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Central Standard

Food Critics: African Cuisine

Wikimedia Commons - CC

Over a decade ago, the National Restaurant Association issued a report stating that Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisines had become so popular, they had moved beyond the ethnic food category and into the mainstream. But less familiar culinary traditions are making an increasingly greater impact on how we eat in America. In Kansas City, for example, there are more opportunities to sample the cuisine of the African continent than ever before, and that's just what Charles Ferruzza and fellow food critics Mary Bloch, Chris Becicka, and Emily Farris will do.

One popular African restaurant in Kansas City is called Esther's African Cuisine. Esther Mulbah, the chef and owner of Esther's was born in Liberia, but moved to the United States in 1982, bringing her love of traditional West African dishes with her. The peanut stew is a peanut-butter based dish which can be served with or without meat. At Esther's, it comes with tilapia and the fufu root. For dessert, they've got a unique item called the purple pie which is made from purple sweet potatoes.

Credit Arnold Gatilao / Flickr - CC
Flickr - CC

However, when people typically think of African cuisine, their mind is drawn to East Africa and Ethiopian fare. Abraham Hadish recently opened Awaze which serves both African and Caribbean food. The restaurant's name comes from an Ethiopian spice called awaze. It's a berbere-based dish, mixed with honey wine, chili peppers, and other ingredients that will remain a Hadish family secret. For those uninitiated into African food, Hadish suggests trying either the doro wat or the shiro wat. Both are spicy stews, but the doro contains chicken and the shiro contains chickpeas.

Now, all that's left to do is to get out there and try some!

African Restaurants:

New and Noteworthy:


  • Abraham Hadish, Chef at Awaze
  • Esther Mulbah, Chef at Esther's African Cuisine
Central Standard Food & DrinkBest Food KC
Matthew Long-Middleton has been a talk-show producer, community producer, Media Training Manager and now the Community Engagement Manager at KCUR. You can reach him at Matthew@kcur.org, or on Twitter @MLMIndustries.