I love it when people have the courage to follow their dreams. That is what Thomas Nguyen did when he walked away from a successful career as a lawyer to do something different. He was not quite sure what it was at the time, but he knew being in the legal field wasn’t it. So when I say, “It seems it was written in the stars for Thomas and Chef Paul Friedman to meet”, it doesn’t sound cheesy; because both men had large dreams for their lives.
Chef Paul’s dreams started at the age of twelve when he was on a field trip and witnessed a pride of lions sitting under an Acacia tree having lunch. After many years later owning and working in restaurants all over South Africa, Europe, and the United States, his dream was finally realized when he and Thomas (there is also a third partner Michael) opened Peli Peli in the Vintage Park Shopping Center (in Northwest Houston). Serving up a cuisine known as South African fusion, Peli Peli can be best described in one word…flavor! Peli Peli means Bird’s-Eye Chili, which is a spice used in South Africa to prepare marinades and sauces.
Peli Peli restaurant is a true labor of love that brings the taste and flavors of Chef Paul’s homeland of South Africa to life. They are one of the only South African restaurants in Texas. So, staying current and on top of trends is very important and a must for Chef Paul. One of the ways he ensures this is by traveling back home every year.
During our recent visit to the restaurant, we got the opportunity to experience just what they meant when they say “flavor”! One of the things that stood out as we tasted dish after dish is the fact that the seasonings and marinades are truly the key to the dishes! They were used to enhance the flavors; not to cover them up. Take the Bobotie, one of their signature dishes and one of our evening favorites, for instance. Chef Paul’s version of this dish is an English cottage pie with a unique South African twist…this one got a double yum!
Many of the dishes are slightly complex, and it’s easy to want to remove something or just put it on the side. However, all the components of the dishes are paired together to create a uniform flavor. If you take away any components of the dish, you change the dish. The solution…they would recommend you change your overall selection instead.
We found the restaurant to be uniquely different, and you know we LOVE that. One of their missions with the restaurant is to bring people into a place to be fed naturally and spiritually at the same time.
110 Vintage Park Blvd
Houston, TX 77070
Urban Swank did receive a complimentary tasting, but the opinions expressed are our own.