Big Fish, a classic Rwandan dish found most frequently in the lively Nyamirambo neighbourhood of Kigali, is such a treat. It’s a giant tilapia, large enough to feed three people, grilled and stuffed with onions and various spices, and served alongside grilled potatoes. It’s an absolutely delicious experience, and perfect for big groups to try together. For Kigali’s best, head to Panorama Ten to Two.
Brochettes, otherwise known as grilled meat or fish on a stick, is one of the most consumed dishes in Rwanda. Brochettes can be found at pretty much every restaurant – from the smallest of bars to the fanciest of hotel restaurants. Some of the best in the country can be found at Car Wash, a popular bar in Kigali.
Sambaza, little fish the size of a pinkie, are caught from Lake Kivu at sunset by fishermen with tightly woven nets. They are sold at markets and restaurants by the kilogram, and often fried in a thick batter to be served with mayonnaise. Though found all over the country, the best are at Republika Lounge, an upscale restaurant in Kigali.
Republika Lounge, KG 674, Kigali, Rwanda, +250 788 303 030
A thick and spiced peanut sauce served at lunch buffets around Rwanda, ubunyobwa is a delicious and creamy addition to the often starchy lunch options. The tastiest ubunyobwa is made at Afrika Bite and is best eaten alongside a sizzling plate of chapati, a flatbread served around East Africa.
Afrika Bite, KG 674, Kigali, Rwanda, +250 733 503 888
Zingalo is a brochette made from goat intestine. Though not for everyone, this is a classic Rwandan dish that shouldn’t be missed. The best Zingalo brochettes can be found at a roadside stop named Sina Gerard, between Kigali and Musanze. Sold for less than a dollar, they make for a filling and unique lunch.
Sina Gerard, RN 4, Nyirangarama, Rwanda, +250 788 302 999
The spiciest of chili oils is found at every bar and restaurant in Rwanda. Known as Akabanga, it’s served in a small eyedropper and adds a great bit of heat to any curry, soup, or vegetable dish. Don’t put more than a few drops on your food, however, as this stuff is the real deal.
Made from fermented banana juice and sorghum flour, Urwagwa is a beer that is home-brewed in pretty much every rural Rwandan town. Ask any local bar for a cold glass, and get ready for one of the world’s most intense beverages.
Although pork is rarely a staple in Rwandan diets, akabenz, a barbecued pork dish, is one of Kigali’s favourite foodie items. The best akabenz is found at Come Again Bar in the Remera neighbourhood of Kigali, where pork is sold by the kilogram and washed down with a lot of cheap beer.
Made from plantains steamed in banana leaves, matoke is a Rwandan staple found at most local restaurants. Starchy, hot, and often well-spiced, this dish is a Rwandan specialty all foodies have to try before leaving the country.