African food? A friend suggests.
The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
..but not before including “bugs” under the description of what exactly comprises African food.
Despite this politically incorrect statement, the rest of my companions are (for the most part) open-minded about trying new cuisines, and it was with an anxious trepidation that we made the ten minute bus ride to Newtown to try African Feeling Cafe & Restaurant.
The five of us spent well over half an hour poring over the menu, looking at the exotic things we could try …seeing as none of us had ever tried African food before. So drinks were to begin with …
Karkadeh (hibiscus fusion & guava) – $4
hibiscus juice is combined with exotic guava fruit to make this tropical drink refreshing
We actually ordered the karkadeh (hibiscus fusion) and the karkadeh (hibiscus fusion & guava). Karkadeh is meant to be a traditional Egyptian drink made from the Hibiscus flower – popular in Africa, from Senegal to Egypt – and “addictively healthy”.
The makers of Ribena should rename their syrup line to “Karkadeh”, because that’s exactly what karkadeh tasted like – Ribena syrup with zero water. The karkadeh and guava tasted slightly better – definitely not as sweet – with a hint of guava, and although as a sugar addict I did enjoy the karkadeh (more so than the karkadeh and guava), I can’t imagine many people willingly drinking Ribena syrup.
Taste Bud Safari for 2 – $15.50
A personalised selection of any 3 African delights above ..
of which we chose:
Pepele – $10.50 plantain chips – seasonal (nigeria)
Kpoff-kpoff – $10
African cigar – $10 (smoked in Cuba, eaten in Africa) Sauteed beef minced and ground with herbs and spices wrapped in a light pastry (4pcs)
We actually ordered a Taste Bud Safari for 2, which was upgraded to a TBS for 5 ..but unfortunately the waitress didn’t inform us of the price increase. Nevertheless, we did “enjoy” the pepele (which tasted like hard apple chips), the kpoff kpoff (the spring roll lookalikes where spring rolls taste a lot better), and the African cigar (which wasn’t bad – but that might just have been in comparison to the rest of the meal).
Vegetarian Jungle – combination of any 3 of the above vegetarian dishes – $20.50
Galkora (eggplant in a sumptuous sauce – ghana) – $16.50
Egwein – exotic sauce of black-eye beans cooked with palm oil, tomatoes and seasonal vegetables – $16.50
Pumpkin stew – pumpkin cooked in onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and mixed vegetables (west africa) $16.50
To be able to try a selection of all three vegetarian dishes for the cheap price of $20.50 would have been a steal – if not for the size of the plate. The galkora wasn’t bad – I do like eggplant, although the ratio of eggplant and sauce did leave little to be desired. The pumpkin stew was also relatively tasty, and although I’m not a fan of black-eye beans, the egwein was pretty good, and I suppose I wouldn’t mind eating this dish again.
Kuku Na Nazi – $18.50
chicken breast seasoned in herbs & Kenyan spices cooked in coconut milk (East Africa)
For the amazingly CHEAP price of $18.50, we received a soup bowl filled with about six pieces of chicken and soaked in coconut milk. For some reason, I thought the sauce would be a lot creamier, but it would have been more appropriate to call it coconut skim milk (nothing short of water). The chicken itself wasn’t bad, but I must say we were all really surprised at the size of the dishes – for almost $20, I’d expect a bowl that would maybe cover the palm of my hand.
Almond Beef – $18.50
Based on the traditional Egusi soup. This favourite from West Africa contains diced beef cooked in Spinach with palm oil and ground almond meal (West africa)
Apologies for the terrible quality of the photo – but you’re really not missing much. To be fair, this dish didn’t taste terribly bad at all ! The beef was in shredded pieces, but aside from that, it was flavoursome, and went quite nicely (or would have gone – if we had got it) with the rice. Again, I think our disappointment was just at the serving sizes, and the exorbitant prices charged.
Dalak Prawns – $24
Prawns seasoned and cooked in coconut cream (East Africa)
Although the prawns were nice and chunky, I wouldn’t say they warranted their cost of nearly five dollars apiece. As for their being “seasoned”, the dish was extremely salty, and I couldn’t tell what made the difference between the prawns bathed in coconut “cream” and the aforementioned chicken drowned in coconut “milk” – both had the same viscosity akin to water.
Bua – Tender goat meat cooked with palm oil in a spinach sauce (Ghana) – $21.50
Again – feeling a little rorted having paid over $20 for a soup bowl! The goat meat was very soft and tender – possibly to the point of turning into mush – and I’d say the description of spinach sauce was v. accurate.
Fufu, Ugali, Pap, Sadza, and Sima – $8 per head
This stable food is found all over Sub-Saharan Africa and is known by a variety of different names. Ground cereal, steamed or boiled, and served as a ball and can be eaten by hand!
After our proclamations of trying new things, we decided to forego the usual rice and try “fufu”, an apparently very popular African staple. At eight dollars per head, and after already ordering six dishes (and not knowing that each dish would be the size of my fist), we thought that we should only get enough servings for three people. Little did we know that we would receive a lump of clay the size (and taste) of a soccer ball.
We didn’t even get a quarter of the way through that mini mountain of dough, with Grace even making a play-doh-esque mountain of food afterwards.
To be honest, I would definitely have to say that this restaurant is a perfect case of sounding way better than it actually looks. They always say don’t judge a book by its cover – but we shouldn’t judge it by its words, either. The people at African Feeling clearly have a brilliant marketing team because their food sounded really delicious, but its taste left little to be desired.
I’m always up for trying new things, and I might even be open to trying African again ….but probably not for a very, very long time.
The tip jar
Would it be terrible of me to say that the only time I would ever come back is if I was feeling tipsy (or to be more accurate, completely inebriated)?
As for the size of the dishes ….
Pictures speak louder than words. The snapshot above came to almost $200 between 5 people. Worth it? I think not.
African Feeling Cafe & Resturant (visited 07/01/10)
1/501 King St
Ph: (02) 9516 3130