Situated just above street level and overlooking the site of Church Street’s quaint open-air day market, Awara is an invigorated extension of the famed Bukhara restaurant, which occupied the very same space for over 25 years. Think of it as Bukhara’s young and trendy offspring, now ready to cater to contemporary tastes. With a desire to modernise its gourmet Indian dining experience, the team behind Awara has curated a new menu that includes a variety of Asian grilled tapas alongside the finely prepared classic curries the Mother City adores.
What’s in the new name? According to Johan Venter, the operations manager of the Bukhara Group, “The restaurant was named after the Bollywood movie Awara, which translates to ‘The Vagabond’, that was directed by the owner Dr Sabi Sabharwal’s father.”
So it’s all about keeping it in the family, and the owner, manager and chefs remain the same but the team now also includes talented new chefs who specialise in tapas. The superlative quality upon which Bukhara’s renown is based also remains the same. You can pronounce Awara with a V (for voomah!) or W (for wow!), as is your preference. No matter how you sound it, Awara’s exciting new sharing plates offer deliciousness in abundance.
The new menu covers Indian, Korean, Thai, Japanese and Chinese flavours that are grilled on open-flame charcoal grills and in traditional Indian clay tandoori ovens, allowing guests to choose between modern creations like slow-cooked Teriyaki Octopus and Fish Tikka, comfort classics like Butter Chicken and Lal Maas, or a combination of both. There is an extensive wine and cocktail selection, selected to complement the dishes, and seven classic deserts like Cheesecake and Chocolate Fondant.
For Venter, “My favourites right now are the Korean Chilli Chicken, Prawn Palak Papdi Chat and Paper Dosa. The Korean Chilli Chicken is tender, boneless leg meat marinated in gochujang chilli paste. The Prawn Palak Papdi Chat is an amazing blend of crispy baby spinach, chickpeas, potato, prawns, mint, tamarind and a yoghurt dressing. The Paper Dosa is a crispy, wafer-thin pancake filled with either chunky prawns and guacamole or minced lamb keema and cheese. But it’s hard to choose!” Patrons who’ve discovered the recently introduced concept concur: “Such great food,” reads one of the customer comments on Awara’s social media.
In parallel to the menu makeover, Awara has also had an interior decor revamp. The previously open plan area has been transformed into a cosier space with more private seating options and a lounge area.
“In Bukhara, we had orange walls and the whole space was filled with tables in an open-floor setup. For Awara, we’ve divided the restaurant into three sections: a large cocktail-esque lounge surrounded by decorative walls, the main dining area, and outdoor seating,” says Venter. Rich, deep earth tones on the walls bring velvety warmth to leather furnishings, dark wood tables and lots of greenery.
And the reason for the change in the first place? Says Sabharwal: “It’s been a wonderful journey with Bukhara, and we’re grateful to all our loyal customers for staying with us for over 25 years, and especially all through Covid. We could simply have continued with Bukhara, but we were all ready for a new challenge as a team, and we want to push our gourmet Asian concept even further. Flame-grilled plates speak to a contemporary palate and we’ve always worked with flame, so we feel it is the right moment to foreground our grills and develop new flavours. After Covid, there seems to be such a renewed sense of appreciation for and celebration of life, and we’re really feeling that. Our new concept lets us live in the now and our sharing plates are designed to bring people together since we are able enjoy communal eating and sharing and socialising once more!”
The Awara team is looking forward to welcoming guests to the rebranded eatery for its signature selection of fusion tapas. In addition, the venue offers weekday brunch, and cocktail sessions, and on Sundays and Mondays, there is a special 3-course menu for two.
Awara is located at 33 Church Street, Cape Town City Centre, and is open from Monday to Sunday, between 11h00 to 23h00.
To make a reservation contact +27 (0)21 424 0000 or email [email protected].
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For more information visit www.bukhara.com.