Flame grilled butterfly cut chicken breast marinated in PERi-PERi. That was my first taste of the famous South African restaurant chain called Nando’s. It was at their Pearl branch, in Medina Centrale. And as a newbie expat that time, I was excited to try their world-famous PERi-PERi chicken.
The casual restaurant chain hails from South Africa and owes its popularity to their PERi-PERi. sauces, with the chilies grown in South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. These chilies are then mixed with fresh herbs and spices and then bottled up, resulting to the famous Nando’s sauces.
My friends were raving about how they love Nando’s. So, of course, I was intrigued. My heat tolerance, however, was not that thrilled. So I opted for the weakest: lemon and herb.
You can go high up to Extra Hot according to their PERi-ometer or go for the mildest Plain.
And that is how my love story with Nando’s Peri-peri chicken began.
Nando’s Doha Festival City Qatar
Fast forward to several branches later and countless chicken, I found myself invited to the opening of Nando’s newest branch located in Doha Festival City. (Grand opening on August 9, 2017)
Like the other branches, warm tones dominated the interiors with the lighted signage bearing Nando’s name serving as a beacon for hungry mall-goers. The wooden interiors are accentuated with bright colorful fixtures and furnishings, giving off a modern African ambiance. The walls are adorned with South African paintings. Clearly, this branch looks a bit more upscale than some branches here in Qatar.
Another eye-catcher was their very modern soda dispensers. A far cry from what other restaurant chains use – the usual Bag-in-Box dispensers. Theirs looks like something owned by the Jetsons. Or maybe I’m already out-of-date with the latest in the restaurant industry. Hehe.
Nando’s Food and Service
We were greeted by one of their friendly staff and asked first our drink orders after seating us at our preferred table. Hungry from work, we ordered our staple favorites and tried out their new Cataplana in three ways.
The food arrived succinctly, filling our whole table and we ate with gusto.
The Cataplana is actually the cookware used by the Portuguese for seafood dishes in the Algarve region. But since chicken is the star at Nando’s, three variations of PERi-PERi chicken goodness are served instead in the copper cataplana with cork underliner.
Of the three, I liked best the Cataplana Originale because of the vegetables, although I’m not a big fan of spicy rice. The black mushroom in Cataplana Porto was a good compliment to the PERi-PERi chicken as well. For those who love chickpeas and grilled peppers, you’ll surely be delighted with the Cataplana Algarve.
The Espetada Carnival didn’t let me down with the feta adding in creaminess to the flavorful and char-grilled chicken.
Although marinated for 24 hours (as they say on the menu), I can never eat Nando’s chicken without the addition of their sauces. A clever trick I must say, to get you addicted to these flavorful sauces to the rescue.
As for the side dishes, corn and char-grilled vegetables will always be a staple for me. And they can always be brightened up with the addition of a lemon and herb sauce. The coleslaw was a bit underwhelming though.
However, I really wish that they would offer Sweet Potato wedges or chips instead of the Sweet Potato mash.
We capped it all off with two desserts – Lotus Cheesecake and Natas. Although the Lotus Cheesecake was missing its scoop of ice cream, it still delivered with its creaminess although the cheesecake was a bit dense for me. The Natas (Portuguese custard tart) brought me back to the streets of Macao, because that’s where I first got my taste of the pastel de nata. The smooth custard with a soft flaky crust was a good way to relieve my palette of the heat from Nando’s PERi-PERi goodness.
Disclosure: Although I was invited by Nando’s all opinions and comments are still my own.
How spicy do you like your Nando’s?
LIKE IT? PIN IT!