The Sibaya Hotel and Casino – one of the jewels in the Sun International crown, nestled in the lands of the great King Chaka Zulu is home to the restaurant Aqua.
Seated at a table in a massive clam shell shaped alcove I felt like a mermaid, surrounded by cool, watery tones of blue, green and aquamarine. Whole shoals of angelfish are suspended from the ceiling and pristine tubular fish tanks, teaming with tropical fish, form centre stage. This three tiered underwater cove of a restaurant is beautifully illuminated and throughout the evening the light is slowly lowered allowing the fish tanks to glow brighter.
If you are after a complete evening’s entertainment of a la carte fine dining, live music, a whirl around the dance floor, a spin in the casino or a spectacular show, then Aqua should be your restaurant of choice.
Tables boast crisp white linen and are set well apart offering privacy and sparing you the conversations of the tables around you. Lance Moonsamy, the restaurant supervisor is on hand to advise you on their wines and take you into his glass encased inner sanctum – Aqua’s wine cellar. Aqua has an impressive range of vintage South African wines and beautiful champagnes which are incredibly reasonably priced at an average of cost plus VAT!
If you are planning to celebrate a special occasion Lance will dazzle you and your guests as he “sabrages” champagne of your choice out on the spectacular veranda overlooking the warm Indian Ocean under the stars!
Their menu has one leg in Europe and the other in Asia – starters come in at around R40 each and the choice is varied. With authentic Japanese sushi chefs on hand – I was not going to miss the opportunity to share a sushi platter with my husband Riccardo. Sandy the restaurant PR took control of our meal and soon tasting dishes were flowing. This is not your average hotel based restaurant. The food is exceptional.
Our food fiesta started with one of my all-time favourites – a platter of perfectly presented sushi. Aqua’s mezzanine floor has an authentic sushi bar and Teppanyaki tables.
The sushi was followed by Crispy duck marinated over two-days with subtle hints of chilli and garlic. (R55) Outstanding and uber fresh local KwaZulu Natal oysters from Shaka’s Rock with tangy tomato vodka shots followed. The live music was so enjoyable and we revived our appetites with a ‘boogie’ or two. I happily tucked into the a plate of juicy prawns gently flavoured with chilli and a rocket and cherry tomato salad while hubby tackled Sphelele’s Beef Fillet Rossini (R120.00) a joyous succulent South African beef fillet topped with chicken liver pate served on potato rosti with roasted vegetables, Kenyan fine beans and finished with a drizzle of thyme jus.
By this time you can well imagine we were virtually comatose but sure enough out came the last dish – the piece de resistance Jason’s Crayfish Thermidor (R300.00) beautifully prepared and presented. The Thermidor was a joy – created with oyster, shimanji and shitakemushrooms, miso paste, Parmesan cheese.
Wait for it – the evening ended with the Assiette de l’ Aqua ( R120.00) which is Chef’s platter of recommended desserts. A trio of heavenly crème brulees Granadilla, lavender and vanilla flavours with delicate ginger scented shortbread, a creamy and gently quivering pannacotta – and a ‘fantasia’ of ice creams and sorbets.
This is an elegant affair – and the perfect restaurant to celebrate in. Be ready to spend your whole evening slowly enjoy fine food, wine and a little ‘cheek-to-cheek’ with someone special and if I were you – I’d book a room for the night at the beautiful Sibaya Lodge.
Aqua was reviewed by Janice Tripepi - read her SA Blog Award finalist food blog.