Kenyan Diaspora Fanaka Ndege Opens A Posh Restaurant in Minnesota


Kenyan Diaspora Fanaka Ndege Opens A Posh Restaurant in MinnesotaAfter years of serving musical hits to the people of Minneapolis, Kenyan rapper Fanaka Ndege, popularly known as Fanaka Nation, and his family will now serve the city’s residents exquisite Kenyan-themed dishes.

Officially launched on Saturday, July 9, the new restaurant, rebranded to Tamu Grill from Kilimanjaro Grill, stands on a 117-year-old building that had been vacant since 2018 when its former occupant, Vikings Bar, closed shop.

Built in 1905, the building was occupied by Viking Bar in 1959 for a period of 47 years before it shut down. The block remained vacant for another 10 years before the bar attempted a comeback in 2016. Its operations only lasted for two years.

Fanaka and his family first floated the idea of opening a joint at the same spot in 2021 by running trials in the months of November and December.

“It’s been cool meeting people in the community. I feel like half the time when people come in, it’s a college student walking around campus just curious to try something new.

“From my understanding, we’re the only Kenyan restaurant in the city,” stated Ndege noting that the meals would be prepared by Chef George ‘Jojo’ Ndege.

The menu of the restaurant contains East African cuisine such as Ugali, Samosa and mandazi among others. Jojo noted that he draws inspiration from the meals from his Nairobi culture and his work experience in a West African-themed eatery.

“I do this because I am passionate about making flavorful food that many can enjoy. I believe food is a great way of sharing cultures, elevating positive human interaction, and cultivating new friendships. I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, where I was exposed to Kenyan, Indian, and Middle Eastern food. I learned to make West African food at a restaurant I previously worked, my spouse is from Southeast Asia, and I now call Minnesota home.

“So, while my primary influence is Kenyan cooking, I incorporate all these other cultures that I have been privileged to be part of to create dishes that are uniquely a Chef Jojo creation and truly cross-cultural,” Jojo stated.

Fanaka, who gained traction after his remix of Cardi B’s massive hit ‘I like it‘, is a household name in the Minneapolis musical circles where he works, mostly, as a musical promoter and hosted a dance night that brought Kenyans together every first Saturday of the month with music genres such as genge, benga, and chakacha.

In a recent interview, Fanaka noted that he began rapping while in middle school before his father booked him studio time to make his first record.

“Although I’ve been doing music for over 10 years, I feel as if I’m just beginning in this game. In the words of one of my favorite rappers Nipsey Hussle “the marathon continues”.

“Thank you to resources in Minnesota like VoyageMinnesota for showing love to creatives like me that are representing for the 612,” he added.

Fanaka Nation charges between Ksh35,460 and Ksh70,920 to perform at a rap gig and Ksh59,000 for MC services.



Kenyan Diaspora Fanaka Ndege Opens A Posh Restaurant in Minnesota

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