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Chinese food finds fans in Ethiopia

Updated: 2021-11-05 08:03 ( Xinhua )
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ADDIS ABABA - Zhou Tao, a 34-year-old native of Beijing, runs a restaurant in Addis Ababa, offering a variety of Chinese cuisine to fellow Chinese expatriates and a growing number of non-Chinese customers.

The restaurant, named Xinjiang Restaurant Zhua Fun, is considered to be one of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in Addis Ababa, situated in close proximity to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

"Recognizing the increasing demand for Chinese dishes from the rising number of Chinese people in the city, I, in consultation with my wife, decided to open a Chinese restaurant here 10 years ago," explains Zhou.

The restaurant offers about 200 Chinese dishes with special focus on Xinjiang cuisine, including fresh noodles, Chinese-style barbecue, poached sliced beef with hot chili oil, kungpao chicken and fried fish, among others.

"We know which dishes are most favored by our Chinese customers, depending on the provinces they come from and their eating habits," says Zhou, adding that Chinese cuisine is also gaining popularity among Ethiopians. "About 70 percent of our customers are Chinese nationals while foreigners and local customers make up the balance."

Wang Xianjun, another Chinese expatriate and a regular customer in Zhou's restaurant, says the restaurant helps him and his colleagues, who work in the Eastern Industrial Park on the outskirts of the city, ease their homesickness.

"I had been eating Ethiopian dishes, including those featuring raw meat, in local restaurants until I discovered some Chinese restaurants, which are now flourishing in different parts of the city," says Wang.

Hermela Fanna is one of a growing number of Ethiopians with a taste for Chinese cuisine.

"It was my first time eating Chinese food and contrary to my assumptions, I found it very tasty," says Fanna, who shared a spicy chicken dish at the restaurant with her colleagues.

Fanna drew similarities between some Chinese and Ethiopian dishes, maintaining that both cuisines have a spicy taste and similar ingredients.

Amid the growing interest for Chinese cuisine, savvy Ethiopian entrepreneurs are now engaging in the Chinese restaurant business, largely serving foreigners and local people.

Rediet Mekete opened her Chinese restaurant named Little China five years ago and currently runs four branches in different parts of Addis Ababa.

Mekete says her ambition of opening a Chinese restaurant in Ethiopia began in Central China's Hunan province where she found the food to be enjoyably spicy.

"I had to return to Hunan for a second time to learn Chinese food catering," Mekete recalls. "I found Chinese dishes very tasty the first time I went to China. I learned about Chinese cooking from my Chinese friends who own restaurants there.

"Some Chinese foods are easy to make and are like fast food. They are spicy and salty and Ethiopians like them most," she adds.

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