Pretty much a 9/10 folks
There’s no way I could give Asoka Restaurant, Bar & Lounge anything else. It is an eye-catching, taste-bud tingling, stylish, and zen wonderland.
In a cosmopolitan city as vibrant and saturated in history as Cape Town, there is no telling how many low-key galleries, hidden architectural gems, exclusive parties and clandestine lounges & bars, lie unnoticed to the greater majority in the city. As a resident, I know that Cape Town is riddled with cutesy grunge unmarked drinking parlors slinging hardcore beers, gins and cocktails; to sophisticated Japanese, classic Spanish, new-age fusion, and more establishments seasonally peddling their tasting menus from the tourist-heavy cobbled corners of the inner city.
Decor – 9/10
Asoka is less ‘romance’, and more of a bohemian chic restaurant. It’s dining experience should not at all be rushed, but rather savored – as its food’s unadulterated charm demands!
One enters the restaurant and cocktail bar to suspender-clad bartenders and efficient hostesses and waiters clad in black. The nigh Eastern-themed restaurant, bar and cocktail lounge boasts wood-heavy interiors, from: the thick oak bar, to the bamboo sectional partition. The nature-appropriated earthiness of the establishment is actually deeply satisfying to lay eyes on.
Everything inside speaks to Feng shui’s principle of round edges and sensuous curves. All the starkly blended boho textures have a balance in materials, which lends to creating a flowing space circulating positive force. Asoka combines the earth, wind, water, metal and fire elements to alleviate the complexities which the modern world encapsulates us in, and which we trudge through their doors with.
Asoka has a laid back ambiance and commendable Pinterest-worthy architecture, with its bold hues of burnt oranges, browns, and creams affording the restaurant a summer bohemian feel (along with the skylight) – to an otherwise cavernous, dark, indoor space.
…but let’s not focus too much on interior design and decor, when there’s more to the place.
My gastronomic desires were well-met after I was seated right by a Japanese Sitting Bhudda and towering natural tree, in the restaurants center.
Main Food – 8/10
Asoka’s theme seems to veer more true to a traditional Eastern tapas bar, with a food menu which comes close to Catalan. The menu is not so comprehensive so as to overwhelm, but it might just be impossible to conquer it all in a single visit.
My mom and I shared the Chilli & Garlic Prawns with warm bread – It’s a Top 2 favorite thanks to the sheer flavor saturating the prawns right into their shells. I could have a bucket-full of this.
We then partook of Trufflic teryaki beef fillet with roast garlic aioli. This is the other of the Top 2 favorites. I was never a meat connoisseur – beyond chicken – before I began my foodie escapades; But now I am particular about vehemently insisting on succulent tasty meat, and this beef fillet is worthy of praise.
The Crispy duck, corn and ginger puree, and stir fried vegetables made for a nice little morsel, though not too memorable as to go out of your way to come to the restaurant only to eat that.
The Butter chicken curry, with roti, sambal, and raita had the misfortune of being prepared separately – to its detriment – as once one moved passed the curry sauce’s yummy robust taste, you encounter rather bland chicken pieces to nibble on halfheartedly.
The Baby Potatoes, feta cheese, and lime creme fraiche, are a 9/10. Spiced strong and wonderfully enough that I find myself wondering how I can imitate their flavor at home.
Lastly came the Grilled Mushroom Tacos, corn, feta cheese, tomato, avocado, and sour cream – an easy 7/10 for melding the ingredients in a mellow and pleasant way.
I love that these tapas were easy to pick up and devour without too much mess.
Dessert – 8/10
Salted Caramel Cheescake with ginger ice cream. My mother favored it for being surprisingly not too sweet, while it was just sweet enough to have me munching on it as a midnight snack too.
Also, we had the Dark chocolate fondant with strawberry meringue, toasted coconut crumbs, caramel miso ice cream. The dark chocolate was overwhelming – and that’s coming from someone with a sweet-tooth that might give Willy Wonka a profit boner. Nothing is wrong with the dessert should you share it, but mayhaps a smaller size to whole-heartedly enjoy the divine chocolate offering.
Sip on all of the cocktails you guys. They’ve got something for those who want spicy, sweet, strong, or even just something classic to drink. I’m working my way through their menu, and have NO criticisms thus far.
So pretty much drink whatever the hell you want, as the drinks rarely have that cloying fruitiness hitting the back of your throat like a syrupy freight train (How about we use this opportunity to graduate from Red Bull-and-vodka also, yeah?!)
I love the Komodo Dragon which my awesome waitress Rene recommended to me. It’s made with: SKYY Infusions Rasberry Vodka, Cointreau, mixed berries, mango, lemon juice, simple syrup, and topped with apple mint foam.
Next I had the Porn Star Martini…and as you can guess: It’s the alcohol manifestation of my spirit animal 🙂
It’s made of: Absolut Vanilla Vodka, shaken up with fresh passion fruit, passion fruit puree, vanilla sugar, and with a serving of bubbly.
My mum stood steady with a Classic Mojito made just a bit light on the booze, but crisp on the freshness.
In between our bites of food, we were persuaded to try the house shooters and OWMYWORD! Make them as full cocktails you guuuuuuys!
The one we had was a Vanilla Sky cocktail shooter, made with a sweet, sour and creamy sensation of Absolut vanilla vodka, shaken with fresh lemon, pineapple and sugar.
Asoka knows that peoples tummy’s may not always be up to the task of their full dining experience, so in order to make digestion easier, one can order the Dharma Tea made with fresh mint, ginger, cinnamon, lemon and honey. It is second only to Earl Grey – as my favored hot beverage. Even Hot chocolate would be remiss to find fault in the tea I may be convinced is made of unicorn tears.
“It’s not that cheesy, commercialized hipster dining joint. Asoka marries class and chill really well.”
With quite a few small and big tables, and a handful of bar seats, this near Japanese/Spanish gem get’s reasonably full, with members of the public clamoring to get in.
Book a table and come for: a date, business meeting, a catch up session with friends, or dinner when your mom pops into town (that’s what I did).
However, the best reason to go to Asoka, is to get lit – whether to their house music, food, people, or booze. You can celeb spot (they’ve had people like Cassie and Johnny Knoxville dining there) while you bar hop.
*P.S: Ask for Rene when you dine at Asoka. She’s fantastic with her service and recommendations.
As far as first times go, this one was a gentle and sweet introduction to another Kloof Street haunt, that’s one for the books!
ASOKA Restaurant, Bar & Lounge
68 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town, 8005