¡Ask a Comida Critic!: South African Restaurants in OC?
I was in South Africa during the [FIFA World] Cup and fell in love with biltong. Is there any restaurant I can get them in around here? Or just South African food in general?
Biltong, of course, is the delicious, dried/cured meat of the Afrikaners, gnarled and smoky, chewy and flavored any number of ways, from any number of meats. Unfortunately, no restaurant that I know of in Orange County sells it. Mozambique in Laguna Beach, while ultimately more of a meat market of the sexual kind, does offer quite a few South African dishes--but not biltong. Springbok in Long Beach is a straightforward South African sports bar, with a great run of boerewor (sausages) dishes and South African curries--but no biltong.
Don't fear, though, Lance: South County is actually the most likely place in Southern California where you can find biltong.
Over the past 15 years, thousands of South Africans have migrated to Orange County, mostly settling around Irvine. Their numbers are such that Wholesome Choice in Irvine, over the past couple of years, has expanded their South African products to the point where they occupy nearly an aisle, from Cadbury chocolates to Indian spices geared toward the South African palate (milder than its subcontinental relatives), and, yes, biltong.
But the heart of South African food in Southern California is Laguna Niguel--say what? Yep. Here is where you can find African Hut, a small shop in an industrial park stocking everything from wines to biltong, freezer-kept boerewors and other items that will make the expat drool. The least of the Lagunas also is the base for The Biltong Guy, a guy named Larry who makes his own biltong and boerwors and sells them to different stories. Follow-up post to come on him...but in the meanwhile, go visit African Hut!
African Hut, 27601 Forbes Rd., #20 Laguna Niguel, (949) 582-9546; www.africanhut.com
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