Thursday, November 8, 2018

Kalky's - Kalk Bay, South Africa

Ryan Strauss, our guide in Cape Town, wanted to take us to a fish and chips joint that he went to as a youth. It was right next to the harbor in Kalk Bay, where a few fish vendors were still lined up selling fresh and smoked fish around lunch time. 
Dried snoek.
Drying snoek.
Some of these look like fresh snoek.
We first walked by the fish vendors and I purchased a small piece of dried snoek. Snoek is a long, thin species of snake mackerel found in the southern hemisphere. It is a regional specialty in the southwest coastal areas of South Africa. It is oily and has a very strong and distinctive taste. I am pretty tolerant of strong tastes and this was too much for me. One bite was enough. Smoked snoek is listed as one of 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die  (page 414). 1001 states, "Smoked snoek is a genuine South African national treasure that should have as much Appellation Controlee street cred as prosciutto."  
I bought a small piece of this dried snoek.
We continued on to Kalky's.  It was very informal. Wood tables covered in red table cloths, flags from different countries hanging from the ceiling, brick tile floors and wood walls. Food came out on metal trays. 
Inside Kalky's.
Our guide, Ryan Strauss, who did a great job. 
We shared several dishes to have a variety. First we had snoek and chips. It was not as strong as the dried snoek I had outside, but it was still the most strong tasting breaded and fried fish I've ever tasted. It was also a little over cooked for my taste. Not my favorite and we did not eat it all. However, a look at fish and chips places in the Cape Town vicinity shows that snoek and hake are the main kinds of fish used in fish and chips. 
So naturally, the next dish we ordered was hake and chips. Hake is in the same taxonomic order as cod and haddock. It is mild with a white and flaky texture and also one of the 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die (page 396). 1001 notes that hake "has few small bones and is easy to prepare" and the "flesh's subtle, delicate flavor makes it a successful substitute for any recipes that specify cod or other white fish." The fried hake was better than the snoek, but I still did not love it. It was not particularly moist. We ate more of this than the snoek, but we still did not eat it all.
Hake and chips
Our third dish was crayfish. Crayfish in South Africa is not the river crayfish that we have in the U.S., but a rock lobster or spiny lobster. I believe the crayfish was grilled, cooked a little bit too much, and it had a bit of an "off" taste. I preferred it over both the hoek and the hake, and we ate it all, but I would take a Maine lobster any day. 
Crayfish or spiny lobster
We also ordered onions, and I'm assuming the picture below is fried onion pieces, but don't remember eating them at all. 
They had pickled octopus on the menu which I wanted to order, but unfortunately, they were out. 

Kalky's gets good ratings (#3 of 26 restaurants in Kalk Bay) and listed on regional lists of fish and chips joints, but I was very disappointed by it. There was nothing we had that I really loved and it was a place I'd really looked forward to eating at. 

1 comment:

  1. That dried snoek on the boardwalk, along with several other varieties of dried fish, is a must-see and must-taste for the adventurous eater. Yes, it was a bit strong, but it was very funky to look at and really fun to try it.