DID a double take on checking my last write-up on Komba Hari, the pleasing grillroom at Rainbow Towers, convinced â€” for a fleeting second â€” prices hadnâ€™t risen since August.
Clearly impossible in a country where government admits 1 650% inflation and any housewife will assert itâ€™s a least double that.
The figure â€œ350â€ for steak leapt out of the August food and travel page of the ZimInd and my grilled prawns were â€œ350â€ last Tuesday. Difference was the August â€œ350â€ referred to thousands of dollars, eight months later, millions were alluded to!
Still, the meal is pretty attractively priced for a five-star restaurant in a five-star international hotel, as other outlets go.
I didnâ€™t realise that so clearly until trying the much successfully tarted up, but still very workaday blue-collar Moth Club, Braeside, two days later (fully reviewed in this Sundayâ€™s Standard), where an excellent supremely tender, perhaps 300g, sirloin steak, lightly basted in olive oil and garlic and seared so flavours were sealed in the nyama; with memorably good big, golden square cut crispy chips, a grand salad, Melba toast and butter and as wide a range of local and imported condiments as seen anywhere in Zimbabwe was $350 million.
Then they apparently â€œthrew inâ€ pudding, if you wanted it (I, alone, did); soon after, desserts cost $150 million.
Komba Hariâ€™s big leather-padded A4 menus have shrunk in content in the past year as shortages bit deep into all aspects of Zimbabwean life, but starters included trinchado of beef or chicken with crispy roll (meat cubed, marinated in white wine, garlic and rock salt) and fried, at $120 million.
Unfamiliar with â€œbalgogiâ€ tips (â€œmarinated in our secret sauceâ€) and served on a bed of lettuce, as described in the menu, but f&b managers (banqueting) Hugh Mandizha and (restaurants) Wendy Nyoka, said it was another beef starter.
Mis-Googling it as â€œbalogiâ€, I found a woosy bit-part actorâ€™s blog. Spelling it as the RT version I was asked did I mean â€œbulgogiâ€? Probably yes, as it was a Korean sesame-steak dish, also $120 million.
I can eat only so much red meat (very little) in a week and had enjoyed a splendid sufficiency at the previous nightâ€™s farewell bash for Rainbow Tourismâ€™s operations director Dave Church, when a rich rose-red roast and rotund rolls were irresistible.
So my starter was smoked salmon, with a soupÃ§on of salad, and mushrooms marinated in caper sauce at $150 million.
Close your eyes and you are in a modern 5-star hydro hotel, housed in a venerable Victorian-era building, beside a loch or the sea in Angus or Kircardineshire. Ambrosialâ€¦ but Iâ€™d have served tart horseradish sauce to accompany itâ€¦ and thinly sliced brown bread.
Unsure why, but I didnâ€™t try Komba Hariâ€™s succulent crisp salads, at $100 million, nor soup of the day, same cost. Grilled sizzlers: 250g sirloin or rump or 300g T-bone were $280 million and â€œonâ€. Lamb chops, which I would have ordered at the same price, â€œoffâ€.
A Zimbo oddity was tilapia (bream), from Kariba probably, was â€œoffâ€, so couldnâ€™t be wrapped around tiger prawns, which possibly came from Mozambique, but may have been caught in the sea off Thailand, Vietnam or in Honduran or Costa Rican waters! Twelve tigers were $350 million, with Japanese-style noodles and stir-fried vegetables, and were as good as you would find on any landlocked countryâ€™s menus.
I have mainly eaten crustaceans (very freshly caught) in the last year in the UK, Tunisia and Red Sea Riviera resorts of Egypt and Jordan, so Iâ€™m afraid long-dead, de-frosted, formerly frigidly frozen prawns arenâ€™t in the same league.
But they were availableâ€¦and were cooked proficiently. Mains can come also with chips, baked potatoes or rice.
Puddings are now pre-plated, as opposed to the wickedly decadent cornucopia of serve-yourself confection the restaurant was renowned for, but very acceptable at $100 million.
When I ate at RT, a small lager was $100 million. The next day at the Moths one was $26 million, but breweries hiked prices by (yet another) 150% the next day; the Mothsâ€™ tipple became $65 million, leading me to guess lager will now be about $250 million at a five-star hotel?
Komba Hari is part of the theatre of dining out: meals dramatically griddled in front of diners perched on high stools at hollow square arrangements.
Thereâ€™s also a separate Japanese teppanyaki section and strictly halaal operation.
You can however mix-and-match.
Wendy and Hugh had Oriental-looking chicken stir-fries I canâ€™t find on a â€œliberatedâ€ printed menu, but Thai green chicken curry with steamed rice is $400 million.