As much as Cape Town is laid-back and chilled, it’s also an incredibly fast-paced city. Things constantly change … and this includes restaurants. “Here one day, gone the next” seems to be the unofficial Cape Town motto.
When I moved to Cape Town as a teenager, I remember seeing the Indian restaurant Bukhara. And I noticed it every time I walked past or, later, drove past it. Over the years, it ingrained itself in my brain as one of the few constants in the city.
Now here’s the strangest thing: I had never actually visited. But, as mentioned, things change. Bukhara has now rebranded as Awara, and I finally dined there. Well, technically, I lunched … but still.
Bukhara, which tags itself as “arguably the finest Indian cuisine on Planet Earth“, has been around for 25+ years. But being well into its 20s, it needed a bit of a change. So, drum roll, please welcome Awara, brought to you by Bukhara.
All the goodness of the old, with a bit more new fusion.
Hello Awara, Asian Grills, and Modern Indian
To visit Awara, I grabbed my buddy Paul – who is also the biggest lover of Indian food I know! I, on the other hand, know very little about Indian food. I was definitely in for a foodie adventure and, maybe, a bit more spice than I had bargained for.
Awara is a beautiful space hidden on the first floor on the corners of Church and Burg Streets in the Cape Town city centre. It’s an interesting space because it seems both light and dark at the same time. It’s filled with dark furniture, but bright light streams in from outside if you happen to visit during the day as we did.
Unrelated to day/evening time visits, I really love the fact that you can look into the kitchen through enormous glass windows. There’s something wonderful about seeing how your food is being made.
Apart from dining, Awara also seems like a great spot for after-work drinks.
A Warm Hello
Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by GM Johan Venter. He suggested Awara present us with a bunch of their favourite menu items. Now, who am I to argue with the experts? But, I must say, there were a few other goodies on the menu that I really wanted to try. I guess I’ll have to do that the next time I visit!
The Awara Menu
The great thing about the Awara menu is that it works wonderfully for sharing but is equally suited for stand-alone don’t-touch-my-food dining. For our lunch of assorted tapas and curries, we ended up with the sharing version.
Indian Street Food
We started with some traditional Indian street food, the pani puri and the palak papdi chat.
The Pani Puri (R70) consists of four different crisp puri stuffed with potatoes and chickpeas and is served with tamarind & mint cumin water.
These little crunchy balls of goodness were super yum, and I especially liked the pistachio one. The other three were mint, almond, and an Indian spice mix.
An absolute winner is the Prawn Palak Papdi Chat (R100) with crispy spinach, flour crisps, chickpeas, mint, and a tamarind & yoghurt dressing.
Awara was kind enough to serve the prawn on the side, as Paul can’t eat shellfish.
I thought of these little deep-fried prawn pieces as prawn popcorn and really enjoyed them! The crispy spinach was out of this world.
This dish is a must-order. Paul also hasn’t stopped talking about it.
Sizzle Sizzle Chicken
Next up, we had the Korean Chilli Chicken (R95). These boneless chicken drumsticks are marinated in gochujang chilli.
Literally sizzling, this hot dish was served with romaine lettuce on the side. The idea is to pile some chicken onto the lettuce and eat it like a taco.
Yummy indeed, but they weren’t lying about the chilli part …
Something Middle Eastern
Proving that Awara is not just an Indian restaurant, we had the Lamb Kofta (R100).
These koftas were crunchy on the outside and super soft on the inside.
Lucky for me, they were also served with humus on the side to help calm the heat of the spice. As you may have gathered, I struggle a bit with spicy food.
Fillet For The Win
We then moved on to what was probably my favourite tapas dish, the Fillet Shitake Mushroom (R100), which was marinated with soya and garlic.
This beautiful dish was served with peanut sauce and was oh-so-soft and tasty! A definite winner.
For our final tapas dish, we had the Fish Tikka (R100) with ajwain, chickpea, and yoghurt marinade.
I tend to prefer my fish doused with lemon, but if you love fish in general, this is a great option. It was just a bit too fishy for me personally, but nonetheless a great dish.
Almost bursting at the seams, we were far from done eating cos next up were the curry dishes! We were presented with the Murg Lababdar (R175) and the Lamb Korma (R250).
The Murg Lababdar – totally Labrador in my head – is a yummy variation of butter chicken. This chicken tikka in a spicy chunky tomato & onion gravy was incredibly tasty and very, very satisfying.
The Lamb Korma
The Lamb Korma is not on the menu but stems from the old Bukhara menu. As I understand it, just order it if you want it! With large tender chunks of meat, this mild curry dish was flavourful and full of goodness.
Of course, we had some plain Basmati Rice (R35) and Garlic Nan (R40) with our curries – cos everything with garlic is great!
The nan was soft and yummy and is the perfect little feel-good food.
The Wine Menu
To be honest, I kind of forgot to look at the drinks menu. We asked Johan for his wine recommendation and just went with that.
Initially, we only planned on having one glass of wine each – the House Red, a delicious Pinot Noir from Snow Mountain. But with all the spice, I thought we definitely needed another glass and ordered the House White, a fresh Sauvignon Blanc, also from Snow Mountain.
I never set out to look for faults when dining, but it often happens that one thinks, “Hmmm, I would have done XYZ differently.”
It didn’t occur to me till I sat down to write this review that I didn’t have a single one of those moments at Awara. All the dishes were beautifully presented, and you could taste the freshness in every single dish.
I would not change a thing. From the warm welcome, the great service, and the incredible food, Awara is a treat in every way and well worth a visit.
By the way, it turns out that Awara also does gift vouchers. I recently discovered the joy of restaurant gift vouchers as I wanted to surprise my sis, Benike, with one in London. So, Awara, you get extra special points for offering those!
A huge thank you to the entire team at Awara team for hosting us and making us feel so very welcome.
Contact Awara Restaurant
If you wanna try this gorgeous restaurant for lunch, dinner, or a special occasion, we’d recommend getting a booking ahead of time.
You’ll find all the details below.
Address: 33 Church Street, Cape Town City Centre
Opening Times: Wednesday – Saturday (11:00 – 23:00), Sunday – Tuesday (11:00 – 22:00)
Call: +27 21 424 000
Article Date: November 2022
All information correct at the time of publication. We do not accept any liability caused by errors, including, but not limited to, changes in price, menu, opening times, address, or other contact details. We’re not medical professionals and cannot give medical advice. We only provide personal review services.
Copyright of text and all original images/videos, unless otherwise stated, belongs to I Love Foodies, and they may not be used for social media, websites, or any other form of advertising. Images are available at set rates. Please contact us for details.