I am ashamed to report that I am truly uncultured in the ways of sushi. I had my first ever piece at some dodgy market in Brisbane, Australia and it was gross. Determined to try it again, the second time I ate sushi was at Sakae here in Kigali and I was a fan. Their Alaska Roll is my go to dish at Sakae and I, with my limited sushi experience, was quite happy. Throw in a few trips to small sushi places in various countries and the occasional bad life choice of buying airport sushi and that’s my experience in a nutshell.
So when Kiseki Japanese opened its doors, I was intrigued but not massively crazy to add more landlocked Kigali sushi to my eating resume. I’d heard from quite a few people that the prices were very high for food and drinks and that you didn’t get a lot with each order, so I wasn’t in a huge rush to go. But then Kiseki started offering 50% off deals and it seemed like a no-brainer that this would be a great time to give them a try.
So I went to Kiseki with low expectations of big prices, small dishes, and mediocre Kigali sushi. But I have to admit that I was totally wrong. I was very impressed with everything about Kiseki! Sure, the prices are high if you go there without the discount, but the food was wonderful and the quality excellent. Actually, let me rephrase that – I’m told the quality is excellent.
Luckily for me and my uncultured Japanese food palate, I was dining with my friend (and awesome Living in Kigali co-writer) Leah whose mother grew up in Japan. She’s spent countless summers in the country and knows her stuff so I was eager to get her take on everything. The first thing she mentioned was that she’d have to ask what type of generator they had to make sure they’re able to keep their freezers and refrigerators pumping during power outages. They passed that test, so we settled in with a couple of glasses of sake and perused the menu.
Then with the help of Mio, the very friendly owner, Leah chose basically all of the food. This made me very happy because, as I mentioned, I know nothing beyond Sakae’s Alaska Roll. On this trip we opted to stick mostly with the sushi and rolls and a couple of starters but the meat dishes and teppanyaki have me looking very forward to my next trip there. Rolls are more of my thing as I like the combinations of a few different tastes crammed into one bite. The sushi rolls are huge and definitely take more than one bite and Leah’s one complaint was that the rice could have been packed more tightly as the rolls fell apart pretty quickly on the first biting attempt. Since I’m one of those classy people who shovels sushi in with my hands, I didn’t really notice.
Rolls are four pieces and cost Rwf 8,000 which without the 50% off discount is very pricey but with the discount, it’s is a great deal. They have California, crispy shrimp, Karaage chicken, crab stick and vegetable (Rwf 6,000) rolls to choose from. The crispy shrimp we tried was the favourite. You can also choose from tuna, salmon, and scallop sashimi for between Rwf 20,000 and 24,000 for eight pieces.
Kiseki also offers a good selection of nagiri (with the log of molded rice under a piece of sliced fish) but one of the things that was a bit shocking to me about the prices at first was the idea that one piece could cost Rwf 5,000. It seems a bit crazy to pay that much for two bites but Mio explained that the premium sushi is cut more thickly – which means more fish, so I guess that makes sense. We opted for the regular nagiri at half the price and what came out was pretty much what we’d have expected. A normal-sized piece of nagiri totally is worth the Rwf 1,000 to 3,000 price tag (and a great deal at 50% off). The tuna nagiri comes either raw or very lightly seared and it was my favourite thing that I ate that night.
Kiseki also have a great selection of sides. The kakiage (Rwf 5,000) is a really delicious plate of crispy tempura vegetables served with a nice dipping sauce and a pile of salt. If seaweed is your thing then be sure to try the Wakame salad (Rwf 6,000). They also have a good selection of meat and veggie if sushi isn’t your thing. You can order the classic Japanese dish of Karaage fried chicken (Rwf 9,000), veggies with sesame seeds (Rwf 4,000), fried rice with vegetables and egg (Rwf 8,000), donburi rice bowls with either Karaage chicken (Rwf 10,000) or tempura vegetables (Rwf 8,000). Kiseki has a lot of vegetable choices so makes a nice spot for a vegetarian.
Kiseki have a few teppanyaki tables that can be reserved for groups, but they’ll also use the hot plates for preparation even if you’d prefer to sit at a regular table with a smaller group of people or if you’re the only person that wants a teppanyaki dish. It’s actually hard to resist when the smells of the cooking meat waft over to your table. We tried the chicken teriyaki teppanyaki which was generously smothered in a delicious sauce. At Rwf 12,000 regular price, though, I wouldn’t be too happy with the small portion. At Rwf 6,000 with the 50% off discount it’s certainly fine.
This 50% off discount thing is great but it makes me wonder what people who don’t know about the deal think of the prices. Or what happens when Kiseki decide that the deal is over? It seems sort of a bummer that I’d only ever be able to afford to eat here with the discount and if/when the discount ends, so will my trips to Kiseki, sadly. Well, I guess it would change what I ordered and the chicken teriyaki would, unfortunately, not be worth it for Rwf 12,000 for a small plate.
Kiseki isn’t really the sort of place you’d come for a boozy night out. All of their beers are a staggering Rwf 3,000 per bottle and their magical discount doesn’t apply to alcohol. Wine is reasonable at Rwf 5,000 a glass which is about average for a good restaurant in Kigali. They do have a very nice selection of sake (both by the glass and by the bottle), a drink I really know nothing about so it’s nice to try new ones. You can order a sake tasting course for Rwf 30,000 which seems like a good way to get a nice introduction to the drink. I really loved the Kikusui squeezed peach sake (Rwf 8,000) which was really flavourful and refreshing.
Kiseki is a place that’s all about enjoying a great meal, sipping on some sake, and soaking up the relaxed atmosphere. over a long dinner. I love that the teppanyaki tables are on full display and that the chef works from a station inside where you can see him do his thing. Mio, the owner, is always on hand to answer any questions and to give that extra feeling of being welcome. I really like restaurants like this where the chef or owner are around to greet you and it’s a nice touch at Kiseki as well.
They’ve also recently introduced sushi burritos and burgers. These are two things I’ve never even heard of! After watching a video they posted to their Facebook page, it looks like the ‘burrito’ is a maki roll that hasn’t been chopped up into pieces. You can get Teriyaki chicken or vegetable for Rwf 5,000 (or Rwf 3,000 for half) or crab stick for Rwf 6,000 (Rwf 4,000 for half). This is probably one of the healthiest lunch options in Kigali and I’m looking forward to trying it!
I’m a really big fan of this place, as you can probably tell. However I’m not sure I’d be able to afford to eat here if it weren’t for the 50% off discount so it kind of scares me that Kiseki will get me hooked on their great food and atmosphere, only to remove the discount and make me sad. But, as it stands now, the discount makes this amazing place affordable and I plan on taking advantage of this for as long as I can.
Have you tried Kiseki yet? It’s always busy each time I go so I know plenty of other people love this place too. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Hours: Lunch, Noon – 5pm, Dinner, 6pm – 11pm (Last order at 10pm), Closed Monday
Phone: 0781 403 829