A couple of years ago I lived in a little village called Usaka at the edge of Akwa Ibom, South East Nigeria. This village was next to the largest palm oil plantation in West Africa. The nearest electricity was 4 hours away and most of the villagers worked at the plantation.
One night we sat drinking Gulder Lager in the ruins of what used to be a high school classroom. It was here that the villagers told me a simple folktale…
Once, there was a brilliant hunter who provided ample food for the village and, of course, everyone loved him. But one season he couldn’t bring any meat home. The elements were working against him. But he kept trying. While tracking antelope, he stumbled upon a lion crying under a tree. The hunter approached cautiously and saw that there was a big thorn stuck in the lion’s paw. The hunter took pity upon the lion and carefully removed the thorn. A couple of days later, the hunter came across a herd of antelope but he, once again, couldn’t bring down a single one. From out of the bush, suddenly appeared the lion with an enormous antelope in his jaws. This he lay at the feet of the hunter. The villagers feasted on the delicious meat and from that day the spell was broken and the hunter could, yet again, provide ample food for the village.
With this story about food, feeding and renewed abundance, I’d like to introduce you to the newcomer on the African cuisine culinary scene. Asanka opened its doors in mid Feb 2017 to much anticipation. The two executive chefs have crafted a menu that provides an interesting take on some of the dishes the continent has to offer. The idea was to take recipes from north, east and west Africa and give them a fine dining twist.
Well, let me mention a few of my personal Afro-fusion favourites. On the starter menu, the oxtail ravioli is by far the most interesting dish I’ve had in a while. The pasta is homemade and then stuffed with slow-cooked, shredded and tender oxtail. Another winner is the aniseed poached pear which is drenched in Gorgonzola cream and caramelised yogurt.
For mains, the Moroccan spiced lamb loin is delicious. It is served with apricots, cauliflower mousse and soy marinated parsnips. My companion had the harissa brisket which is served with charred spring onion, potato chips and celeriac puree.
The coup de grâce was the dark chocolate desert. The entire menu is well thought-through and offers something to satisfy virtually all preferences. And of course, no fine dining is complete without a varied wine list.
Asanka has a bar with a massive patio which sports long couches and comfy chairs on which to enjoy a drink from their extensive bar, which serves some awesome cocktails. And the service is of the highest standard. I was welcomed with open arms and each of the three waiters that I dealt with were brilliant.
So, what’s the story about the lion and the hunter have to do with Asanka? Well, Asanka is the lion bringing the goodness of African food back to the people. No standing ovation for the lame analogy, I know…
Have you been to Asanka yet? What do you think of this awesome twist on African food? Also, share this on social media and go have lunch there with friends.