From Iceland — Kigali Needs Fine-Tuning

Kigali Needs Fine-Tuning

Words by
Photo by
Nanna Dís

Published June 17, 2014


Ingólfsstræti 8, 101 Reykjavík
Mon- Fri 10- 6, Sat 11- 20
What we think
African café/diner
Sadly, not much
Kitschy and colourful, but needs improvement
One employee. Does his best.
Price for 2
3–4,000 ISK

Kigali is a recently opened café named after the capital and largest city of the war-ridden African country of Rwanda. It serves all the conventional westernized versions of Italian Coffee, the only difference being that their Americano is called an “Africano.” A small number of sweets are on offer to enjoy with your coffee, served in bite-size pieces that are easy to take along with the take-away coffee.

In addition to serving coffee and sweets, a small variety of African dishes are on offer as well as a changing soup of the day. “African dishes” is of course pretty vague, and almost insulting to a whole continent. The problem is that it is very difficult to pinpoint the dishes to any one particular region, as far as my knowledge of African cuisine goes, which has all derived from books. There are no dishes that include cassava, for example, which is the main staple in Rwanda, along with sweet potatoes.

My companion and I both had the soup of the day (990 ISK) and a mix of the dishes (990 ISK) that were on offer on a cloudy Monday in the beginning of June. The soup was a curry made out a base of chickpeas and pumpkin that had been blitzed to a smooth and lovely consistency. It was especially tasty, actually, and even had a fair amount of hot spice to it, which was a pleasant surprise. It was served with a homemade bread bun, which I fear were made the day before. Not bad at all, but not cracking fresh either.

Sadly, as for as the meal goes, the soup was the only dish that was actually worth finishing. The other sides included olive and rice mixed together with absolutely no seasoning. We had a creamy concoction of corn, onion and bell peppers, which had a crunch of an unidentifiable nut-mixture that tasted like plastic. We had an unappetising omelette that was probably made the day before, and then re-heated in a microwave. And, finally, we had a curry-seasoned fish (haddock is my guess, but can’t really be sure), which took the most courage, as it had obviously been cooked at least a day before, if not earlier. It was cold and dry and… let’s just leave it at that.

As we tried to look on the bright side, the soup, after all, was quite tasty and the flagship dish, we decided to finish the meal with a coffee. Both of us ordered a latté macchiato to get that deep taste of espresso that we craved. The coffee however, was average at best, which was a bit of a disappointment. The bite-size French chocolate cake, however, was creamy and delicious, and had a strong taste of chocolate, as it should.

My guess is that Kigali was opened before their strategy was fully developed. The soup was good, but everything else needs some fine-tuning. The place itself could be tidier, to begin with. And when I asked about cold drinks on offer (maybe hoping for a soda), the only thing on offer was the sugary Icelandic juice box Svali. That needs improvement right there. That said, Kigali has a brilliant location, and in my mind, if better executed, a fine idea for an establishment. I really, really wish them all the best and hope that the fine-tuning will take place as soon as possible.

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