So here’s an insider’s tip and directions to one of our favourite local Swazi restaurants Mdzimba View Shis’nyama. Shis’nyama is a siswati term for roasting meat – and establishments of this nature range from roadside braai or barbeque stands, to rough drinking holes, and as in this case to pretty sophisticated outdoor restaurants. Mdzimba View Shis’nyama is one of the best places to have a proper Swazi inspired meal. The restaurant is situated in Swaziland’s Ezulwini Valley, but its so “local” that it doesn’t even have a sign outside. Make sure you take note of our directions below – or you’ll never find it.
The restaurant itself is open Wednesday to Sunday for both lunch and dinner. It does not open until about midday – 12h00. Its a fully licensed venue with a well stocked bar and its set-up to satisfy the tastes of its predominantly local patrons. There are a few big screen TV’s in the covered area near the bar, either belting out some popular local music videos or showing soccer – certainly the most popular local sport viewership. Whilst it is a licensed venue they are relaxed about patronage from families and on most days when we’ve visited (which is often) there is a friendly and cosmopolitan crowd that is certainly more family-friendly than you’d find at a less distinguished shebeen or drinking tavern – so feel free to visit as a family. Sunday is often the most popular day, with a substantial turnout from young local professionals and music lovers.
Apart from the covered area near the bar, the venue is mostly open with green grass lawns and bench tables dotted here and there. It’s an enclosed and walled in area, which blocks out the immediate neighbourhood, the MR3 highway and the Satellite Police Station, but allows unrestricted views of the Mdzimba Mountain range, which towers above the Ezulwini Valley. This is obviously the background to the restaurant’s name… and what a beautiful backdrop it is.
The restaurant is well-serviced with clean toilet facilities, and there is also a swimming pool that can keep kids entertained on a hot day. When the the place is busy with summer fever the local ladies in bikini tops will also keep most red-blooded men entertained as well.
Swazi food – eating the local Swazi way
Swazi cuisine is pretty simple. We like “meat and pap”, and “meat and pap” and on occasions “meat and pap”. Pap is a stodgy white maize-meal porridge. Maize = Mielie = Corn. Its delicious and very filling. Whilst there are a variety of options on the menu, we normally order a 3-meat, 4-meat or 5-meat platter, shared between 2 or 3 persons. You can choose which meats to have. Platters typically come with “pap”, a spicy bean relish and a green salad. Meat includes chicken, wors, steak, chops and typically braai’d (barbequed) and served in small chopped up slivers – ideal for eating with your fingers. They do serve pork, so obviously ask them to avoid pork on your platter if you are halaal or kosher in your eating preferences. Another favourite of ours is “Swazi Prawns” otherwise known as emathumbu – order a bowl as a starter to share amongst friends – it’s a great way to kick off your Swazi eating experience.
We prefer to eat Swazi-style with hands, but feel free to ask for knives and forks if you want… they do have them. Your waitress will come round to your table both before and after with a small bowl of water, soap and a towel such that you can clean your hands. So if you are salivating at this point then here are the all important directions on how to get there.
Directions to Mdzimba View Shis’nyama Restaurant and Bar
Turn-off the MR103 (main road through Ezulwini) at the Corner Plaza Shopping Centre. Continue past the Shopping Centre and Cashbuild, which is on your right, travelling in the direction of the MR3 highway.
Just before you reach the MR3 highway you will pass a big telecomms satellite dish on your left. There are two small properties after this, then immediately before a face brick bus shelter turn left into the parking area of Mdzimba View Shis’nyama. If you reach the small Police Post, or the highway itself… then you’ve gone too far. The venue itself is not sign-posted… the owner appears to like keeping it a secret.
There is a pretty forbidding looking entrance to the restaurant via some security gates… but relax, as you enter you will see that on the inside… it’s simply great. And sssshhh – keep it secret: so that it remains a special eating and gathering place for only the best type of experiential travellers.