and meat as well as Turkish flat bread – on offer. The chicken chops are the best! +27 11 0251123 Best to go over the week-end for a lunchtime meal as the kitchen closes at 7.30 ish in the evening.
Although close to the Sandton CBD ( the wealthiest square mile in Africa) the commercial strip along Benmore’s 11th St is far from glitzy and glamorous. But it is home to Delhi Dahrbar which serves excellent authentic North Indian food such as khadi a delicious lamb dish. 138 11th St Parkmore +27 11 883 4407. Open 10.30 till late
The Chinese community traditionally lived in the south west of Joburg’s CBD area in Ferreirastown and more recently moved to Cyrildene with restaurants clustered around Derrick Ave near Bruma Lake. While not the most salubrious area and the eateries very rough around the edges, they offer good food at very good value.
Chinatown Szechwan Chinese ; Lots of hot and spicy with an abundance of garlic and chillies Open daily 10 to 10; BYO no corkage 16 Derrick Ave Cyrildene 072 989 3788
Fisherman’s Plate Taiwanese – crab curry; whole steamed fish with ginger Open Tues-Sun lunch and dinner; Box wine by the glass, Chinese beers, BYO at R20 corkage 18 Derrick Ave 011- 622 0480
Fong Mei Cantonese cuisine ; Open Tues- Sun lunch and dinner Licensed and wine ‘by the cup’ no BYO ; 18c Derrick Ave +27 11 615-1384
Long Men Beijing cuisine; Peking Duck needs to be ordered the day before; open daily lunch and dinner open Tues-Sun lunch and dinner Licensed, No BYO 41 Derrick Ave +27 11 622-6861
The remnants of Johannesburg’s original Chinatown in Ferreirastown in Jhb South west CBD still has a few remaining restaurants. There are moves afoot to revitalize this Chinatown area of town … watch this space The Swallow Inn Serves great chow mein and is still at 6 Commissioner St +27 11 838 2946
Closer to ‘home’ in the Hyde Park Mall is the Red Chamber specializing in a Mandarin style cooking with lots of ginger and chili. Vegetarians are well catered for. +27 11 325 6048
The Bamboo Centre in Melville is home to the Great Eastern Food Bar where you can find Dim Sum, gyoza dumplings and ramen specialities. 53 Rustenberg Rd +27 11 482 2910 Open 12-23.00. Closed Mondays and closes at 20.00 on Sunday evenings.
Sai Thai Sai Thai means ‘connected’ to Thailand and it lives up to its name as this restaurant serves some of the most authentic Thai food to be found around. Lots of lemon grass; home made chili relish and try the thod mun pla fishcakes or the nam tok mhu pork; lots of vegetarian offerings; Tues-Sun lunch and dinner. Shop 1, Cyrildene Centre cr Marcia & Derrick Ave +27 11 615-1339
Koi in Rosebank serves high quality seafood and Asian-inspired dishes, like the rock shrimp tempura roll, chicken and ginger dim sum, and sesame-crusted seared tuna topped with wasabi mayo and sweet potato crisps. It’s pricey but their food is excellent +27 11 447 2440 The Firs, Shop 19, corner Cradock and Biermann Avenue, Rosebank
Yamato in Illovo has been around for years and serves consistently good sushi and tempura. Open daily. + 27 11 268 0511 198 Oxford Road, www.yamato.co.za
This list could go on forever but there’s a limit to how much I can research and eat and you can read!