Wednesday, October 9, 2013

African Village Kitchen, Dandenong by Big FIl

Mention to anyone in Melbourne that you are going for ‘African’ food and it’s pretty much guaranteed they will think of East African food, and in particular Ethiopian Food.  Ethiopian restaurants have become pretty common particularly in the western and northern sides of town, and North and West African restaurants are almost unknown.  With a Sengalese born but Gambia raised owner African Village Kitchen provides a rare opportunity to sample West African food.

On entering you find yourself in a fairly basic cafe, with a few tables and chairs, drinks cabinets along one wall, a few pieces of African themed art and bain maries at the front.  The menu is listed in chalk on the back wall but unfortunately not every dish is always available and we missed out on the one I most wanted to try, the beef and banana with plaintain and snow peas.

The pastille are a ‘samosa’ like snack available from memory in chicken, fava bean and other varieties (I’ve lost my notes from the day).  While we only ordered three to share a couple of ‘mystery’ pastilles were added by our generous host.  Served with side orders of chutney (one mango, one berry I think) these were nicely done, freshly cooked and crisp shelled without drying the fillings.

To go with our meals we ordered the jolof (tomato flavoured) rice, some cous cous and roti bread.  The injera bread listed on the board wasn’t available on the day but the good roti was of the crisp, flaky variety.  Between the rice and the cous cous I’d recommend the rice, with its long, well separated grains, rather than the cous cous which I found quite bland.


My favourite amongst the mains was the Yassa, chicken in lemon sauce.  Tender chicken served with onion and olives, the lemon sauce was not sweet but quite tangy and acidic, which is pretty much to my taste.

I also enjoyed the Mafe, beef in peanut sauce.  Beef and peanuts is a well trodden flavour combination for many cuisines and here somewhat reminiscent of an Indian korma in taste and texture.

Surprisingly, the other dish which received a lot of praise was the Tamia, ‘fool’ fava beans served with a boiled egg and side salad.  The beans were both full of flavour and retained their firm texture.

We were a little less enamoured of the other mains, the lamb, potato and spinach and the goat curry.  That is a bit of a surprise as I generally just love a goat or lamb curry, and the meat in both dishes was extremely tender.  So why didn’t we particularly like these dishes?  I think that for the goat curry I felt the goat flavours were a little overwhelmed by the other flavours in the dish, and for the lamb I am not a huge fan of spinach whereas others were put off by the lamb meat still being on the bone.

On this day the African ‘donuts’ were also available.  While I didn’t sample these I was reliably informed that they were more savoury than an American style donut and with a texture closer to that of a scone.  While served with a warm sweet syrup, they went much better with the suggested accompanying ice cream.

Nothing fancy but a nice family run cafe providing interesting food not generally available in town.  Both the owner and his wife are very friendly (it was amusing listening to the discussions with Mr H about all the people they knew in common without actually having met before), and while there is nothing fancy about the food or its presentation it’s filling, tasty and comforting in style.  The only real negative is that some dishes did take quite a while to come out, leading to a longer lunch that I’d really planned on.

Food – 7
Service – 7
Ambience – 6
Price – 7

43 Walker Street
Dandenong Vic 3175
Tel: 0404 330 432

African Village Kitchen on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

I've been to a few African eateries (and just blogged about one, actually), but some of these dishes are really different to what I've had, very interesting!

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