DINING Cafe Afrikan, 7 Glenealy, Central. Tel: 868-9299. Hours: noon to midnight; closed Sunday. TRACES of luck and prosperity are hard to miss here. This stylish, spacious cafe and restaurant imports the art of Africa - a pair of wooden sculptures from Nigeria on the glass doors, the elegant fertility statues in the dining room - to set the mood. Cafe Afrikan, nearly six months old, capitalises on an inspired menu and a well-trained staff to earn a reputation for creative food in a congenial atmosphere. What chef and manager Karen Wang does with a toaster oven (the cafe operates on a light refreshment licence; hence, no roasting or baking on the premises) is enough to send other chefs with more complete kitchens back a few notches. Once seated on the leopard print chairs four hungry carnivores were faced with a dazzlingly array of dishes, the majority of which could trace their culinary roots back to Africa and the Caribbean. After much shuffling of the wooden menus, we agreed to share a seafood salad ($88), a mix of mussels, shrimps, scallops and fennel in a piquant lime dressing. Polite scuffles over the last lettuce leaf could not be helped. But the battle of the fork was only just warming up. The tabbouleh chicken piri piri (described as ''chicken on fire'') arrived with the most dignified mound of bulgur (cracked wheat). Though good, it lacked the heat it promised. Tunisian couscous lived up to all expectations. The lamb melted on the fork even before it got to the mouth. The delicious overtones of mint in the vegetable sauce ($95) was a flavour bonus. Vegetarians needn't feel left out. A meat-free version is offered. No less substantial is a good range of sandwiches with a worldwide interpretation. The generous smoked salmon on rye with citrus vodka paste ($75) was a long way from Africa. But who was quibbling? The coconut pudding was crying out to be tried (wonderful) and the extravagant prose used to describe other desserts proved irresistible. Anything billed as five layers of indulgence with fresh cream, chocolate and chestnut takes some resistance ($32). The three chocolate fondues required a democratic decision; they came for two ($85). So be warned, it may not just the slices of fruit and cookies that come to a sticky end. Zanzibar's dark chocolate, cloves and cardamom was a sensation on a fondue fork. Even coffee wasn't an easy choice. Apart from the usual espresso, cappuccino and flavoured coffees were specials, including mocha Montezuma, a bitter-sweet chocolate with coffee vanilla bean and a touch of gold. Not poetic licence but flakes of gold floating on top. Perhaps the wooden twin sculptures from Nigeria really do inspire prosperity. From the speciality tea list - very berry ($35) Earl Grey tea with juniper berries and sweetened with strawberry jam threw the gauntlet down to the taste buds. Little touches - the tiny twist of lemon in the coffee spoon, the warm toasted walnuts - and the attentive service, not to mention the challenging menu, made us want to return to Cafe Afrikan. And we could afford to. The wine list offers a good selection of New World wines, nothing over $200. One dessert wine from Austria, fruity, refreshing and not too sweet, reminds of a Chateau Yequem for a fraction of the cost. Two can eat and drink for about $600. A set-menu at lunch (two courses plus beverage) is offered daily for $110. Under the magic spell of those benign statues, diners may end up poorer in pocket, but in terms of forages into new culinary territory, they will have prospered.