Review: Woosa, Clayton Street West, Newcastle

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FESTIVE indulgence is a distant memory and selection boxes and canapes have been swapped for sparkling water and celery.

However, everything in moderation, including moderation, and the occasional treat is needed to see us all through transforming from sluggish winter caterpillars into sleek spring butterflies.

Woosa, specialising in Malaysian and Thai fusion grub, had been on my “to munch” list for a few months, after springing up on the site of the highly-feted Black Door restaurant.

We called in after topping up our culture levels at the Baltic art centre on Gateshead Quayside.

Woosa’s menu is packed full of treats which even devoted Asian foodies might not have sampled, but the basic framework of noodles, rice, grills, stir frys and curries guided us gently through as our tastebuds rocked to the unusual complimentary snack of Malaysian pickles.

I lavishly opted for the most expensive thing on the menu – cili ketam – chilli crab, served with crispy buns, while my partner chose ayam kunyit – grilled chicken with turmeric paste – and a side order of vegetable spring roll.

When the waitress could barely be seen peering over my dish, I knew my £12.95 had been well spent. A huge crab, legs and all, who went to its death in a thick sauce dotted with fiery red chillies and served with golden fried buns, like savoury donuts.

Customer service in Woosa warrants a special mention – speedy, friendly and helpful – not least when they kept me stocked in crackers, napkins and a fingerbowl as the crab and I wrestled.

My dining partner was equally happy with his pile of chicken legs, quickly mopping up the turmeric paste with a heap of subtle and sticky coconut rice, all for £9.95.

The spring roll a was plump and pale offering, nothing like the quick-frozen, deep-fried padding of a thousand Chinese buffets, but a traditional Malaysian offering, priced £3.95.

After such success with our main courses, it seemed a shame to pass on dessert, especially with a two for £4.95 offer.

I made quick work of a tiny Eastern take on a school dinner classic – sago gula melaka – tapioca pearl pudding, custard, palm syrup and coconut foam squeezed into a shot glass.

An equally perfectly-presented mango cheesecake, with mango and passion fruit sauce – kek keju mangga –- put a smile on his face which had been diminished by early-morning gym sessions and banning the booze.

My budget was always more Burger King than Black Door, so I don’t know if the decor has changed much, but minimal with shades of chocolate and cream probably won’t offend anyone.

The bill also kept Woosa in our good books, at £35.90, including two soft drinks.