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Dining out: Five great African restaurants in the diaspora

By The Africa Report
Posted on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 16:00

If you find yourself in the lands of Africa’s new economic partners, or those of the old, the best Africa restaurants offer a taste of home that’s not just on the plate

TURAY’S AFRICA HOUSE: Xingfu Plaza, Beijing, China Among expat students and businessmen, as well as off-duty Chinese diplomats nostalgic for their African tours, Turay’s Africa House is an institution.

After Turay Lamin arrived in Beijing from Sierra Leone in 1994, he began hosting dinner parties at his apartment. A series of restaurants followed. The most recent incarnation – perched atop a convenience store in a modern tower block that is a short stroll from the trendy shops and bars of Sanlitun – is a bit tricky to find but rewards the search.

Takeaway orders from nearby embassies keep the kitchen of two African and three Chinese cooks bustling during the day.

Visit in the evenings and join an easy-going crowd for a comforting pan-African menu. Beijing will seem a world away.

KARIBU RESTAURANT:10 Crescent Street, Boston, USA Started in 2007, Armia Lubega’s Karibu Restaurant is a destination of choice for the Ugandan and East African communities in Waltham.

‘Karibu’ is a Swahili word meaning ‘welcome’, and over the weekends, large groups gather for football or to discuss politics throughout the day.

Brown tiles and furnishings, yellow walls covered with Ugandan batik cloth paintings, and a mixture of brown and yellow conical lamps make for a warm and earthy ambience.

The buffet-style menu is dynamic and includes staple Ugandan foods like matooke (mashed plantain) and groundnut stew but also deep-fried fish, greens, sweet potatoes and beef or chicken stew.

Other delicacies include fried plantain, cassava, posho, mandazis, samosa, kabalagala and chapati from the snacks menu.

The prices are pocket friendly: a meal of matooke, cassava, gonja, groundnut sauce with mushrooms, beans, and fried fish stew costs $12.

THE QUEEN OF SHEBA: 12 Fortess Road, London, UK Good kifto can be hard to find, even in Addis, but the Queen of Sheba in Kentish Town provides a tasty and plentiful plateful.

The kifto was followed by several delicious dishes, particularly a doro wot that was buttery without being oily, and juicy goden tibs, all accompanied by freshly made injera.

Like other London-based Ethiopian restaurants, the service is not the fastest, but it is very friendly, particularly if you are new to Ethiopian cuisine and slightly baffled by the menu descriptions.

The dining area is small – there’s only room for about 20 people – which creates an intimate and buzzing atmosphere, and also becomes very crowded on a Friday or Saturday night, when booking is recommended.

TANGER RESTAURANTE: 359 Rua Harmonia, Vila Madalena, São Paulo, Brazil Paulistanos are very proud of the diversity and the quality of the city’s gastronomy, yet African cuisine is definitely a weak spot.

Tanger stands as an exception. It is a landmark Moroccan restaurant in the chic neighbourhood of Vila Madelena, where most people under 50 seem to stay up all night.

The colourful Mediterranean setting is one of few oases in a chaotic city that struggles with maddening traffic and stress.

Dinah Doctors, the chef, experiments with nouvelle cuisine and a variety of couscous and tagine, offering a diversified six-page menu.

Do not miss out on the traditional mezzes and keep your eyes open for the occasional belly dancer.

LA TONTINE D’OR: 27, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, Paris, France. An evening at La Tontine d’Or is more often than not a jovial one.

If you go in on a match day, the restaurant will surely be streaming live African football on the television.

Failing that, conversation from some of the regulars will keep you right up to date with the latest goings-on in Cameroonian politics.

With a crucible of West African cuisine on offer, La Tontine d’Or serves Cameroonian dishes including ndolé, braised chicken and fish, as well as Ivorian attiéké and of course regional favourites plantain and accras.

No African restaurant is complete without a good selection of beers, and favourites here are Cameroonian Guinness.

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