I always joked about how I’d never have a reason to be seen in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni; Sphiwe Giba unknowingly had other plans for me.
I had never met the 34-year who runs and owns, Wolf and Co Cafe but by the time I walked into his restaurant, I felt like we go way back.
He explains that we shared the same sentiment about Tsakane but he soon came to realise that what he thought was a backward township in the Styx is actually rich with history and like many forgotten places in SA, it played a major role during our political struggle.
The restaurant wasn’t hard to find once I made it through my hour long drive to Tsakane – it’s far guys – pack a snack! The converted shipping container stands out in Ngcobo Street and despite the cold weather that particular afternoon we decided to venture there, we were welcomed with warmth.
After my friend, Tumi and I parked our cars, we were immediately greeted by the Bicycle Stokvel, cyclists who were gathered around imbawula warming themselves after cycling in the rain for 2 hours from Vosloorus. Once we stepped inside the container, I felt as though I’d been transported back to Tottori, Japan with the quintessential golden Maneki-neko beckoning us into the space.
He attributed the Asian influence in both the space and the menu to his history with Asian practices – he did Tai Chi and Kung Fu back in 2013 and was also into dragon boat for training. He also loves Asian dishes and Zen influence and for those of us who miss being in the Orient, the space brings all the elements we miss together quite beautifully.
We tried ordering some warm drinks hoping we’d be sipping on mulled wine or an Irish coffee but Sphiwe explained that Wolf is an alcohol free zone. He made the conscious decision to not have alcohol served in the space explaining that he prefers his patrons to take in the space without any lubrication.
I opted to sip on warm pineapple tea along with Palesa and Dimpho while Tumi had her cappuccino – attributed to a slight caffeine addiction. While the guys had their lunch before heading back on their bikes, I got some time to take in the various aspects of Wolf. We found an entrepreneur working quietly on her Apple Mac while the girls and I filled the space with giggles. I distinctly remember hearing some of my favourite hip hop jams while watching the cyclists change back into the clothes they’d left to dry.
Sphiwe is a lone wolf and he’s taken this aspect of his personality straight into his restaurant – he cooks alone and has no waitressing staff. I was a little averse to the idea but it adds a lovely personal touch when he brings out his meals and tells you what he’s prepared for you that day.
The meals change every time and he only serves them on Friday evenings, as well as Saturday and Sunday afternoons so if you’re like me and get attached to a dish, don’t. He won’t be making it again. I love the element this brings to my dining experience, although I’m sad I missed out on a few dishes he’s already served over the last few weeks before I came for lunch; I have no regrets about the spicy soup the self taught cook served us on Saturday. You can taste the love and passion in each spoonful and I will definitely be back to sample more of his amazing dishes.
While we’re eating he chats to us about how this has been a labour of love for 5 years that he finally made come true in collaboration with J&B Hive. He’d been living in downtown Joburg since his late teens and made his return to Tsakane after his 30th birthday. After looking for the perfect house, buying it, adding the shipping container; he finally built the space to what it is now.
He hopes the space will translate his creative process and energy and will transcend creative boundaries that we sometimes find ourselves hiding behind. The vision is simple: happy faces, full bellies, more dishes, single origin coffee and live performances.