A couple months back I attended a watch party to cheer on the Houston restauranters behind the Peli Peli concept as they competed on CNBC’s Restaurant Startup. Using the Shark Tank format, contestants compete for an investment to start a new restaurant. During the show, the team presented a fast casual option to their widely successful Peli Peli restaurant. The team won the competition and began preparing to open their new concept, Peli Peli Kitchen! In preparation they also hosted a pop up kitchen earlier this summer which I attended and thoroughly enjoyed. Now as they open the first Peli Peli Kitchen location, I feel as though I watched a child grow up from infancy and develop into adulthood. Before opening day, myself and several other bloggers were treated to a six course tasting of Peli Peli Kitchen’s best dishes. Check out my thoughts below!
The inside of the restaurant is amazing! The owners commissioned a graffiti artist to paint murals and small paintings throughout the restaurant from the ceiling to the floor. Just above the food you will see a painting of Nelson Mandela outfitted with boxing gloves. Lining the wall by the bathroom are photos of musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Michael Jackson. I spoke with the artist few minutes and he mentioned that Erykah Badu commissioned work from him! I was extremely impressed!
Artwork aside, Peli Peli Kitchen stays true to the fast casual concept. You walk in and order from the food line, pick up your order and pick your own seat. The price point also fits the casual feel with most items being under ten bucks. For those that like the original Peli Peli, but cannot afford that on the regular, Peli Peli Kitchen gives you another outlet.
To me, the first course is hands down the best thing on the menu! For the breakfast menu, Peli Peli Kitchen offers a Smoked Salmon Rosti. This dish is served on naan, with hash browns, sautéed spinach, smoked salmon, capers, goat cheese, poached egg, hollandaise, fried onions and sliced peppadews. There is a lot going on in this dish yes, but all it all comes together in a perfect way. They are smartly offering this dish till 4pm i.e. brunch hours, on the weekends so I thankfully will be able to partake!
The Huguenot Pork Belly and Prawnster are both sandwiches served on brioche buns. Based on menu description, I figured I would have liked the prawnster better. I mean who doesn’t love shrimp and lobster right? But I actually liked the pork belly better especially the blue cheese sauce.
By the third course my stomach sent a signal to my taste buds and said shut it down up there! So quite frankly my judgment after that point was a tad skewed. I did take the last two entree dishes, Braised Oxtail plate and the “Peli” quarter chicken home and a to go box and liked them better the next day. I really enjoyed the oxtail and the yellow rice served with it is even better. The Peli chicken is likely one of their signature dishes. Understand though that this is not your typical rotisserie chicken. The menu describes it as “flavor-infused” and the flavors I tasted seemed fruit based, maybe even a pineapple.
I really tested the bounds of my stomach on this day, let me tell you! For desserts, Peli Peli Kitchen offers Sticky Toffee Cupcakes and the Cakechurro. Here is where my praise ends. Sticky Toffee is not my thing so I did not care for the cupcake flavor. If you like sticky toffee though then you will appreciate this cupcake because it does do well with texture and portion size. The Cakechurro is a confusing menu option at a South African restaurant. When these odd dishes are done well you forget that it does not belong and just enjoy it! Unfortunately the flavors here did not wow me enough to overlook this edition. It seemed that they still are tweaking this dish so I may have to try it again.
I think this is a good concept providing Houstonians with a fast inexpensive option for great South African cuisine!