Drew and I and a couple friends finally tried Kontiki, and in its new location on South University. Here’s the breakdown:
Located in the same shopping center as Mr. Chen’s, the outside is nothing fancy. But who cares? The inside is open and has brightly painted walls and a little African decor.
As soon as we walked in, we were greeted like friends. The owner came and talked to our table for a solid 5 minutes, answering our questions, asking us about our experiences with African food, and making us feel special. He may have been the kindest man I’ve ever met.
While you can view their menu on their Facebook, linked above, to sum it up, there are only six main courses offered and a few appetizers. However small the menu, it was still difficult to decide what to order, as everything sounded pretty new to me. So, we all opted for a different dish so we could try a bit of almost everything.
Rice Akara: FREE
Description: 6 Sierra Leonean banana fritters made with a batter of overripe banana, rice flour, and nutmet.
If you know me, you know I love a free food surprise. So, as our waiter brought us a large plate of these banana fritters, I was ecstatic.
They were just a little sweet, a little doughy (but not in a bad way) and very tasty! The sauce they came with was savory with a little heat. I enjoyed them both with and without the sauce.
Peanut Butter Soup and Rice: $12.99
Description: Peanut based soup with chicken or beef served with a side of steamed rice.
I’d never tried peanut butter soup before, but it was very tasty. This was my favorite dish. It was rich, only slightly peanut butter-y, and the chicken was cooked perfectly. However, there was a lot of grease settling on the top, which was not visually appealing. Yet, the soup didn’t taste greasy? I’d get this again.
Roast Meat Skewers $5.99
Description: Beef marinated in peanut butter and African spices.
This appetizer was ordered as part of our entrees. The meat was tender and cooked correctly. However, there wasn’t as much flavor as I was expecting. It was a little more bland than it looks. I probably would try a different appetizer instead in the future.
Cassava Leaves and Rice: $13.99
Description: Smoked fish, cassava leaves, chicken, lima beans, and onions sauteed in palm oil, served with white rice.
My friend ordered this one….we all tried it. No one was really a fan. To be fair, I hate the texture of cooked leaves (spinach, cassava, etc). The flavor was pretty bland, but the texture was too much for me. Not my cup of tea. However, I have a friend whose favorite dish here is this one. So, you may love it!
Jollof Rice and Stew: $12.99
Description: White rice cooked with tomato paste, bell peppers, onions, and West African spices, served with beef, chicken, or fish.
Drew got this dish. It was the most “American” dish we tried. The rice was good, but needed more salt/ flavor. The same goes for the tilapia. The cooked veggies tasted better than they looked, though. I’d want to try something more exciting in the future.
Beans and Plantains: $9.99
Description: Black eyed peas cooked in palm oil and served with plantains and a side of vegetables.
My vegetarian friend ordered this (the beans are vegetarian-friendly) and she loved it! Mixing the plantain with the beans really hit the spot.
I really wanted to love this place. The people that own it and work there are so friendly and genuine, they clearly love what they do. I really liked a couple of dishes, but expected more spices/flavor than what we received. Perhaps they are trying to “Americanize” the flavors too much? Add the spice! Give me some heat and/or new flavors! I would definitely suggest trying this place out. The peanut butter soup is really unique and tasty. Also, the free banana fritters make it worth a trip. So, give this place a try (don’t be shy about trying something new, nothing was too spicy or “out of the ordinary” for us southerners). Let me know what you think and what I should try on my next trip.