Photo Credit: @AyahAdventurer
Dining At Lisbon's Best Mozambican Restaurant
Last year, I interviewed Chef Jeny Sulemange, co-owner of Lisbon’s Mozambican hotspot Cantinho do Aziz. The family-owned and operated restaurant opened its doors in the 80s and has been serving the best Mozambican food in the city ever since.
As Chef Jeny described the cuisine of her beloved homeland and the dishes she expertly prepares, my mouth began to water. An African, Portuguese, and Indian fusion? Yeah, that sounded right up my alley.
Portugal had been on my bucket list, but when I came across a flight deal to Lisbon that was too good to pass up, it shot right up to the top. I immediately thought of Cantinho do Aziz and knew I had to stop by and get a taste for myself while in town.
Cantinho do Aziz is located in Lisbon’s Mouraria neighborhood, the former Moorish Quarter. A culturally rich and diverse area, it is said to be the city’s last ungentrified neighborhood.
Mouraria is home to a large immigrant population comprised of more than 50 nationalities, including families from former Portuguese colonies like Mozambique, Brazil, Cape Verde, and Angola, but also with significant populations of Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Chinese, and many more.
My husband and I went in the evening for dinner. Our Uber driver let us out and directed us down a long set of stairs much like others you find throughout Lisbon. We turned right at the bottom of the staircase and there we were.
It was a warm evening, so we opted to sit outside. We were promptly seated and provided menus by a friendly hostess, growing more excited as we read the accolades from various publications written on the yellow wall beside us:
“Cantinho do Aziz is the best restaurant in Lisbon.” -Bon Appetit
“The best new restaurants in Lisbon.” -Saveur Magazine
“The best African food in town.” -Daily Mail
“Makoufe-best dish in Portugal, 2015.” -Time Out
Looking over the menu, it was hard to decide what to order since everything sounded so good. Our attentive and patient waiter, Mohammad Tariq, helped us figure it all out. To drink, we opted for the Mozambican Iced Tea, which was sweet and refreshing, served with various fruits inside.
For our appetizers, we chose the Spicy Chicken Wings and Chamussas–one chicken and one beef. A Portuguese version of samosas, they were indeed tasty, filled with moist, flavorful ground meat and fried golden and crispy on the outside.
My husband is a lover of very spicy food while I prefer mine a little more on the milder side. The wings were spicy enough for him to enjoy and only made me a little teary-eyed. Well, either it was the spice or I was crying because they were gone too soon. Either way, they were a hit with us both. I really wanted to order more, but knew I better save room.
Next, it was time for the main event–the entres. I ordered Miamba wa Macua. Shrimp and plantain in a coconut sauce served with rice, the dish is a favorite among both locals and food critics. After cleaning my bowl completely, I can now add mine to the many glowing reviews.
My husband had the Lamb Chacuti, tender lamb in a dark coconut sauce served with coconut rice. He is a major foodie and not easily impressed, yet he hailed it as the best dish he had during our time in Lisbon.
For dessert, we had the Passion Fruit Mousse and a slice of Bebinka. A homemade layered cake with origins in Goa, India, the cake reminded me a lot of the old-fashioned Southern bread pudding my grandmother used to make. It brought back pleasant memories and paired nicely with the light and creamy mousse that was sweet and slightly tangy.
The entire meal was delicious and left us full and satisfied. Cantinho do Aziz definitely lived up to its hype and after visiting and tasting their food first-hand, I can say that all the praise is much deserved. I highly recommend checking this spot out when in Lisbon. The restaurant also has a location in Leeds, England and holds pop-ups around NYC.
Visit www.cantinhodoaziz.com for updates and follow @cantinhodoaziz and @chefjenysulemange.