Kaai 4 Braai / Mossel Bay Central, Mossel Bay, 6500, South Africa / +27 79 980 3981
My favorite experience of South African food was Kaai 4 Braai. Located in Mossel Bay, near to the Santos Express Train Lodge, it was an unexpected find for us. It wasn’t an easy find, though, because we chose to walk we wound up going through several industrial parking lots, through gated vulcan fences, several dead-ends, until we found Kaai 4 Brai. We had no idea what to expect; all we knew was the place had many recommendations and was celebrated for authentic cuisine.
The restaurant is spectacular! It’s an outdoor dirt-floor space with open walls and many lamps, picnic benches, a bar building, and a big circular cooking pit. In the setting sun, the space and the incandescent light was magical.
We got there early in the cooking time, so we were lucky enough to see the first wood being placed into the pit and the fires lit. It meant we’d have to wait a while, but the staff and visitors made that time go quickly; more about that in a bit.
The Kaai 4 menu is wide, from hot dogs and hamburgers to kebabs and spare ribs and things I’ve never heard of, like Roosterkoek and potbread, though I did figure out what musselpot and braaied hake was.
The staff was amazingly patient with us, explaining all the foods and their significance, as well as the history of the restaurant. Because we were early, and we love hanging around kitchen prep, we got to chat for a long time. Once the fires were hot we got recommendations based on what had ingredients had been delivered. Then we headed over to the pit to watch the cooking.
I got the meat basket and roosterkoek, bread dough balls cooked on the grill.
Carmella chose the braai’d hake — what I call en papillote — with a wee salad.
The food was so primal, so earthy, so delicious! Now I understand why South African expats fondly speak of braai! Equally wonderful was the conversation we had with the staff and the visitors, some of whom were locals, others were Free Staters; everyone’s accents were delightful to hear, and so completely different from each other! South Africans are a self-reliant lot, which comes out in their stories and world-views.
We finished up our evening at Kaai 4 Braai stuffed, so much so that we chose to forgo some off-menu dessert. Kaai is high on my list of places to which I wish I could teleport for an evening, it’s that good.
Next, it’s time to find our Cape Town AirBnB.