Over the years during my travel to South Africa, I’ve enjoyed many restaurant chains. Nando’s is still my favorite, but I’ve also enjoyed Mugg & Bean, Spur, Steers, and even Chicken Licken. On my last trip, I had the chance to try Ocean Basket for the first time.
Ocean Basket South Africa – I Ordered The Wong Fish!
Ocean Basket is a seafood restaurant chain with over 140 locations throughout South Africa and now has locations in the Middle East and other African states. A large group of us had lunch at one of its Johannesburg locations (Randburg) on a Sunday afternoon. To be honest, I never even heard of it before we pulled up and cannot recall ever seeing one in the past.
My friend, who dines regularly at Ocean Basket, highly recommended I order the fish and chips, his go-to dish. Wanting to make a healthier choice, I ordered the grilled sea bream. Big mistake. De-boning it was bad enough, but it had a very fishy taste that left me very unsatisfied. I also ordered a Greek salad instead of French Fries and it was just a huge block of feta cheese with raw vegetables underneath, but no oregano and olive oil dressing. I asked for some, but it never arrived (although I was still served chips with my fish).
I will say the halloumi cheese was very satisfying.
However, if I return again I will stick to the safer option and just order fish and chips.
Some general musings. As I said, we were in Gauteng on the outskirts of Johannesburg. We were driving to a lodge we would spend the next several days at and the car was packed full of luggage (my friend did a remarkable job of packing, but it was visibly busting at the seams). We parked the car directly in front of the restaurant. I was told that the risk for carjacking is so high that it was essential to always be able to keep an eye on the car.
Around the table, everyone seemed to have a carjacking or home invasion tale. South Africa is one of my favorite countries in the world, but the crime problem is huge there and I am quite thankful I don’t have to look behind my back when going down my driveway to make sure no one is following me or have 10-foot electrical fences, security gates, and guard dogs at my house.
This is a very complex issue, of course, but it is also quite sobering and the direct account of so many people attests to a very serious problem the people of South Africa must reckon with.
In any case, my first visit to Ocean Basket was a swing and a miss, but it was my fault for ordering the wrong dish.