In the suburbs of Brooklyn, along a busy main street is a small casual take away restaurant. Tucked between a dog hotel and a hairdresser, is Peri Peri Grill House – the South African inspired chicken shop that is taking on New York City, one crispy chicken wing at a time.
Owners Sohaib Malik and Ruschke Snell-Malik were blown away recently when their restaurant was listed in The New York Times newspaper and highlighted by writer Mahira Rivers as a Critic’s Pick restaurant. The high honour has delighted their loyal fans, as well as attracted attention from home and even further.
The NYT’s restaurant critic, Rivers, seemed entranced and delighted by the idea of flame-grilled chicken – something that Americans are not used to. They write, with a touch of awe “Chicken wings, for example, are flame-grilled, with the blackened bits to prove it, and slicked with peri peri sauce that hums with citrus and spice. But the smoke is what sticks with you.”
Rivers tasted many of the menu items, but it was the lamb chops that really stood out, “The generously thick chops are coated with a hybrid spice blend before they hit the grill…Mr. Malik doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into selling grilled lamb chops, but he could probably make a good living at it.”
Ruschke, a born South African, told Food24, “I clearly remember the first time I took Sohaib to Nando’s, his words were “Wow! How have I not tried this before?” Of course, being the visionary that he is, he saw something missing in the New York market, and knew that people would love this unique flavour over here.”
Peri-Peri grill house is buzzing with hungry customers, who love the spicy flavours and the Halaal offering in a city that doesn’t often cater for Muslim diners.
“We set out on the mission to introduce New Yorkers to the unique spice blend that is Peri Peri, and reunite expats and travellers alike with the irresistible spice that they’ve already come to love.”
Nando’s restaurants and sauces are familiar to South African’s, and has earned plenty of success overseas too. With branches in the UK, Middle East, Asia and Mauritius their tasty chicken meals have many famous fans, including Prince William.
Ruschke told us, “While Peri Peri Grill House was very much inspired by Nando’s, which we absolutely believe is such a great brand, we’re not trying to replicate them.” Rather, this seems to be a nostalgic and respectful homage to the flavours of home.
So what’s next for the team behind this little firecracker of a restaurant? Perhaps an expansion? Ruschke just smiled and answered, “New York is such a diverse city, with so many opportunities, and we’re excited to see what the future has in-store for Peri Peri Grill House.”
If you’re visiting New York, you can find the Peri Peri Grill House at 235 Malcolm X Boulevard, Bedford-Stuyvesant. If you can’t find it, just look for the clouds of spicy smoke coming off of the flame grill and the queue of hungry New Yorkers.
Images courtesy of Caitlin Ochs for The New York Times.