One of my absolute favourite restaurants in Durban is the Wok Box, and during one of our many dining experiences there, we noticed a new restaurant opening next door. New restaurants always excite my husband, Craig and I, because for a long time we felt like we had no choice but to keep booking at the same old restaurants every time we needed a night off. The industry just didn’t seem to be booming. But it is now. Especially in Mackeurtan Avenue. Good news for Foodies!
It’s called the Green Parrot. Same owners and same kitchen as the Wok Box. Now we’re really interested! What kind of food do they cook? Will they have the same high standards as Wok Box? Will it satisfy an insatiable appetite? They serve Japanese. But not your average Japanese, let me assure you. I’ve never seen the word charcoal appear on any other Japanese restaurant menu. Next restaurant on the “must attend” list – Green Parrot.
So, last Friday night was one of those nights when you’re wondering why you agreed to go out for dinner because you just cannot get out of work mode and feel exhausted before the sun has even set. But after taking our seats for the first time at the Green Parrot, and being welcomed by our very friendly waitress, Thando, we soon relaxed into some bamboo steamed sake. I was really happy we didn’t settle for “Take Out Friday”. And the night only got better.
We followed the sake with some La Capra Merlot. My favourite! Let the weekend begin!
We kicked off our meal with some pot stickers: Minced pork with water chestnut, Asian mushroom and coriander root, in an open wonton wrapper, then lightly fried and served with Kikkoman soy sauce. We supplemented this with shredded crispy duck, seasoned with pickled plum and chilli oil and wrapped in egg wonton wrappers, served with BBQ hoisin sauce. These came with a side of sweet pickled cabbage and carrot slaw. That stuff is addictive! Both dishes had deliciously intense flavours, too complex to even identify one of the ingredients. This medley of sweet, sour, hot, but not too hot, was perfectly complimented by the texture of either a crispy, golden dumpling wrapper or a chewy, slightly charred pastry. A Mouth-watering start!
For mains, the Green Parrot has an extensive menu consisting of teriyaki this and charcoal grilled that. All sounded amazing. But they also have a specials board, which made it even more difficult to make a choice. I had pretty much made my mind up to get one of two dishes off the Specials menu, and Craig was keen on one of those too, so we agreed that he would order the Crispy Pork Belly, and I would order the Tuna & Calamari dish, and we would be kind enough to give each other a few tastes. I was a bit sceptical about my dish as I had never seen seared tuna and calamari combined on a menu before, (plus I make a mean seared tuna so it’s hard to beat that) but boy, was I happy I took a leap of faith.
I asked for my seared tuna to be very pink, and even though it arrived engulfed by a bed of squid and calamari, in danger of overcooking, it was surprisingly charred just the way I like it. Charcoal seared, Japanese five spice tuna, with crispy baby squid tentacles and calamari tubes, atop skinny egg noodles exceeded my expectations! It had just the right amount of flavour to still allow you to taste the freshness and gamey-ness (I know that’s not a word) of the tuna. It was hot, but not the overbearing hot, that addictive kind of hot. The plain but tasty noodles, and more of that coleslaw, balanced the bang of flavour from the five spices so perfectly, soothing my tongue with each mouthful. And for those who love getting their money’s worth, the portion was big enough for me to take some home for lunch the next day – lucky me!
Craig’s dish was also delicious. Crispy pork belly pieces dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried, drizzled with chilli caramel sauce, and tossed in stir-fry veggies with a side of yup, that yummy coleslaw. I don’t know how they managed to keep the pork belly so crispy in that chilli caramel juicy goodness, but whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it right. Nothing worse than looking forward to crackling and getting soggy or leathery fat instead. (First world problems, right?)
I was super stuffed but Craig was keen to order the chocolate lava cake that we tried last time we were at Wok Box. Thankfully you can order from both restaurants irrespective of where you sit. Bonus! But sadly they were sold out so we settled for a Mississippi mud pie. I shouldn’t actually use it’s name and the word “settled” in the same sentence because man, was it decadent! A top layer of double cream and a bottom layer of dense, moist dark chocolate cake, sandwiched a gorgeous layer of chocolate mousse come dark chocolate dessert. Mmmm..mmm..mm.
We didn’t want to leave we were enjoying ourselves so much, but since we were the last customers in the restaurant and the staff were probably itching to get home and watch the RWC semi-finals, we got the bill and quickly got some photos with the mastermind behind our incredible dishes, Chef Vinay and the friendly staff, Thando and Gift. What a lovely bunch of people and what unique, delicious dishes! I can’t wait to go back!
You can check out the Green Parrot at https://www.facebook.com/Green-Parrot-1608663312681510/ Enjoy!