We’re licking our fingers and calling for seconds at this South African import that takes barbecue and braai to a whole other level!
If you’ve ever met a barbecue aficionado, you’ll know they’re a special breed of foodie.
Chances are they’ve got their own wood-smoker working over-time in the backyard, they like to stuff their own sausages, and guard the family recipe for the ultimate dry-rub like it was a state secret. These people are our tribe.
For all its social and cultural significance – from the gaucho heritage of Brazil, to the mighty braais of South Africa, the hibachi grill culture of Japan’s street food, and the low ‘n slow American southern barbecue – there’s something intrinsically primal about eating a saucy rack of ribs or a mess of wings with your hands. It’s a pleasure that is both primal and delicious.
Vegetarians and vegans? Read on at your own risk.
So, it was with great expectations that we headed to RocoMamas in Shatti Al Qurum one lazy Friday afternoon to get our rib-on.
Our first time at the restaurant, it was. It wasn’t, however, our first time hearing about the place – its name having been mentioned more than once by friends.
Located in the Al Shatti Plaza complex, the restaurant, with its boldly brash orange and black colour palette, makes its presence felt by standing cheek-by-jowl amid a row of local startup eateries next to the Shatti VOX Cinema.
Given the complex’s fanfare of foodie options, it’s surprisingly lacking in foot traffic for a weekend afternoon, and we reckon RocoMamas’ new soon-to-open outlet in the City Centre Muscat Mall will do a sight better turnover – and rightly so!
This Shatti location surprised us with one of the choicest meals we’ve had recently while dining out – and certainly some of the city’s best braai!
Entering the restaurant, it has all the feel of a big box franchise with a sports/wing-bar feel – exposed brick walls, graffiti-style art décor, simple bench booths, and brightly-painted aluminium chairs.
Elevating the aesthetic are raw wood elements, and delicate bird-cage-style hanging lamps. There’s also an open-plan kitchen that allows diners to see their food being prepared. A good sign we say, as we value transparency.
The lunch-time crowd nowhere to be found, we’re the only diners on the premises and take our pick of the virtually empty restaurant. It’s a shame, because what’s to come should have the crowds lining up outside the door.
Hailing from South Africa, the brand is known for its food with attitude – its juicy hand-crafted ‘smashburgers’, freakish milkshakes, turbo-charged fries and, of course, their lip-smacking, finger-lickin’ racks of ribs.
We start with a half-rack order of their famous beef ribs, smothered in their very own Flavour X sauce – a mixture of classic barbecue and punchy peri-peri. Served with a side of crispy hand-cut fries they are fall-of-the-bone, slow-cooked perfection with the perfect balance of smokey sweetness and a kick of spice. We’d go back just for another plate of these.
We follow up the ribs with a sharing platter of their buffalo hot wings, served sizzling in a skillet, on-the-bone, and with lashings of their house ranch dressing for dipping. After downing a few we’re glowing from the heat but thankfully, the restaurant provides the eater with disposable gloves to minimise the mess because, let’s face it – there’s no dignified way to down these bad boys. So, it’s all in we go.
Somewhere in this entire fray we realise there’s nary a green leaf or veggie in sight. So we assuage our guilt by ordering the least healthy salad on the menu – their delightfully creamy chicken Caesar. It delivers on all fronts, with a pungent tangy dressing evenly coating each piece of lettuce – no dry, boring, rabbit food here – and tender strips of char-grilled chicken that are fall-apart tender.
Capping off this epic nosh, we go for broke and order up one of their signature limited edition burgers at our waiter’s recommendation – the South Star. It’s a crunchy, spicy, southern fried chicken burger with a sweet chili sauce that knocks it out of the park.
RocoMamas has rocked our world – friendly fast service, clean, bright ambience and a mighty menu that heroes the best of barbecue and braai. Just grab those extra napkins, ‘cause you’ll need ‘em.
Shatti Al Qurum, adjacent to Al Shatti Plaza
Opening hours: 12 noon till 12 midnight, daily
Contact: (+968) 2464-1066
Lunch for two: RO21.95
• 8/10 Service
• 9/10 Food
• 7/10 Ambience
Bold flavours for braai and barbecue-lovers with prices that won’t rake you over the coals.
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