I’ve always liked Simply Asia, since I first savoured their succulent seafood and other dishes way back in 2007.  Their food is fresh and tasty, with vegetables that crunch satisfyingly instead of squishing, and sauces that don’t burn with MSG.  And, they have great vegetarian and seafood options for those of us trying to avoid eating meat from animals that are not free range.

Well, this month Simply Asia is launching ten new dishes to complement its existing menu, and last week I was invited to come and try them all out (yes, all ten – I made sure I arrived hungry!).

I couldn’t make it to their Heritage Square tasting, so instead went to the one at their Plumstead branch, to which I’ve never been before.  The branch owner, Massimo, a lovely guy who is wild about Thai food and very proud of his restaurant,  sat and chatted with us as we worked our way through the various dishes.

The star ingredient of their new menu items is duck, offered for the first time at Simply Asia.  Duck featured in five of the ten dishes, starting with delicious duck spring rolls and ending with duck slathered in sweet soya sauce.  I loved all the duck dishes, but the ones that stood out, for me, were the Ped Phad Phrik Khing – red curry duck stir fry – and the Khao Na Ped – roasted duck slices in tasty soya sauce.

Another winner was the Geang Butternut, a combination of chicken, butternut and onion in a yellow curry sauce (the butternut is unusual for Asian cuisine – but works really well in this dish).

Close to popping, I then had to find room for tasters of their two new desserts as well: the Thai Angels – ‘crispy pastry triangles filled with rich melted chocolate and finely chopped cashew nuts and served with ice cream’, and the Thai Chocolate Brownie – ‘a decadent dark chocolate brownie filled with nuts and topped with sweet pear slices, served with ice cream’.

Wow, what a feast.  Some dishes worked better for me than others (wasn’t too crazy about their new curry linefish dish), but on the whole I think they’ve added some excellent new flavours to their range.

Of course, it would be even better if the duck was free range and locally sourced (they fly it in from Thailand), but as I understand it, there currently aren’t enough ducks available in South Africa to supply the demand and in any case the cost factor will always come into play where free range is concerned.

The fact is, until we, as customers, are willing to pay what free range meat costs without bleating, we are not going to find it widely available in restaurants and take-away outlets where affordability is a key factor.  I loved the duck, and I would definitely have it again – but I would try to keep it as a special treat, opting instead for the vegetarian and sustainable seafood options most of the time (no hardship there – their seafood dishes rock!).

It was a wonderful treat to try all of those new dishes, and I’m looking forward to coming back for more.

Simply Asia has several branches in the Western Cape, including Heritage Square (flagship restaurant), Cavendish Square, Lakeside, the Waterfront, Plumstead and many more. The new dishes will be available soon at all Simply Asia branches.

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