Where: Marine Walk Shopping Centre Salta, Jabu Ngcobo Drive, Umdloti
Open: Sunday and Monday 8am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday 8am to 9pm
Call: 082 779 9966
Ingrid Shevlin and I went to explore the new Salta Centre at Umdloti. It’s a fairly unprepossessing centre. Like much of North Coast architecture, it sort of feels like someone has dumped a mini version of King Shaka International on the hillside among the cane.
But I am sure it will be popular with locals, having a SuperSpar and a Woolworths Food outlet. In between them is a string of restaurants spilling out into a central courtyard that has an astroturf area for a kiddies playground. Among them is a Mugg & Bean (predictable) and Waxy o’Connor (doubly predictable) but there’s also the Casa Nostra, which has moved in from the village, and a new speciality seafood restaurant and deli called Tightline.
The inside is one giant seafood emporium, with fridges advertising whole fish on ice. There are freezers down the centre containing every type of seafood imaginable. And the tables spill outside. One problem here is the wind – one side of the packed restaurant was unusable because it was basically a wind tunnel.
Our excellent waitress found us a seat at the bar where we could admire the whole fish until a table cleared on the lee side. We both had soft drinks, although there is a good wine selection for fish.
At least half the extensive menu was taken up with sushi options, which we didn’t particularly feel like at the time. All the usuals are there ‒ nigiri, maki, rainbow, bamboo and Californian rolls, roses, and sashimi, along with several platter options to share. But there are some “new era” sushi options, like panko crumbed salmon, tuna or crayfish rolls, or a sushi pizza (sushi rice is the base) or sushi doughnut. There’s also a Durban crab curry roll. Plenty for sushi lovers to sink their teeth into. You can even roll your own sushi.
For those not enamoured with seafood, there is a cheeseburger, a beef cut of the day and Parmesan and panko chicken.
We perused the main seafood menu. Seared scallops in a Cape Malay butter sauce sounded exciting, although we winced when we asked the SQ: R290 for three. We would try something more prosaic. There’s pickled octopus, and beetroot-cured salmon gravalax, along with line fish ceviche, prawn tartare, crab croquettes and langoustine carpaccio. This really did intrigue me, but Ingrid wasn’t keen. Fresh oysters were also an option.
Instead, we tried the langoustine pops (R110), prawn tempura (R95) and a lobster sandwich (R165). The pops were delicious. Juicy whole langoustines coated in a crisp crumb. One could easily hoover through plates of these. The only thing they didn’t need was an overly intense sweet dipping sauce. A good mayo would have done the trick. The prawns too were good ‒ four decent-sized prawns in a proper tempura batter. A pinch of salt in the batter would have helped, but we enjoyed them. The sandwich looked lovely but was slightly disappointing, although the crisp skinny chips it came with were magnificent. It was bland and needed more of the lobster filling to stuff that sweet brioche bread.
Being a late lunch, the linefish options of yellowtail and dorado had both run out. Yes, it was that busy on a Monday afternoon. We checked out that SQ and it was R290. Kingklip, deep sea hake and Norwegian salmon were all available, as were any number of ways with calamari or seafood platters. We decided to share the whole farmed kob (R458) cooked with their signature seafood rub and a compound butter. We saw the fish being prepped in the kitchen.
It was a treat ‒ soft, succulent, and incredibly tasty, with lemon wedges sliced into the fillet of the fish while it was cooking giving it an intensity. It was served with good home-made tartar and lemon butter sauces, and their fat chips were every bit as good as their skinny fries. We munched away merrily. It was one of the better fish preparations I’d had in some time.
We didn’t even look at dessert options. I am sure there were some. Instead we thought we would explore the centre.
In the top-of-the-range SuperSpar, we stumbled on the ice cream counter and a delightful young man who wanted us to try his wares. We both eyed the apple sorbet which he said he had made that morning. Fresh and intense with that deep green apple bite, it’s another reason to pop in here.
Food: 4 (for that lovely fish)
The Bill: R810 including two soft drinks.
The Independent on Saturday