Vegetarians look away! There’s nothing for you in this article. As far as I know, brochettes places in Kigali concentrate purely on beef, goat, chicken and fish on a stick and haven’t yet branched out to include tofu on their menu. If, on the other hand, you’re the type who enjoys ripping meaty morsels off of a wooden spike then Rwanda is a good place for you to be because they do it well.
In fact I think brochettes (basically meat on a stick) is one of the few food items that defines Rwandan cuisine. Given that I can’t stand ugali or cooked bananas and that I’ve eaten enough rice and beans to last a lifetime, the mighty brochette is about the only food staple here I can stomach. You can order brochettes at most restaurants in Kigali but if you want them cheap and served up with a local flair then you’ll have to head to one of the many local bars in Kigali (often identified by brightly coloured the beer label paintings on the exterior of the buildings).
Brochettes at a local place will generally cost between Rwf 300 and Rwf 600 each. Ibiyari (friend potatoes) will be around Rwf 200 to for a whole potato. Bananas will usually be about Rwf 100 to 200 and beer at local places will usually be under Rwf 1,000 for a large Mutzig or cheaper for a Primus… although the coldness of the beer might not be up to standard. Sme places will give you a little side salad of cabbage and carrots and, if you’re lucky, a tomato and a glob of mayo (or you might actually be charged for mayonnaise). You can also usually order fries. In short, a night out for brochettes will be a cheap one.
Goat will be available almost everywhere you go with fish and beef also an option sometimes. Chicken is usually only a choice at restaurants. If you’re not a fan of eating goat’s stomach then keep an eye out for ‘izumubiri’ which is a favourite of many Rwandans and may sometimes appear on your meat stick. Some places will have amazing pili pili sauce, others will have especially tasty onions (although raw onions in Rwanda all seem to taste remarkably amazing), some will booby-trap their brochettes with pieces of liver, and some might have especially delicious bananas or potatoes (ibiyari) or super cheap, cold beer. You might find yourself eating at a brochettes place with beautiful views over the city or you could find yourself being crammed into a small concrete room with a few plastic chairs and a flickering neon light.
The brochettes themselves can be hit-and-miss. Some will be deliciously seasoned and tender with onion and green pepper interspersed with the meat and other places will offer up brochettes that you could be chewing on for 45 minutes each. Every self-respecting muzungu who’s been here for awhile will have their favourite brochettes place whose location will be jealously guarded and only shared with the most trusted of new friends. I have mine and my housemates have threatened me with being impaled on a brochettes stick if I ever divulge the location on this website.
Do your utmost to pee at home before departing for an evening of brochettes. If you go in armed with some toilet paper of your own and expecting the worst then you should be fine. Some places I’ve been to are horrifying and some are perfectly fine. Just a warning!
One thing is guaranteed on a night out for brochettes… your food will take at least an hour to come. Local bars aren’t known for being speedy with their service so having some good company, a laid back attitude and a few beers will go a long way towards having a good night out, Rwandan style. There are loads of brochettes places in Kigali to try and it makes a really cheap and fun night out. Get out there and explore and you’re bound to find your own super secret spot worthy of having your friends disown you if you give up the location.