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.
Ocean Basket has locations in Dubai and Doha. I had dinner at the location in the Villaggio Mall in Doha last year. There is also one at the Mall of Qatar.
Given the price point (ie, reasonable), I was very impressed. I agree that the halloumi cheese is excellent. I also had the prawns which were also very good, though I can’t remember exactly how they were prepared. The service was fast and efficient and very friendly – it had a laid-back American vibe to it that I enjoyed.
I could see how they might not excel at more complex preparations, but for the basics I thought it was great value.
Honestly your meal (grilled whole fish, greek salad, fries) looks much superior than a standard fish and chips order. Whole grilled fish is one of the best and healthiest meals available. I go to one of my favorite restaurants and order whole branzino, daurade, or sea bass every couple of weeks.
I certainly ordered this because I thought it would be far healthier than fish and chips. I need to learn how to better de-bone fish. I love ordering sea bass too… especially when the branzino is covered in salt…but at those places the bone will be removed before it is served.
What do you mean by the fish tasted “Fishy”?
Fair question. I guess I just mean a very strong “fishy” smell (like you might smell if you are on a fishing vessel). I prefer my fish more mild.
Yes, l agree fish does not have to smell too ‘fishy’ after it’s prepared.
It is a tragedy that most Americans never learned what good food is and cannot appreciate it, and they go abroad and eat McDonalds and pizzas, missing out probably on the best part of travel.
Sure, but what does that have to do with this?
Just an opportunity for self-reflection for everybody, that’s all…:p
We ate at the Ocean Basket in Jeddah Saudi Arabia a couple of months ago, I didn’t realize it was such a big chain. We wanted fish since we were on the Red Sea coast, this was fine though we should have stuck with a shawarma instead
The fish looks good (don’t mind “fishiness” sometimes), but my Asian sensibilities would prefer that fish to be paired with rice and soy sauce instead of fries (or any potato)
I find this really interesting, even though we have no plans to visit South America. We are, however, leaving next week on a trip to Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava. So, with apologies for veering off course, I would be interested in learning about good restaurant chains in central Europe. Thank you and again, sorry for the intrusion.
Do you know the difference between South AFRICA and South AMERICA?
Yes, I know the difference and I humbly apologize for my careless mistake — you miserable scold.
We ate at the Sea Point location in Cape Town last year. I wanted to eat something that I couldn’t get in the States and ordered Kingklip. It was delicious. It is kind of an eel-fish combination that is only found in the waters off of SA. I would highly recommend it if you go back someone.
Always get the platters. Those are the best value, especially if you have someone to share with.
That looks like a proper Greek salad? Greek salad doesn’t include lettuce, it’s to,stors, cucumber, olives and feta.
The best thing at Ocean Basket is the grilled (not fried) calamari – they do it kinda Asian-style, cross-hatched, not in rings – and the fish of the day (Yes, Kingklip is wonderful!). Prices are very reasonable. I’ve been going there for years, whenever I visit the Homeland. It’s crazy to Americans how careful South Africans are to deter crime, but I guarantee you that the siege mentality is very much a way of life. I used to look over my shoulder when I first moved here, and was told, gently but firmly, “this is not South Africa, you are safe here”.
Thoroughly enjoying OB
but Fish Tail, Head & Fins left on NO, NO NO
Fish that tastes like …., fish. shame you poor sole! ( pin intended) What did you expect it to taste like? chocolate maybe?
Not so strong.
I can relate as someone that is completely put off by bones but it is then on you to order fish with less bones, the thought of someone else deboning the fish diesnt sit right with me because i nevervfeel confident that all bones are gone so i eat fish cautiously anyway, your best bet order kingklip easy to eat around big bone and u can orser it grilled no batter if that helps u feel healthier
Ocean Basket excels at platters. We generally choose a platter for 1 each. It has mussels in a delicious sauce, grilled prawns, grilled calamari, tentacles and a piece of grilled fish. Served with rice or chips or a bit of both. Great value for money and usually delicious. That would be my recommendation for any future visits.
Gauteng is the province, which is the equivalent of an American state. Johannesburg is the largest city in Gauteng. How were you “in Gauteng on the outskirts of Johannesburg”?
The same way I’d say “in California on the outskirts of Los Angeles.” What I wrote is 100% correct…I’m well aware Gauteng is the province.
Same with the “state” comment. Very odd.
No, it isn’t odd. America isn’t the bar for how the entire world is legislated. You also don’t have a monopoly on the English language, so “splaining” to locals how we use English words where we also speak it is just lacking in humility. I wouldn’t come to your country and just decide to apply my norms and use my platform to do so. I’d try and learn something when corrected. Suburbs are not comparable to whatever you are going to equate Randburg as being equivalent to in your country. It’s not the correct terminology. You don’t have to change it, but it doesn’t make you correct. You didn’t state nation-state. And you made it appear like you got Gauteng and Johannesburg conflated. As a writer, one would think clarity is at least one objective of your posting. Perhaps it’s not.
I’m always open to correction, especially when warranted, but it is interesting that the 14,300 others who read this post were not confused. If anything, using “state” for “nation” would confuse Americans…it should not confuse South Africans, who don’t even use that terminology to define their provinces. Google “state” and what do you find? Also, Randburg is part of the City of Johannesburg, so I’m at a total loss for your confusion when I said “one of its Johannesburg locations (Randburg)…”
Is anyone else confused besides Gloria? I’m really not understanding her point and I’m not trying to be a jerk.
No, I’m not odd, Matt. America isn’t the bar for how the entire world is legislated. You also don’t have a monopoly on the English language, so “splaining” to locals how we use English words where we also speak it is just lacking in humility. I wouldn’t come to your country and just decide to apply my norms and use my platform to do so. I’d try and learn something when corrected. Suburbs are not comparable to whatever you are going to equate Randburg as being equivalent to in The US. How you phrased it is not common at all and is not the correct terminology, especially because you didn’t state nation-state until called up on it. And then you conflated Gauteng and Johannesburg. You don’t have to change it, but it doesn’t make you correct. As a writer, one would think clarity is at least one objective of your posting. Perhaps it’s not.
Also, “Ocean Basket is also in several African COUNTRIES” not states. Africa is a continent not a single country. There are 54 different COUNTRIES in Africa. For an alleged avid traveller, these things should be basic.
Gloria, I’m not sure if we speak the same language, but “state” is a very common way to refer to a nation (i.e. the nation-state).
Countries = Nations = States
Yes, states can also refer to provinces in some jurisdictions.
You did not write that in the first instance, though. And not being able to identify Randburg as a suburb within the city of Johannesburg in the province of Gauteng also proves my point that you probably didn’t mean that. It is not common at all to refer to countries as states (when you mean a nation state), and you have never referred to the state of Denmark, for example, on your blog before today. What’s more common is Americans lumping the entire continent as one, even though that isn’t done with Europe, Asia or America.
Who lumped the entire continent into one? Unlike most Africans (or Americans), I’ve actually traveled all over the continent. Across the Arab region in the North, along the West Coast, through Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya…and all the southern states (oh sorry, countries) except Mozambique.
I don’t understand why you are making a petty snipe at Americans – so silly.
Ocean Basket must be my favorite eatery. In 25 years i might have been dissipointed twice…..i stay on the wild coast of SA and theres really a few seafood restaurants that makes good seafood..always funny to stay right next to the sea and struggling to get nice fresh fish to eat
There hake and chips are divine also the grilled calamary and chips. Always ask for more lemon butter over your dish.
The best part of this article is actually the comments below. People get really worked up. Chill out a little bit
I live in Vereeniging, a city in the extreme south of Gauteng. We have an Ocean Basket in Three Rivers East, one of the Eastern suburbs. The ordinary hake and chips is delicious but their butter fish is superb!
For those not knowing what this bloke meant by his food smelling fishy, I thinks it’s this:
Since there is no sea for the fish to have swum in to Joburg, to be captured, it traveled on the back of a bakkie covered in a wet hessian sack, much like snoek which are left to marinate on a hot summers day in and around Cape Town.
Now those snoek smell fishy, both literally and figuratively.
Something must have went awry…you must have been shopping under the linefish category, especially seeing that you got a whole, deboned and highly oily fish. Next time lean on the understanding of your waiter.
Hake and chips is what it’s called here but you hadn’t known. So, when in Rome vibes. Lastly don’t ask to go to a fish restaurant and not know the type of fish you getting. If it’s an oily fish it’s bound to be more aromatic.
Looks like that Greek salad needs some trimming of that onion. Look’s like it’s can wedge my door.