(You'd think this would be a dust trap but a specialist team clean it all every day.)
Shaka Zulu Review
You enter Shaka Zulu from the Stable Market in Camden and an escalator takes you down to the first level. Instantly we were struck by the size of the place and it's incredible decor. There are friezes of 3D animal wood carvings covering all the walls and ceilings, plus towering Zulu warrior giants as tall as two floors. Sure, it's not subtle, but there's a fun vibe with funky music playing all the time.
After confirming our reservation, we walked past the Oyster Bar to the Lounge Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. I chose from the Zulu Innovations cocktail list and it was all I hoped for.
Once our table was ready, we were escorted down another escalator to the main dining room which is even bigger. I found service was professional and fast and we were able to ask advice on the dishes and an additional tasting menu was explained well.
Typically, I'm a vegetarian so not the best person to comment on the food here as South African food has a strong meat focus but my dining companions were thrilled to try the "Queen's Beef" as Shaka Zulu exclusively serve beef from the Queen's Sandringham estate. I was fortunate enough to meet the owner of Shaka Zulu and asked him how they managed to acquire the exclusive licence and he simply said he lives next door and went round to ask.
Barry Vera is the Head Chef and his culinary credentials are good with a track record of working in Michelin starred restaurants. We were seated next to the kitchen and after a 'disclaimer' that the language coming out of there can be strong when they get busy we enjoyed watching the speed and efficiency of the kitchen and waiting staff.
As the evening goes on, Shaka Zulu becomes more of a nightspot with entertainment such as African drumming and DJs. I didn't see this but I had a happy evening at Shaka Zulu. I have read some poor reviews from critics but I wonder if they came in too soon as everything was running smoothly when I visited in October 2010, two months after opening.
The place is over-the-top but an Egyptian theme never hurt Harrods so why shouldn't we have 60ft Zulu warriors in an underground restaurant in Camden?
The only downside if that dining here is not cheap but it's also not too expensive. The food is good quality and there are dining deals to be found.
Even as a vegetarian, I'll definitely go back just to see the reaction of friends when they see this glorious underground South African wonderland.
Opening Hours: 12pm to 2am.
Tel: 020 3376 9911
Official Website: www.shaka-zulu.com