Staying at The Oyster Box Hotel (rated the best hotel in Africa) came with a few priveleges. Not only the ocean view from the private bedroom balcony, the complementary champagne and chocolate strawberries, nor the congratulatory balloon and rose petals during the evening turn. Our deal included some (good) sushi and a glass of wine, and that's where we first found The Ocean Terrace. It is essentially the main eating area for the hotel, and even though there is an oyster bar and a high tea section, you can enjoy those meals on the terrace also.
I had read about the famous curry buffet in Umhlanga and fortune would have it that it is hosted at The Ocean Terrace itself also. Given the evening (and potential threat of mosquitoes), we opted to sit inside for the night.
After flying early that morning, having a small sushi lunch but also lots of wine/champagne, strawberries, I had to maintain some stomach for the buffet and that meant eating nice and late at 8.30pm. The deal is simple - R450 for all the curry your heart, stomach and bowels can handle and ended with a dessert.
There’s many staff wrapping samosas, ready to reheat your naan and roti and replacing the curries all evening. It is an exercise in 5* hotel in action.
But now to the food...
Tandoori chicken was disappointing and dry. Beef shish was ok spiced but similarly dry. They had both probably been sitting too long. Spinach and cheese samosa was ok, but nothing special. I wasn’t quite sure what the chilli bite was, but it wasn’t that chilli and not that good. In fact the only good thing from my entrees plate for the chicken pilau – much heavier, wetter and darker than a biryani but with some good spiced flavour.
Next was onto the curries, which had to be better since it’s a curry buffet. I didn’t try the veg korma nor dhal because I can’t imagine that would be different to elsewhere and I needed to save stomach place.
From clockwise around the plate, we had garlic naan (ok texture, garlic was there but not very strong), roti (actually very good), potato pea mushroom (standard), fish curry (very nice version strong in flavour and cooked down until not too firm), lentils (standard), chicken and prawn (a mild creamy style with nice tasting but one prawn was good texturally and the other was mushy), butter chicken (a nice simple version rich with tomato), beef vindaloo (brilliant and cooked deep until the chilli and spices had some serious burn), butter bean (standard), lamb (very lamby but really not much spice. Quite disappointing).
I went back for another serve of the fish, butter chicken and vindaloo. The vindaloo was remarkably good and if I had the stomach space, could handle even more fire and burn, then I would have had a third one.
Dessert included kulfi with crushed nuts (ok, a bit sweet), a vermicelli pudding (even more sweet), and gulab jamon (didn’t try it, they said it is even sweeter and cooked with rose water and syrup).
Overall it’s quite expensive for curry but you are paying for the variety and setting.