Restaurant review: Bo-Kaap Kombuis

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 15 May 2012

When Yusuf Larrney was a little boy, he used to walk past number 7 August Street in the Bo-Kaap (and the resident yapping dog) on his way to soccer practice.  Never in his wildest dreams did he think that one day he would buy that house and turn it into a restaurant and a guesthouse.

Bo-Kaap Kombuis originally started out as coffee shop. Yusuf’s wife, Nazli, had visions of people sitting and reading the newspaper over a steaming cup of coffee whilst nibbling on cakes from the Italian cake stand. This went well until eventually people started saying that there was only so much cake they could eat! So they went on to make toasted sandwiches and tramezzinis. Then Butter Chicken made its way onto the menu. The rest, as they say, is history and for seven years the Bo-kaap Kombuis has been a thriving restaurant loved by the locals, their friends and tourists.

Yusuf and Nazli are incredibly warm and welcoming. Nazli is almost motherly with a quick smile and laugh, whilst Yusuf quietly goes about making sure his guests are comfortable and happy. Having been born and raised in the area he knows much about the history of this colourful quarter and is only too happy to sit down and tell you all about it whilst his wife sees to matters in the kitchen. There are family photos on the wall along with works by local artists making it all quite homely and comfortable. You almost feel as if you are sitting and enjoying a meal in the company of good friends or family. Which essentially you are, as it is a family-run affair, with mom in the kitchen, dad telling you stories, whilst their son is your waiter.

The views across the city and onto Table Mountain are impressive indeed and because of this, Yusuf designed the restaurant to capture the view which patrons can savour whilst they savour their meal. In fact, Yusuf, being quite creative, not only designed the restaurant, but made all the tables and cupboards too.

Whilst Nazli prepared our savoury platter for starters (samoosas, spring rolls and dalchies), Yusuf helped us decide what to have as our main course. He’s insistent that everyone orders their main meal at the same time so the dishes are ready for everyone to eat together. Whilst we were making our (somewhat difficult) decisions, he told us that all dishes are tested on friends and family and only once their approval is met, the dishes go onto the menu. As we know, family and friends can be our worst critics so every dish must have met some fairly high standards!

We eventually settled on the Butter Chicken, a Butterbean Curry with lamb and their speciality, Denningvleis (a very traditional Malay meal). All were lip-smacking and roti-dipping delicious, but the Denningvleis was the sure winner. Nazli is very proud of this dish and she should be! Tender pieces of lamb which have been marinated in citrus, cardamom and aniseed are served with mash potato, steamed vegetables, rice and salad. On hindsight I probably should have got the recipe, but I have a feeling it could be a well-kept secret! We finished off our meal with Traditional Bo-Kaap koesiesters, which are quite different to the Afrikaans-style koeksisters that most of us know. These are more like a doughnut with sprinklings of coconut and they go very well with tea! They are also a lot less sticky! Yusuf told us that koesiesters are traditionally served in Malay homes for breakfast on a Sunday. We quickly invited ourselves to breakfast on Sunday!

I daresay if we did pitch up on a Sunday for koesiesters and tea, the Larrney family would welcome us with open arms and a hug like the one they gave us when we left. We left as friends and with full tummies. I reckon we will be back at the Bo-Kaap Kombuis faster than you can say “tea and koesiesters please”.

Bo-Kaap Kombuis opening times

Tuesday – Thursday 08h00-22h30
Friday – Saturday 08h00-23h00
Sunday 09h00-15h00
Closed on Monday

Prices at Bo-Kaap Kombuis

Breakfasts from R48, tramezzini’s from R30, main meals from R49 and desserts from R15.

A sampling of what you’ll find on the menu at Bo-Kaap Kombuis

Savoury platter starter (samoosas, spring rolls, dalchies and a samoosa-dip) R25
Kombuis special breakfast (eggs, sausages, braised onions, tomato, peppers) R48
Masala steak and egg tramezzini R46
Traditional Malay bobotie R69
Butter bean curry (lamb or vegetarian) R69
Butter chicken R75
Denningvleis R75
Crayfish curry R95
Traditional Bo-Kaap koesiesters (4) R25
Traditional Artepil Porring (potato pudding) R25
Ice cream and chocolate sauce R18

Beverages at Bo-Kaap Kombuis

This is a Muslim restaurant so no alcohol is served. I can recommend the Traditional Bashew Ginger Beer! Otherwise you will find a selection of teas and coffees, smoothies, milkshakes and sodas.

Contact Bo-Kaap Kombuis

Tel 021-422-5446, email [email protected],

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