Note that Cachumba no longer exists. I am keeping this merely for historical interest.
220 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2LW. Tel 0161 4452479
Cachumba is self-styled on its website as a “Cafe & Take Away”. It certainly does a fair amount of take-away business, but apart from that I’d describe it more as an informal restaurant. Food is brought to you at your table, though the menus are slipped under the practical glass that covers all the tables at each place setting. Service, like the restaurant, is informal and friendly. Be prepared to wait a while for your food if they are busy.
It may look closed, but don’t be fooled – if it’s earlyish evening, then it is probably open despite appearances. But in marked contrast to most surrounding restaurants and bars, which parade themselves with open doors and outside tables, Cachumba keeps itself to itself. Behind the screens in the window is a lush red haven, with soft music that is as eclectic as the food. It is a world apart from the currently trendy minimalistic style – a world that is more gentle, and inhabited by a rare, quiet sub-species of West Didsburyite.
It is difficult to describe the style of food, as it comes from around the world. The focus, if focus is the word for such a vast area, is South and South-East Asia, but there is at least one African dish on the menu too. Take a look at the menu on their website. I have my favourites, but I know others that prefer other dishes so I won’t bother recommending anything in particular. Vegetarians are well catered for. You may wonder, as I did, if it is possible to do justice to such a broad range of cuisines in one small restaurant. Maybe it is not, and I wouldn’t like to vouch for the food’s authenticity, but it tastes great. In particular, I am always struck by the vivacity of the flavours, presumably the result of everything being freshly cooked with fresh spices, and I always leave with a pleasant tingling sensation in my mouth. And I never leave feeling overwhelmed by the heavy greasy sauces that are all too common in Indian restaurants in the UK.
All your dishes will by default be brought to your table more or less simultaneously, so if that does not suit be prepared to ask specifically for staggered servings. The portions are not huge, so you should probably think in terms of a couple of dishes each. Though having said that, the portion sizes seemed generally larger than normal when I was there last a week ago, and the Vietnamese prawn fried rice dish was huge.
With spicy food, I would naturally tend towards aromatic white wine – well non-Chardonnay whites at least. It is obvious that the wines were all obtained from Vin Vino, and very modestly marked up. For example I see that you can buy the Solare Falanghina for £6.30 retail, and you can get it at Cachumba for only £8.95. Recently I have usually been going for the Kirabo South African Chenin Blanc. You won’t see it on the wine list on their website, but it is £9.95 (£6.90 retail). I didn’t take a tasting note, but I remember it being crisp and apply. At various points in the past year or so I have also liked the Falanghina and the Gewurz, but did not get on with the Pinot Grigio – I think they are the ones they currently sell but cannot be 100% sure. Anyway, Cachumba gets top marks for reasonably priced wines, and top marks for displaying their wine list in the window. It used to be BYO, but sadly no more.
All in all I would highly recommend Cachumba. Great food, friendly and relaxed, and a reasonably priced wine list. I find it strange that it is always as quiet as it is, and think it deserves more recognition than it gets. If you don’t believe me, here are reviews on sugarvine and onionring.