By Sade Williams
For Africans visiting Dubai and those resident in the city, the Kiza brand has become a household name among them as its management has been able to revolutionise the offering of African cuisine in an amazing manner.
Known as KIZA Restaurant & Lounge, it is located on level 1, Emirates Financial Towers, Dubai, where it offers the Pan African Cuisine with taste beyond the bud. It is known to be the first authentic pan-African restaurant in Dubai.
The eatery, which opened in 2015, is an airy, chic space filled with modern African artwork – and hosts gigs by African musicians.
It offers various events and offerings to customers on select days while the events feature some African musicians.
On Fridays, it offers the ‘brunch Pan-Afriq with unlimited house beverages between 12 noon to 6 pm; the Business Lunch Special for main meal and beverage takes place weekdays from 12noon to 4pm; the throwback industry night with 50% discount on house beverages happens on Tuesday Nights.
The Queens’ night or Dinner with the girls comes with complimentary beverages every Wednesday night, Afro-beats takes place every Thursday while Reggae Ladies night takes place on Saturdays with three free drinks for ladies before 12 midnight.
There is the Uptown Kiza and Wahala with DJ Vinnie every Sunday from 10.pm, among other events.
Kiza’s menu includes Chicken Brik, a North African dish consisting of thin ﬁlo pastry around a ﬁlling made of chicken,chopped onions, garlic, parsley and cheese; African Meat Patty, a tender beef pie with vegetables and seasonal herbs; Special BBQ Chicken Wings; KELE WELE, a Ghanaian street food favourite, fried ripe plantain seasoned with spices and served with peanuts.
There are also classic Nigerian stew ranging from: Efo Riro, sautéed spinach stew with red bell pepper, onions and spices cooked in red palm oil originating from Western Nigeria; Red Stew, a West African traditional stew made with onions, red bell pepper and tomatoes; Egusi, a Nigerian ground melon seed stew with ﬁnely chopped spinach cooked in red palm oil and Okra Stew, West African stew made with okra and onions cooked in red palm oil.
Others are African Specialties such as Ugali / Pap, Plantain, Sukuma Wiki, Pounded Yam, smooth mash made from boiled yam Semolina Jollof Rice, Masala Fries, Kachumbari, Yellow Or White Eba / Gari made from Cassava Grains or ﬂour, Jollof Risotto, Moi Moi, Nigerian Black Eyed Bean Pudding and Boiled Yam, to mention but a few.
To capture the essence of Kiza in Dubai, the restaurant’s Nigerian founder, Lukman Akanbi, had told the National, an online medium just before the opening in 2015 that “Kiza embodies the vibrancy and personality of Africa, it is all-too easy to accept what is often a negative perception of the continent. We stand to redirect those perceptions.
“Our concept is to offer patrons a multifaceted sensory experience. We seek to combine food with art, music and fashion. Even then, we could never do justice to all that the continent has to offer”.
The menu is filled with dishes spanning the continent. You’ll find tamiya, a Sudanese take on falafel; kele wele, a popular street food in Ghana; an Ethiopian lamb soup; egusi, a ground melon-seed stew from Nigeria; an Eritrean chicken stew; a variety of West-African meat and vegetable pies; and so much more.
“It is my belief that African cuisine is generally inaccessible, if African cuisine had the same global reach as Peruvian, Chinese and Italian, perhaps there would be more of an appreciation for it. I genuinely see Kiza as spearheading that reach”, said Akanbi, who had at that time, lived in Dubai for eight years.
Kiza offers best-in-class pan-African hospitality and entertainment services. Its service offering spans across dining, music, fashion, art and entertainment.
The Kiza brand was established in 2012 as a casual dining and entertainment brand, quickly developing a unique market position across all of its segments.
Based in Oud Metha Dubai, Kiza’s following grew exponentially and captured a wide demographic across the UAE.
Kiza has also been a platform through which premium African artists have performed in Dubai.
In 2015, Kiza was remodeled as an upscale restaurant and lounge.
“Our flagship restaurant, based in the Dubai International Financial Centre, cleverly harmonises all aspects of our operating model. In addition to our organic growth, we have also expanded geographically with the opening of Kiza Nairobi in the last quarter of 2015”, according to the management.
It plans to also open branches in Senegal, Canada New York and other African countries.