Recently, a good friend and I discovered Shaka-Zulu Camden, a new £5.5 million investment in the heart of the Camden Stables Market area. We greeted this new discovery with excitement and planned that we would not waste time; an outing to the restaurant was due. The place totally blew us away. Such glitz and glamour and painstaking detail is found in every inch of decor in that place. There is not a single tile that has been installed without texture. When you descend into the restaurant, you are greeted with shell covered walls, millions of them! As you walk through the foyer, you will notice carved wooden tiles with images of Zulu warriors, and oh my gosh, as you near the bar area, there is this mega 14m height statue of an image of Shaka himself. The place is like a shrine to the Zulu warrior, found in the heart of London’s most eclectic neighbourhoods.
The restaurant was opened in September 2010 and is the brainchild of entrepreneur Roger Payne, who is also behind Storm Nightclub, and The Cuban. £5.5 million is no joke; in fact it is a ludicrous amount of money to spend on what some people have described as a distasteful hyperbole of South African culture. But the world’s biggest South African restaurant was a must see for us. The restaurant itself, with capacity to seat 800 people, was quite empty and most of the guests we saw were black people. The restaurant also operates as a club. When we enquired about what Saturday night was like, the staff informed us that they were packed to capacity, with 1000 people in attendance. Not bad if club patrons will each spend £100 at this high end venue, that would be £200,000 just on the weekend. The club’s music was a mix of modern beats, ranging from Lady Gaga, to about 25% Afro beats towards the end of the night. The club is also a destination for local celebs such as Any Whinehouse.
Not long after we had been seated, my friends and I engaged in a heated debate about how well Shaka-Zulu will do in the long term. One criticized that 25% Afro beat at the club is not enough, if the place is to do well. They need to go all the way to offer a completely African experience. This idea was met with a lot of opposition, with one person claiming it would only attract Africans, who would be bad for business. Africans will not spend £100 on drinks for a good night out, plus 1000 Africans in a club would be a disaster, with fights breaking out, only to force closure of the place within a few months. The club needs to provide an atmosphere that will appeal to the masses, and that will be better for business. Having said all that we wanted to say, we all enjoyed very good meals ranging from Springbok to braai’d crayfish and filet steak. The lamb dish seemed to be a winner and the steak is highly recommended.
Have you been to Shaka-Zulu Camden? Would you even go there?