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Review: Authentic Turkish cuisine at Mad Nomad at the Mall of Africa

Authentic Middle Eastern food can be a rare find in South Africa. Mall of Africa’s Mad Nomad, from the owners of Kream Restaurant, intends to change that. Hennie Fisher goes for a taste.

Mad Nomad restaurant. Photo supplied.

Fast facts

Best for: A fantastic Turkish dinner
Average main course: R140
Star ratings: Food: 4; Ambience: 4; Service: 4

Food

The menu kicks off with an impressive full page of meze, of which the majority are vegetarian options. There is nothing more engaging and satisfying than sharing many small bowls of meze with delicious piping hot bread. Try options such as roasted aubergine and tomato, spicy Antep tapenade served with a delicious pomegranate dressing, some of the best dolma you have ever tasted, and many more. Ask for one of those big billowy flat breads if you do not want one of the filled breads, but ensure you don’t miss sampling one of their pides. They come piping hot and authentically delicious.

A selection of food at Mad Nomad. Photo supplied.

The menu is organised into soups, salads and wraps, followed by main courses. No visit to a real Turkish restaurant would be complete without trying a traditional döner kebab or İskender kebap – the latter is most delicious and inventive, comprising thin slices of beef and lamb served with shredded flat bread. The entire dish is covered in a special tomato sauce and yoghurt. Of course, one could also sample chicken, oxtail, fish and other options, all infused with the lovely smoky flavour of coal fires.

Those who have eaten traditional rice pudding in Istanbul have nothing to fear, since Mad Nomad serves a delicious version. They also serve kazandibi, a classical caramelised milk pudding, and many other sweet treats.

Drinks

The Mall of Africa must be where people drink French champagne, as there are no less than 13 options available on the well-compiled wine list. It is organised according to varietals, ending with hard stuff and cocktails. Although one might think that choosing the right wine for Turkish food would be difficult, the predominant flavours could be likened to spicy Mediterranean, so one should do well choosing an aromatic wine if you need to play it safe, such as Paul Cluver’s Close Encounter Riesling. On the whole, it is a relatively familiar wine list with some interesting and carefully selected wines, such as La Vierge Anthelia, Ken Forrester Renegade and many more.

The breathtaking main painting in the restaurant. Photo supplied.

Service

Brand new restaurants often suffer from waiters that aren’t yet entirely up to speed, creating a sense that they hover ineffectively on the periphery. This is not the experience at Mad Nomad, where everyone appears to have had some training at their sister restaurant, Kream. That said, they are in the process of expanding the outside dining area, which means it will be a large floor space to cover and waiters will get a good workout.

Ambience

They are planning to add to and extend their current collection of public art. The restaurant group invests heavily in local artists so that diners can delight in sculptures and wall art. Of course, keeping in the style of a Turkish restaurant might limit that freedom, but the interior succeeds in offering a very contemporary modern yet authentic feel. It is a modern inviting space with lovely touches clearly referencing their Turkish origins.

The interior at Mad Nomad Restaurant. Photo supplied.

And…

The restaurant’s aim is to always employ a Turkish chef in the head chef position, so teaching is a big part of the culture here.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here

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