Zulu Piri Piri Chicken Grille delivers African fusion in Lehi
If the name Zulu Piri Piri Chicken Grille doesn’t intrigue you all on its own, the restaurant’s self description should definitely help: Utah-based African fusion, fast casual.
We weren’t sure what to make of that before stopping in for a visit at the new Lehi restaurant on a recent Monday night. It turns out that the menu’s secret weapon is a marinade derived from African Bird’s Eye (Piri Piri) peppers. The restaurant’s specialty, grilled chicken, is purportedly tenderized in the marinade for 48 hours to give it its unique flavor.
Details, details ... the important thing is does it pass the taste test, and the answer is a resounding yes.
First things first. You order at the front counter of the restaurant and then find your own table. There is a large menu board above the counter with all the offerings. We found this a tad difficult to read. When you lean back against the dividing wall separating you from the main room, the menu above was at an angle that made it hard to get a good look at. Maybe it was just us.
We placed our orders and staked out a table. The dining room looked to seat about 60 people — mostly in tables of four, with one larger booth. Additionally, there was seating for 32 on an outside patio, which would actually be pretty perfect this time of year.
While waiting for our orders, we enjoyed reading up on the restaurant’s meal-for-a-meal program, which was detailed on a large sign near our table. Basically, for every meal served at the restaurant, there is money donated that is turned into a meal or opportunity for an orphaned or otherwise vulnerable child in Africa. At the time of our visit, there were already nearly 5,000 meals generated under this program.
When our food did arrive, we were immediately impressed with the presentation. All the orders were served on nice plates with silverware and made a highly visual impact. (None of those foam plates and plastic utensils here.)
As for visuals, my Chicken Sandwich order came with a side of fries — but the fries were multi-colored and cubed. Not only that they were absolutely delicious!
The Chicken Sandwich was the favorite item we sampled, so I chose well. The Chicken Sandwich features grilled or fried Piri Piri chicken, Muenster cheese, caramelized onions, arugula, avocado and Piri Piri aioli. It was served on two wedges of a house-made bun. You have the option of adding bacon for 99 cents more — and that is an option I’d choose anytime. It was all fantastic. You can also order it as a wrap, if that’s your preference.
The Chicken Bowl was another favorite. It of course included the specialty chicken, grilled corn, arugula, avocado, cucumber and Piri Piri aioli, and is served over African yellow rice.
We also sampled the Boneless Chicken Breast, which came with the African yellow rice. The rice seemed a bit dry — which may be exactly as intended — but it was still very flavorful.
We also highly suggest the Piri Piri Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo, which offered a melange of flavors in one delicious mix. We would go back for that soup alone, but I am also intrigued to try the other soup on the menu: Butternut Squash. The soups are available in either the cup or bowl option, for the price of $3.99 and $5.99 respectively.
We ordered the African street corn as a side and it came on a large ear, drizzled with a cheesy sauce and sprinkled with a form of African pepper. We loved this as well.
As for the spiciness of the Piri Piri sauce — don’t worry, you can choose the level that suits you best. It ranges from savory lemon garlic, up to mild, medium, hot and African hot — the latter of which comes with an “Eat at your own risk” warning.
If this description intrigues you, stop on by for a meal, and help an African child in the process.