Something Fishy

One of my best seafood experiences in the whole of Namibia, okay, wait, two of my best seafood experiences in Namibia all happened at the coast. One at Walvis Bay, the other at Swakopmund.

Swakopmund is littered with amazing seafood places. The big yellow bus is an iconic sight on the seaside and the town’s many restaurants are guaranteed to give you that authentic Namibian fishy fix.

You’re spoilt for choice. The Jetty 1905, the Tug and Ocean Cellar are all worthy choices, but if you want your mind blown, pop into BlueGrass by the mall. Oh my hat! Royal calamari, epic portions. I’m considering a drive down as I write this in my fishless home.

At Walvis, you also have an abundance of choices as it is generally the home of Namibian fishing. I happened into The Raft as the only patron at an odd dining hour, and I was treated like a king. Nothing beats watching the gentle waves by the lagoon, smelling the ocean and tasting its produce.

I was, however, rather disappointed when I moved inland to areas like Mondesa, where spots like Hafeni Traditional Restaurant, which offers local eats, and Leo’s Kitchen, a kapana-esque grab and go joint, have established their homes.

I did not get fish. For the former, I was thinking, pap, with some kob, kabeljou or angelfish, ombidi and perhaps some oshingali for that added protein boost. Everything else is on the menu, with dried fish (kapenta) the only offering from the oceans.

At Leo’s I was thinking some grilled fish with kapana to go with it, a kasi surf and turf, if you will. Missed opportunities. Consider fish kapana. Imagine the possibilities?

What changed my life, however, was my visit to Dockside Seafood and Grill. I mean, sushi as far as the eye could see, great service and seafood cooked to perfection.

After sitting, with a judgemental air around me akin to a Michelin inspector, I enjoyed a glass of water and then proceeded to place my order. Standard should be 15 minutes for your food, anything above, they are playing with your money and your emotions.

Anyway, the ever-smiling attendant comes to my table and apologises that my meal would be delayed by a further five minutes, as they were awaiting the arrival of the mussels that had to be harvested upon my ordering. You see they don’t keep more produce than they need at any point in time as it loses its edge with each minute out of the water, and frozen seafood, at the coast? I’d rather eat a camel’s ear.

Nothing beats that dedication to freshness, and as I then communicated with the chef thereafter, I did ask and his response was to prepare the best food, you have to be able to access quality ingredients and use them without a moment’s delay. My mussels had not been out of the water for more than 20 minutes! Changed my life.

I guess that’s why I don’t bother with seafood in the capital much. I’ll enjoy my steaks and pork here and my game, I’ll eat when I’m on safari. Granted, there are establishments that solely try to focus on providing a great seafood experience, but I’ve just decided, nope.

Apart from wrong takeaway orders, arrogant staff and just uninspired seafood options on the menu, you tend to order fish with caution. A few hidden gems do exist, though. My favourite of these would have to be SeaSource trading, which offers some great specials and their fish and chips is the truth.

I am guilty, as are most of us, of sometimes running to OK Supermarket for that slap chips and fish combo to hit the right spot after a night of joyous expression and indulgence, and although it is not fine dining and seafood royalty, there is something nostalgic about good ol’ fish and chips.

I believe those spots should be celebrated as they provide a dining experience many of us associate with particular memories, or just the lack of desire to cook at all. The question is would you go to Game, Baines, the Portuguese shop in Suiderhof or the one in Klein Windhoek?

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