Velisa's is the latest addition to what has now become a culinary oasis of multi-ethnic cuisine in East Africa: the Dar es Salaam restaurant scene. However, unlike other restaurants that serve their respective diaspora, Velisa's, is the prodigal son who has come home. The big question is, is this part of Africa ready for the return of her wild caribbean child?!
The establishment is situated right on the beach in a quiet residential area just north of downtown Dar es Salaam. It has an island feel and the owner has placed some subtle Jamaican themes in the decor. During my visit, proper reggae (you know, the kind that actually has something to say) was the sound canvass against which our dining was set. All of this created an atmosphere that lent itself well to a dining experience that was truly Caribbean… with just one exception… Velisa's serves Jamaican food haute couture! It was delightfully odd for me to see food that I've always classified as street food, actually being plated. I've never even thought about how one might consider presentation when serving oxtail, jerk chicken, and curried goat. I'm used to eating it out of a styrofoam tray! If you want to see how it's done, you'll have to go there and check it out for yourself.
Atmosphere and presentation aside, the food speaks for itself. I am of Jamaican descent and I also love to cook. The food I ate was the real thing and I especially loved the oxtail. Auntie Betty is a friendly and attentive host and she gave me, my wife, and our two boys an evening that we are eager to repeat.
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