Address: 140-560 Johnson St. (Inner northwest corner of Market Square)
Phone: (250) 590-4231
Price: ~$10 for a main
Notes: Truly a hole in the wall with delicious Indonesian curries
photo via Ayo Eat's facebook page
Ayo Eat has been at the top of the "to be reviewed" list for a while (and not just alphabetically!) and I am quite sad it took me so long. In fact, I'm shocked I haven't heard more buzz about it from foodies in Victoria because it rocked our socks right off! The little restaurant, which just might be the smallest in Victoria, has been open for 3 years. Chef and owner Bana serves up his slow cooked Indonesian dishes out of a small kitchen where his door doubles as his till window and virtually nothing's out of a long armed reach. There are only two seats outside of the small table, but everything is served in to-go containers so you can walk to one of the nearby Market Square seating areas or take it home.
Bana formerly worked for Shiki Sushi in town, and his bio outside of Victoria is impressive. He has cooked all over the world, and has even cooked for the Dalia Lama. I'm not really surprised, as his dishes are clearly served with a mastery of spice and flavour. Writing this post is the first time in a long time where my descriptions of food fail me... there just are not enough words in English to capture the true complexity and depth of the flavours in this food.
The menu is small, but I saw the twinkle in his eye when a customer after us asked "what's good?" and he said "everything" — and it's true. One note for the spice-phobic: these dishes pack a punch, so ask before making your selection... and start working on your spice tolerance now so you can work you way up to the other dishes on the menu!
April 6, 2013
My partner-in-food-and-life chose the smaller of the two dishes - but for the price it was a steal. It came with three skewers of chicken in a spicy peanut satay sauce was clearly prepared with attention to detail and a most excellent recipe, as the sauce was full of flavour with a good level of spice. The rice on the side was lovely as well, and came topped with a drizzle of delicious green curry which was a fantastic touch.
Beef rendangThis was the most expensive item on the menu, but also quite large. The dish is one that is quite popular and found in many styles of curry, and is often served during religious or cultural ceremonies and special occasions. It was absolutely incredible with a rich, spicy sauce way more complex and flavourful than any curry I have ever tried before. The beef was slow cooked in large chunks that has been cooked so long they shredded. It also came with a side of spicy potato chips, pickled vegetables and prawn crackers, which mixed in some tang to the spice.
April 6, 2013
Bana recognized my partner-in-food-and-life from the lunch crowd at Shiki, so he was definitely friendly... but he was equally as friendly to us as he was to the customers that came while we were eating our food at the wee counter. The wait for food wasn't very long at all, and we used it to go wander around Paboom next door.