Sometimes the best things get relegated to the most liminal of spaces. You’ll find Fusion Afro Caribbean Cafe & Restaurant at the end of a dead end street in an industrial estate that backs onto the railway line. Fringing palms and African music — like the popular Nigerian hit, Soweto — make the dining area quite pleasant, well when trains aren’t thundering past. It’s a one-man affair, with owner/chef Abu Koroma also working the floor. With an empty restaurant, Koroma took the time to explain that he cooked for the BBC in London, before making his way to our shores.
His menu is a mash-up of African and Caribbean dishes. Some, like jerk chicken and joloff rice, will probably be familiar. Others, like mio mio ($8), I’d never seen on a Sydney menu before. It’s a Nigerian steamed pudding made from black eyed beans ground to a fine paste. They’re whizzed up with onions, dried crayfish, oil and other seasonings then steamed, taking on the shape of whatever mould the mixture was poured into. Topped with fresh tomato, mio mio is tasty and compelling, particularly against house-made chilli sauce that hits like a snakebite.
From Koroma’s country of birth, Sierra Leone, he presents rice akara ($10). These sweet plantain and rice flour dumplings are fried until darkly caramelised then served with a gentle, Sierra Leone onion gravy. Their banana and nutmeg notes go well with sharp and spicy glasses of icy, house-made ginger beer ($10/each). The same sweetish onion gravy sits over fluffy, fermented cassava in Attiéké ($35), a Côte d'Ivoire dish. Alongside the cassava, which functions a bit like cous cous, this plate includes a whole, deep-fried fish, fried ripe plantain, crisp salad, and a pot of mayonnaise for dipping. We contrast it with suya meat ($30) Nigerian barbeque — a sizzling platter piled high with hunks of (sometimes bone-in) steak dusted in suya spice, washed onions and fresh tomato. The red-hued spice blend is nutty (from peanuts) and hot (from red chillies) with hints of garlic, onion, ginger and cloves. Be adventurous: there’s plenty to like here!