Sakae

Sakae

Why all the Asian fusion restaurants clutter together in Nyarutarama is a mystery, but the two best (read: only) options in Kigali are Zen and Sakae, both situated along the main road heading to the MTN Center. While Zen focuses on Thai-style dishes and have recently introduced Indian food (because, why not?), Sakae has a focused menu of Korean and Japanese food.

Let me start by saying that Sakae is one of my favourite restaurants in Kigali. It’s been open now for many years and it’s a great place to come for a reliably good meal with efficient service. It’s one of those places where you know the experience will be consistent each time you come. All of the meals will be available and will come out as expected in a usually timely manner. If you’re looking for a frustration-free evening out, this is for sure the place.

Sakae, Kigali

It helps that the setting is quite beautiful, too. The indoor area is a bit like a small, wooden, airport hangar of sorts. Also, they might have gone a little ‘IKEA on speed’ on the Japanese lamps, but otherwise the wooden decor is soothing and calming and everything else Asian fusion is supposed to make you feel. Combined with a giant pot of green tea, you are likely to lull yourself into coma. And who doesn’t love a good coma once in a while? The space is and when it’s not too busy it can feel a bit lonely in there. But Sakae is a very popular place so that rarely happens. The booth seats at the side are a nice touch and seating in the middle section can be arranged to accommodate large groups.

If you do go as a group, I’d recommend booking one (or more) of their teppanyaki tables for a meal cooked right in front of you on a hot plate that’s as much a performance as it is food preparation. For me the best spot at Sakae is at one of the outside tables on a warm, clear day. The garden part of the restaurant has a great view across the valley to Remera and they’ll also usually have the fire pit going which adds an extra kick to an already nice atmosphere.

Sakae, Kigali

I’ve never been much of a fan of Korean food. I’ve tried, and I’ve failed. Something creeps me out about fermented food and I’m not much of a tofu person. I know there’s a lot more to Korean food than that, but… meh. Maybe one day I’ll get there! I do have plenty of friends who love Korean, so I’ve seen a few of Sakae’s dishes on my shared table over the years. One of the most impressive is their bibimbap, a bowl of rice topped with Korean-y things and a fried egg. It comes out in a steaming hot bowl and it’s a huge portion so if you’re hungry you’ll be happy.

For me, Sakae is all about their sushi. The Alaska Rolls (Rwf 10,500), to be specific. I’m also not a massive fan of Japanese food in general (seriously, what’s wrong with me) but I do love sushi. I’m no connoisseur, but I’m always perfectly happy with the sushi I get from Sakae. Some people get sketched out but raw fish in a landlocked country but I’m totally ok with that and Sakae has never ceased to impress with their sushi, sashimi, and rolls.

Sakae, Kigali

If you’re looking for a quick and easy lunch option, try their Lunch Box with tempura, sushi, beef/chicken, and marinated tofu, and octopus. It was supposed to come with a pancake, but I never got it. By the time I was done eating, I was too full to think about it, but it did dawn on me later. Service screw-ups are fairly rare at Sakae so the missing pancake was quite a surprise.

One of my favourite things about Sakae is the complementary Miso soup and the little avocado salad they give you as free starters. The chicken teriyaki dish with the rice, soup and salad might have been enough for two people to share. Plus it was served on a sizzling, iron cat which is odd but awesome.

One mysterious thing that bugs me is that they don’t appear to have any women working for them. At all. Out of a staff of at least 15 people. I’ve never seem a women working here in the seven years I’ve been going. Does anyone know what that’s all about? Is that even allowed?

If you can look past the fact that they don’t appear to hire women (which when I think about that more, makes me annoyed at them), Sakae is one of the best restaurants in Kigali and you won’t regret a meal here. I hear people complain about every restaurant at least once in awhile but Sakae seems to be that one place that escapes everyone’s wrath, and that’s because they just do things right.

Hours: Monday to Saturday: 11:30pm – 3pm & 6pm – 11pm, Closed Sunday
Phone: 0784 578 435 / 0784 577 738
More Info: Sakae on Eating in Kigali

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About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.