【PR】Challenge for an Ex-Researcher with Two Children: Launching a Restaurant in Rwanda 〜Sizzling Plates Restaurant〜

Writer: Norihiro Takeda( @NoReHero

【PR】研究員からルワンダで中華料理店起業!二児の母の挑戦〜Sizzling Plates Restaurant〜

When we heard that a new Chinese restaurant opened in Kigali, we visited there at once. Though I was skeptical how a restaurant opened during the COVID-19, it was there in front of Kigali Arena, which was just constructed last year. 

Kigali Arena beside Amahoro Stadium

The name of the restaurant is Sizzling Plates. As there are already many other Chinese restaurants, I wonder what kind of restaurant this would be. I felt a sense of excitement and a little bit of anxiety, wondering if it would really be delicious. Anyway, let’s get in! 

Sizzling Plates Restaurant

Inside The Store:Rwanda Mixed with and Taiwan

When we stepped inside, red lanterns on the ceiling produced a Chinese atmosphere. The seats are made from the plastic table set of local beer “Mutsig,” which is often seen in Rwandan local bars. The fusion of Rwandan and Chinese culture created a unique mood.

Inside the restaurant

The owner, Ms. Teresa, is from Taiwan. When we greeted her and made an order, she said “I’m one of the chefs, so let me cook them now!” She entered the open kitchen and cooked for us with Rwandan staff.

Teresa cooks by herself too.

Outstanding Delicious Dishes

The first dish was sour and spicy soup(4000RWF).

Sour and spicy soup

At first glance it looks spicy, but it has a good balance of sourness and spiciness, and it is very easy to drink due to the accent of herbs. This is a taste that cannot be reproduced at home! For my wife, this soup was the favorite in the dishes.

The other dishes were brought in one after another.

  • Pan-fried dumplings(3000RWF, 10Pcs)
  • Taiwan Luroufan(5500RWF)
  • Mapo tofu(5500RWF)

Now we can eat authentic Taiwanese food in Rwanda!

My favorite was Mapo tofu, which was homemade tofu with a firm texture, cooked in a sauce with a complex taste with various spices. I could not stop eating. Here is a Taiwanese hamburger(3500RWF).

Take a big bite!

The soft buns on the outside and the simmered pork with sweet and spicy flavors go great together. To be honest, the quality of the dishes was much higher than I expected. Everything was delicious. The price is lower than the other Chinese restaurants, and the time to serve was quick (some restaurants in Rwanda have to wait about an hour). We will probably be loyal customers of this restaurant.

Then I asked the owner Teresa about her story. How was this restaurant created?

Only Half of a Year in Rwanda

The first thing surprised me was that Teresa had only been in Rwanda for a half year. I actually found that the menu was, and the decoration was not fully maintained inside and outside of the restaurant. However, for only having lived in Rwanda for six months, she has been very quick to prepare and start a business! 

Teresa talking enthusiastically

She came to Rwanda in January 2020 with two children to join a Japanese husband who already worked for the United Nations in Rwanda. After hearing that this property would be on sale, she immediately decided to buy it and opened the restaurant in May.

“Have you ever run a restaurant before?” I asked. Her answer was no. She used to study biochemistry and work as a tutor in a graduate school. She was not a professional cook until recently! At the age of fifteen, she left Taiwan and missed the tastes of her hometown, so she started to cook for herself. When she met her husband in Australia, she began cooking dumplings for him.

How She Started Her Business

When she came to Rwanda, she wanted to start a business by herself. One day her child had eczema so she started making soaps with natural materials. At the same time, she realized that natural foods were also important. So when the property went up for sale, she launched a Chinese restaurant that is healthy for everyone and does not use MSG.

That philosophy is reflected in the company name “Nanako Urumuri Healthy Life Ltd.” “Nanako” is derived from the names of her children, Nana and Koichi. And “Urumuri” means “light” in Kinyarwanda, which suggests providing gentle products for all people, including children, and leading a healthy lifestyle.

In the open kitchen right in front of the customers’ tables, you can see cooking scenes that you rarely see in Rwanda, such as the staff kneading dough with a rolling pin. Teresa said this reminds her of Taiwanese street food stands.

A staff member kneading dough with a rolling pin

Seeing cooking techniques that are unfamiliar to locals can be entertainment itself, and also contributes to the spread of Asian food culture. This will help Sizzling Plates Restaurant contribute to Kigali in multiple ways.

Launching under COVID-19

Her breakthrough is really surprising because she has achieved this quality within just six months since arriving in Rwanda. She employs a Rwandan manager who has been a friend of hers since before they started the restaurant, and she employs several other locals as well. Moreover, she has improved the quality of the dishes after much trial and error so that the customers can be satisfied.

When I asked “Didn’t you hesitate to open the restaurant even though there are few customers under COVID-19 situation?” she gave me a very clear answer. “Maybe it is my character. I always decide to do things fast. If I keep thinking I’ll think the negative side and be afraid.”

The Hardest Thing has been Talking to Customers

Because Teresa is such an energetic person, it may be surprising that the most difficult thing since opening her restaurant has been having conversations with customers. She didn’t feel confident talking to people who she was meeting for the first time, and initially she was worried about working in the restaurant every day. However, as a result of repeated conversations, some customers began to visit the restaurant regularly and tell her “OK Teresa, I feel like eating pork today, can you cook something for me?” She made a bright smile when she told us this story. 

This is not only a restaurant, but also a home.

We can understand from this story that Teresa wants Sizzling Plates Restaurant to be a place customers can feel at home, rather than a casual restaurant. Although it is a difficult situation under COVID-19 today, it will surely be a place loved by many in Kigali.


  • Sizzling Plates Restaurant
  • Place:Right in front of the entrance of Kigali Arena
  • Call:0789266138
  • Facebook page:Sizzling Plates Restaurant

It is convenient if we can order delivery service directly without using some apps like Vubavuba. I have already decided to order Mapo eggplant next time because it was so tasty. Why don’t you try it too?