Hotel restaurant food is seldom memorable and usually tastes as if everything has been cooked in one big pot, but Grill Jichana is an exception.
Situated in the Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani Hotels on Durban’s Golden Mile, the eatery boasts flame-grilled premium cuts from the best local producers. These are seasoned, infused and flavoured with the tastes of the African East Coast spice route.
The dishes are created with flair, flavoured with fragrant cassia, cardamom, turmeric and other heady spices and prepared using the freshest produce.
These robustly flavoursome and colourful spices complement the grilled meat, fish and chicken dishes and suit the tasteful décor and ambience of the establishment.
The Citizen spoke to the restaurant’s executive sous chef Denbeigh van der Merwe about what goes into creating the atmosphere and succulent dishes that set Grill Jichana apart from a run-of-the-mill hotel restaurant.
Tell us a bit about the name Grill Jichana?
Jichana means “eating good” in Swahili slang, and we embrace the flavours and aromas of cloves, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, turmeric and pepper from the original East Coast of Africa spice route. We always try to live up to our motto of eating good!
How long have you been the executive sous chef at the restaurant?
I have been the executive sous chef heading up the kitchen brigade of Grill Jichana for just over a year now.
I’ve lived and worked in KwaZulu-Natal for quite some time and a couple of years back I was fortunate enough to join the Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani, and I just loved Grill Jichana and its style of cuisine.
How much of the menu did you create?
Over the years the team has created a number of signature dishes which our patrons thoroughly enjoy. I am currently working on a new menu with the complex executive chef Shaun Munro.
What’s the story behind the restaurant’s mouthwatering 20-ingredient Café de Paris butter?
Café de Paris is a favourite of chef Munro’s and he insisted it be featured on the menu. The butter was first seen in the 1940s in the Café de Paris restaurant in Geneva which was then owned by Arthur – François Dumont and remains a speciality of Café de Paris.
The Café de Paris credits the origin of the sauce to Dumont’s father-in-law.
Grill Jichana is not your run-of-the-mill hotel eatery. Was this intentional?
Oh yes, we planned and engineered it to be run and seen as a standalone restaurant within the complex and not a typical hotel dining room.
Explain the enclosed seating area and how that works for private dining and functions?
Our glass-walled cellar has become quite a feature. It can seat up to eight people who dine in this unique space surrounded by top-quality wines while enjoying a specially designed menu.
Your steaks and seafood rival some of the best grill houses. What goes into the selections?
Lots of love! Our steaks have a proper maturation process, precise seasoning and basting over a volcanic rock flame grill. We only serve South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative listed line fish.
What would you say to someone who’s never eaten at Grill Jichana?
It’s a warm, relaxed environment with a friendly and welcoming team, and you will not leave unsatisfied. We pride ourselves on fresh food and bringing out the natural flavours of our dishes.
For reservations at Grill Jichana, call +27-031 -362- 1300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org