Peli Peli – Tour of South Africa in the Heart of Galleria
South African cuisine from Peli Peli has arrived in the Galleria. Finally, a fine dining restaurant with a chef that isn’t afraid to spice it up! This is Chef Paul Friedman’s 58th restaurant and diners are treated to the pure and rarefied distillation of all of his culinary experience and wisdom. Hailing from Johannesburg, South Africa, Chef Paul delivers on his home city’s promise of multicultural cuisine.
A wonderful example is his award-winning signature dish called “Bobotie”, a version of the English Cottage Pie, infused with elements from Africa, India, France, and the Dutch. Each layer of this dish is unique and delicious, but when combined together, it forms a flavor greater than the sum of its parts. It is no wonder that this dish won him 1st place honors in the Wine and Food’s Chef of Chefs Competition. Every dish on the menu blends a number cultures, and unlike attempts by other fusion eateries, the flavors aren’t lost in a mishmash. They are bold. You know what you’re tasting.
The Peli Peli experience goes beyond food and drink. We had the pleasure of dining with Si Dang of Andria Design, the principal architect behind Peli Peli. He explained that the entire restaurant was created to evoke a sense of the African wilds, from the warm woods of the tables and the textured gypsum walls representing flowing sand dunes, to the softly illuminated translucent rock bar top. But the show stopper is most certainly the LED-lit ceiling, which not only gives a very open and airy “African sky” sense to the space, but also slowly shifts from dawn colors to dusk over the course of an hour. The concept is further enhanced by the patterns in the carpet below which represent light filtered through a canopy of trees.
Peli Peli is an experience through and through. Chef Paul is an absolute showman in both food and personality, and the restaurant is a wonderful reflection of South African culture. Both are welcomed additions to Houston and its ever-expanding foodie landscape.
For owners Thomas P. Nguyen, Michael Tran and Executive Chef Paul Friedman, the expectations are high and the restaurant is scheduled to open mid April.
By Sandeep Khandelwal