Tasty trendy tapas at Asoka

Asoka is definitely one of the most unique restaurants I’ve been to. Located in the upper part of Kloof Street, this Eastern-themed sensation combines taste and sound to create a dining experience like no other.
Tasty trendy tapas at Asoka

Built around one of Cape Town’s oldest olive trees, the restaurant is embellished with candles, Buddhas and romantic lighting, creating a charming ‘dining outside’ feeling when seated in their beautiful courtyard area, while incorporating intoxicating house music (played by their resident DJ) creating an atmosphere that oozes style and sophistication. Judging by the amount of people and absolutely no empty tables, this is definitely a very trendy place to be.

Our lovely waitress, Eunice, explained that the menu is served tapas-style and suggested that we order between three to four ‘meals’ per person (preferably one from each ‘element’) and then share with each other.

Water: seafood

Seared Norwegian salmon

One of my favourite dishes of the night was the seared Norwegian salmon, miso-yaki roasted aubergine, chickpeas, pickled ginger, ponzu mayo. The salmon was cooked to perfection – a little bit pink on the inside, just the way I like it. Served on a beautifully-presented plate, the three portions were divided among the various accompaniments – the most noticeable being the aubergine and the chickpeas which are certainly not the usual suspects that you expect to see on a salmon dish, but were a surprisingly delicious treat.

Grilled calamari, lime crème fraiche and harissa sauce

The grilled calamari was one of my guest’s favourite dishes, and it was a close one for me too. I’ve always been a fan of a good harissa sauce (a Maghrebi hot chilli pepper paste, containing a mix of chilli, peppers, herbs and garlic), and the combination of the sauce and tender calamari was sublime. The freshness of the lime crème fraiche complimented the dish and elevated the mild flavour of the obviously fresh calamari.

Tasty trendy tapas at Asoka
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Tasty trendy tapas at Asoka
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Earth: vegetarian

Baked jalapeño rellenos, goats chèvre, mozzarella, spiced tomato, sour cream and guacamole

The baked jalapeño rellenos are not for the faint hearted! Much like the well-known chilli popper – the chillies are stuffed with cheese (in this case goat’s cheese rather than cream cheese), but these rellenos are not battered and deep-fried, they are unbattered and baked, which for me brought out the sweeter and tangier taste of the chilli. Although they were very spicy, I managed to eat two of them (with tonnes of sour cream and guacamole of course), which proves how good they are!

Truffle polenta chips, tomato and cumin sauce

The truffle polenta chips were the least-enjoyed of the night. The dish sounds great in theory (truffle=delicious anything), but for us, the polenta gave the chips a strange texture and slightly doughy taste (which is expected of polenta), but we were admittedly looking for more of the truffle flavour. The tomato/cumin sauce was yummy though.

Tempura onion rings

Onion rings are an old favourite, and if you can do them right then we are on a good footing. Asoka’s tempura onion rings are a great addition to any meal – we certainly enjoyed ours with all of the other dishes we ordered – and they were especially tasty when dipped into the tomato/cumin sauce from the chips! The tempura coating was crispy and light, giving you that oh-so-satisfying ‘crunch’ when you bite into it, while the onions were sweet and still slightly crunchy – perfection!

Tasty trendy tapas at Asoka

Fire: meat

Truffled teriyaki beef fillet

The all-time favourite meal of the night for both my guest and I was the truffled teriyaki beef fillet with roast garlic aioli (a Mediterranean sauce made of garlic and olive oil). All the flavours just worked and every single bite provided an explosion of deliciousness. For me, it was the teriyaki sauce (a Japanese mixture of soy sauce, sake, ginger, and other flavourings) combined with the amazingly cooked and super tender beef fillet flavour that made the dish something special – something to have again, and again and again.

Tasty trendy tapas at Asoka

Nirvana: dessert

Salted caramel cheese cake, ginger ice cream

The cheesecake is the same as the one they serve at sister restaurant Kloof Street House, with the exception of the ice cream, which is ginger flavoured at Asoka. This is still my favourite dessert and one that I would order over and over. The ice cream is extremely delicious (for someone like me that loves ginger, at least) and it completely wakes your taste buds up without being overly gingery. It’s a great combination with the cheesecake, albeit a slightly strange one.

Dark chocolate fondant, strawberry meringue, toasted coconut crumbs, caramel miso ice cream

The fondant was decadent, fudgy and ultra rich. The centre didn’t ooze the way I was hoping it would, but that didn’t affect the flavour or my enjoyment of the dish. The accompaniments offer a sensory explosion much like the cheesecake dish – the classic chocolate-strawberry combination with the added flavour of coconut and caramel enhancing an age-old classic in a new, ultra-chic and stunningly-plated way.