I have heard about Kafe Utu for some time. It is an African-themed restaurant in Singapore that serves a variety of cuisines from Liberia, Swahili, Kenya, Nigeria and etc. So when I met a foodie friend who’s also very adventurous with her palette, there comes the chance to check out the restaurant together.
The restaurant is nested in one of the traditional shophouses along Jiak Chuan Road. With brick-coloured walls, lush tropical greeneries and carved coffee tables decorating the iconic five-foot-way, the restaurant already sets the perfect mood for an African culinary safari.
The restaurant was packed with visitors on a weekday afternoon. Despite the busy crowd, their service remains warm and friendly. The staff actually served me iced water while I was waiting for a seat at their tropical-themed outdoor seating!
The indoor area exudes a modern cafe and bistro-like atmosphere. The staff appeared to understand their menu inside-out and is able to make recommendations based on our dining preferences and palette.
The restaurant offers a wide variety of cocktails, and they all look very, very interesting (and delectable too!) I wished I could try out their cocktail but since I am pregnant, I ordered their Mocha Bidibado “Abracadabra” (SGD 7), a mocha coffee rimmed with natural peanut butter, toasted almond & crushed pink peppercorns. I like this nutty, chocolatey milk coffee and that gentle peppery kick that lingers in my mouth after each sip. You should definitely give it a try if you love the combination of warm spices and smooth, chocolatey coffee.
My friend ordered the Hibiscus with Rosehip, Apple and Strawberry. The drink was refreshing and tasted very identical to a typical rosehip drink. It was a nice thirst quencher during a warm day but nothing especially remarkable.
While the restaurant serves African cuisines, you can also find Western brunch dishes with plenty of African influences on the menu.
We ordered Buttermilk Fried Chicken (SGD 18) as our starter. The chunky chicken thigh came piping hot and is battered with crispy buttermilk and spice mix. It is served together with 3 types of dipping sauce – Congo Bongo, Mango Chilli Marmalade and Housemade Chili Sauce. The chicken is crispy, tender and moist. But I was hoping that the spices on the batter can be stronger. The spicy level of the dipping sauce varies and some can be really spicy for those with a lower spice tolerance. This dish was enjoyable, I mean, it is indeed a piping hot, crispy battered chicken. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I expected in an African-themed restaurant due to the lack of spices in the batter
We also ordered Maharagwe (SGD 28), an East African bean stew dish from the brunch menu. It is an interesting combination of spiced bean stew with coconut milk and smoked pork sausage.
The flavourful dish reminds me of Indian masala curry (there is paneer in the stew too!). It is very substantial, probably due to the large amount of beans in the dish – I think this dish is great for sharing. The dish also comes with chapati which you can soak up with the spicy stew and enjoy!
Another dish we tried was Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew (SGD 28) — I really like this dish. The stew is so packed with bold flavour. The Sakura chicken thigh was well marinated and succulent. While we didn’t really taste any strong peanut flavour from their natural peanut butter, this stew carries a nice hint of spices and is thick, creamy and rich. I love the distinct flavour of the spices and the fiery kick of habanero — great to pair with their fluffy Jasmine white rice!
For dessert, we had Malindi Halwa — a Swahili mochi made of dragonfruits, nuts and spices. Halwa, or Halva(h) is a traditional Indian and Middle Eastern sweet dessert. It is a chewy, bouncy and gelatinous cube usually made of tapioca or corn starch.
Here at Kafe Utu, they serve their rendition of Halwa made of dragon fruit juice, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, macadamia, pistachio and Malindi spices. I love the sweet floral hint from the Halwa. It isn’t overly sweetened and matches really well with the light coconut yogurt. The dukkah filo pastries added a nice crisp to the dish too! Overall, it is a light and refreshing “mochi” dessert to complete the meal.
I really like the atmosphere and warm service at this African-themed cafe. It was beautifully done up, and I loved that the waitress share about the food we enquire on the menu so warmly and bubbly. While some of the dishes aren’t what we had imagined them to be, they are all very yummy and enjoyable still. And I look forward to revisiting this place again when I can finally take my alcoholic drinks. There are also a few other dinner dishes which I really wanted to try out. If you love the vibrancy and rich taste profile from the spices and are looking for a place with a chilled and happy vibe, you’ll love this place!
12 Jiak Chuan Rd, Singapore 089265
Tel. +65 6966 3937
WED- THUR, SAT – SUN :
10AM – 5PM | 6PM – 11PM
10AM – 3PM
CLOSED ON MONDAYS & TUESDAYS