Adventurous palates continually seek out new experiences and more and more establishments are pandering to this growing appetite for innovative dishes.
Asanka is one such restaurant. It offers African cuisine infused with Asian influences. There’s also some experimentation at play, compliments of the young and passionate executive chef.
In case you're wondering, the name is inspired by an epotoyewaa (Ghanaian grinding pot).
The restaurant exudes a comfy and classy ambiance, and the à la carte menu boasts an adequate variety of seafood, red meat and pork.
For an establishment that’s only a few months old, the owners were smart to not overburden the kitchen with a menu that’s too extensive and time-consuming.
I tried out their new winter menu comprising seven courses.
Unsure of what to expect - my exposure to African cuisine is more at a fledgling (albeit gung-ho) stage - I kept an open mind.
The dishes were a mix of pleasantly surprising and inescapably underwhelming.
The Lamb Pansotti - a comforting, crunchy and delicious option - started things off on a flavourful note. It’s a sort of variation of a samoosa.
Next up was the House Smoked Salmon Red-Red. There was a wonderful richness to this dish and the roasted red peppers heightened the spiciness.
The seafood theme continued with the succeeding dish - Bharat Prawn, which was bland. Someone forgot the cardinal ingredient - salt. This dish was basically marinated prawn with Rose Velouté, corn purée and Nori gel. I could taste nothing.
The zesty amuse-bouche at intermezzo, thankfully, enlivened my tastebuds. It was perfectly timed for the Spiced Char Siu Springbok Fillet. The fillet, nestled on a bed of bulgar wheat risotto, was magnifique. It didn’t need the plum purée, which added no value to a perfectly matched combo. The stem of broccoli was left untouched.
The fluffed Jollof Rice, topped with a piece of beef, was a landslide winner for me. The rice was wonderfully seasoned with ginger and paprika contributing to the piquancy of the dish. It was mixed with roasted onion and accompanied by shito purée.
While I was savouring the flavours, the Asanka Eel arrived. I was feeling adventurous, so I gave it a go.
Bad mistake. It felt like I took a bite out of the ocean. And the miso broth, yam noodle and caramelised fennel failed to offer redemption.
The tasting concluded with the White Chocolate Macha. It was an interesting amalgamation of matcha mousse, white chocolate aero, matcha sponge and while chocolate sorbet, which arrived as a melting puddle on my plate.
While those around me polished off this dessert, I couldn't stomach more than two bites; it was sickeningly sweet.
Asanka has the potential to attract an interesting crowd. The presentation could do with some peppering as could one or two of the winter-menu dishes.
That said, I applaud the chef his creativity and for pushing the envelope.