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Nando’s means peri serious business

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Nando’s means peri serious business

Ben Lipka

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The elusive Nando’s Peri Peri chicken, a staple restaurant in the United Kingdom, was introduced to America in 2008 and has been spreading since. Nando’s currently has about 1000 locations in 30 different countries, and over the past eight years the company has slowly introduced over 30 locations to the United States. Nando’s most recent location opened on Sunday, Nov. 13, in Old Orchard Mall across the street from Niles North High School.

I work at a summer camp which employs several hundred people from various countries, a majority coming from the United Kingdom and Australia. Something that seems to transcend differing countries, genders, political views, and lifestyle is an immense love for Nando’s Peri Peri chicken. After countless interactions where Nando’s has been praised, my interest was peaked and on Monday, Nov. 14, the day after the location opened, I went to test the assertions of brilliance I had heard so many times.

At first glance, Nando’s is a sleekly designed, trendy, and casual take on fast food that is seen in other high end fast food restaurants such as Chipotle and Noodles and Company. However, right away it is clear that Nando’s is culturally varied from its competitors in fancy fast food, drawing influence from South African and Portuguese themes in not only its aesthetics, but its food as well.

I ordered a medium-spiciness chicken breast with their signature fries (or chips outside of the United States). The food is a bit pricey for the portions you are getting when compared to its fast food chicken competitors, such as KFC or Popeyes, but Nando’s manages to distinguish themselves as superior quality than the latter two, making the prices seem less drastic.

While I waited for my food, I tried the impressive roster of sauces. The lowest spiciness level sauces were a lemon and herb and a garlic sauce, both of which were tasty, however I preferred the acidity of the lemon sauce; neither were spicy, however. Then there is medium, which was spicy but not overwhelming. People who do not like a lot of spice would enjoy this on their food. Next there was hot, which I found extremely spicy and would not enjoy eating an entire meal with. Finally, I tried the extra hot sauce for experimentation and actually found it less hot than some of the other sauces. Overall, the sauces are a large pull factor to the chain, and each offers a unique take on South African and Portuguese cuisine.

My food arrived, and I noticed that the employees have a facade of cheeriness, in a similar way that Chick Fil A workers do. I began eating, and the medium spice was very satisfying, and did not get too spicy even as I was close to finishing the chicken. The fries were a high point of the meal; the spices used on them added another level of flavor to the experience. The food was a bit small for what I payed, but I left full and contented.

The Niles North community also welcomed Nando’s with a fundraiser event on opening day for Dance Marathon. “It was a bit much price-wise. The chicken was good, and it tasted a bit like Greek chicken. The fries were great,” Sammy Schein, senior, said.

“I thought it was delicious. It was very different from anything I have had before. It had similar flavors to the Ethiopian food I’ve had, with something that felt like a Mediterranean twist,” Juliana Tichota, another senior, added.

Nando’s collection of sauces and overall uniqueness would definitely cause me to return. They also have a number of spins on chicken, salads, and kids meals. View their entire menu here. Nando’s is located in Old Orchard Mall, near the parking facing Niles North.

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Nando’s means peri serious business