At Wandies, notes of foreign currency, business cards of eminent personalities and signatures of tourists adorn the walls. As you walk through the door, the inviting smell of mutton curry fills your nostrils, and provokes your taste buds. The building is an ordinary Soweto house, extended and converted into a restaurant. Inside, three long tables, decorated with bright red, green and blue tablecloths, are set up with chairs upholstered in matching colours. A fish tank and a wine rack complete the dï¿¿r. The tranquil atmosphere of the restaurant offers a retreat from the din outside. For those who seek a touch of the exotic, the establishment serves indigenous cuisine in the form of dumplings, mogodu, ting (soft porridge), pap and umqushu (samp). Meals are in the form of a buffet. The dish includes mutton, lamb, beef or chicken - roasted or cooked. Vegetarians are spoilt for choice, if salads are what they want. There are six on the menu, including coleslaw, French salad, beetroot, potato salad, tuna fish salad and chakalaka - a local hot salad made of tomatoes, baked beans, onion, chillies and green chillies. Wandies has not always been a thriving restaurant patronised by the rich and famous. Wandi Ndaba started operating an illegal shebeen from his house in 1981. Without a licence and with constant fear of police raids, he struggled through the next decade, relying on the loyalty of his regular clientele. In 1991, the restaurant was licensed, ushering in a new, prosperous phase for the joint. Whilst many shebeens stuck to the sale of liquor, Wandi carved a niche for himself by selling prepared food, initially offering fish and t-bone steak to his patrons. With time, the business developed into a proper restaurant, complete with a menu and customer service - appealing to the emergent local middle class. Impressed by the service offered at the venue, regular clients started inviting curious whites, mainly their colleagues from work who wanted some township experience. Today, the restaurant has become one of the premier tourist attractions of Soweto, with tourists by the busloads streaming in every day of the week and at all hours of the day. The establishment opens seven days a week and operates until about 10pm during week-days. It stays open until the wee hours of the morning over weekends. The restaurant attracts an average of 100 visitors a day.
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618 Makhalemele Street