A ‘What’s New’ in Cyprus flashed across my screen revealing a gleaming, cavernous dining room in a familiar area that once housed the legendary Abu Faysal. The carnivores will recognise the site as it was previously occupied by Zebra, whose proprietors had a very limited vegan menu.
As I have been campaigning for an increase in worthy ethnic establishments in our capital, I am always delighted to welcome another, although it appears the trend follows trouble, which comes not singly but in battalions. There are close on a dozen Oriental diners in the centre of town, and now we have one specialising in East Asian cuisine: a bold claim. The eastern part of the continent is geographically the land of the Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian, Korean, Taiwanese and of course their dependants: Hong Kong and Macau. What a range. My companion and I were most eager to sample the fare, hoping not to be compromised by any canine or reptilian dishes, but nevertheless full of enthusiasm for this exciting venture.
If space, decor, charm, pulchritude and service can carry a business to success then East Asia has no problems. Our host, Perseas, previously connected to Taste of India and the long forgotten Mephil, took us to a table for two in a well-spaced, bright dining room and introduced our waitress, the delightful Yiannoula, so knowledgeable of our native wines.
The menu contained hundreds of dishes, soups, starters, spicy and otherwise and was equally divided between the sub-continent and China. Not a whisper of the exotic from Mongolia or Korea. And, moreover, we were to ignore the Indian cuisine, even the Tandoor and concentrate on the Chinese. Why? Because the chef is Chinese. Poor Perseas’ kitchen is controlled by the jobsworths at the ministry of labour who have not approved his request for the qualified staff.
Chinese it is. Forgoing the Hot Sour Soup, usually a favourite, we order the Prawn Dim Sum, followed by Salt Caked Chili Pork Ribs with two hot sauces and a spread of Fried Seaweed, these were served with the usual suspects. I was disappointed to receive the Jasmine Tea in a bag with a little metal teapot of hot water instead of the Chinese porcelain. The dumplings were first rate as were the ribs. The only item missing on the vast starter line-up was pickled jellyfish. From the main list we chose Szechuan Duck; Strips of Crispy Chilli Beef and Egg Fried Rice. There were nine different duck dishes and every other Chinese meal one expects to see on a menu in Europe. The duck lacked the bite I anticipated, and the beef was chewy and overdone. Otherwise, when the proprietor can arm-wrestle the administration into allowing him access to the gentlemen in toques, I am sure he will attract the numbers he deserves to take up the 125 covers in such pleasant surroundings. He opens only for dinner every day – there is ample parking and no intrusive music.
Quite a pleasant evening; I look forward to the rest of the continent.
WHERE 41-43 Klimentos Street, Nicosia.
CONTACT 22 270127, [email protected]
PRICE Not unreasonable