There’s a shiny African gem that now sits on the edge of a quiet residential neighborhood in Killeen — literally. Sunugal, a restaurant that was once located on College Street has now opened up shop on Florence Road inside a hard-to-miss, highly-reflective silver building.
The decision to move was economically strategic for husband-wife team and restaurateurs, Ndeye and Elhadj Kante, who started cooking professionally in Killeen in 2013. Ndeye and Elhadj uprooted from Rhode Island to live in Killeen in 2013 to be closer to their daughter, also a local business owner, grandchildren and for the warmer weather.
The location switch took place about two months ago and resulted in a smaller space in comparison to the older location, but lowered overhead costs and increased its visibility and parking area. Sunugal continues to serve traditional Senegalese fare and Senegal culture is still aesthetically evident throughout the restaurant.
“All the things you see in here is just like the way they live in Africa — the traditional way — because now we’re modernized like here,” said Ehadj regarding the restaurant’s décor.
For those who still find African cuisine to be a mystery, Elhadj suggests trying the fataya (fried beef patties) or Senegal’s most popular dish, tiebu djeun (stuffed fried fish).
Fish, lamb, and goat with sauces made from cassava leaves, peanut butter, okra or tomato; and curries are also served at Sunugal.
“We have different cultures in Africa. We’ve been colonized by different European countries. And most regions take their cooking from the colonization. In West Africa, we’ve mostly been colonized by the French people so we cook traditional African, but we copy a little bit from Europeans. So that means most of our cooking, if you see it and taste it, it’s basically French but it’s African because we’ve mixed the cultures into one,” said Elhadj, who also noted that oral traditions in Senegal are disappearing as Senegal continues to mix English and French into its native language.
Chef Ndeye and Elhadj keep Senegal traditions they’ve developed over generations alive.
“In Africa you cook at an early age. She learned to cook from her mom, and her mom learned from her mom, by tradition. That’s the way we do it in Africa. She can close her eyes and cook because it’s a habit,” said Elhadj, regarding his wife’s culinary journey. He helps her cook, manages the business, and plays the role of delivery driver when requests are made. Elhadj has made personal food deliveries as far as Dallas. The couple also offers catering for events.
“Come discover us because we ... bring you a taste of Africa. And believe me, it’s a good experience if you can try. We cook fresh. You call, you order, we’ll make it happen,” said Elhadj.
Visit www.sunugalafricanrestaurant.com to learn more.