Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • April-May 2024 • Circulation 5000


Rayyan East African Restaurant

Great portions, flavours, and value.

A table full of food at Rayyan East African Restaurant. Alan Schietzsch

Rayyan East African Restaurant
10019 106 Ave NW
Open 7 days a week, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Although it’s been in our neighbourhood for about a year, not many people seem to know about Rayyan East African Restaurant. Well, that’s about to change!

Rayyan has a friendly atmosphere, incredibly generous portions, and surprisingly low prices: three of us left after a huge meal, with delicious meats and rice for the next day’s lunch, for under $60! When you can enjoy such fabulous food for an incredibly low price at a restaurant staffed by a charming and generous Somalian-Kenyan family, it just has to be experienced.

Rayyan’s modern and bright space was previously occupied by a Chinese bakery, located kitty corner from Hope Mission, in the shadow of the EPCOR Tower. It’s spotlessly clean, and you are welcomed in a warm and very casual style.

The owners, Noor and Jamal, are a father and son who started the restaurant together about a year ago, naming it “Rayyan” after a family daughter. The family is mixed Somali and Kenyan, so their cuisine combines the generous portions of meat or fish with rice and/or several types of bread that are typically Somalian, with dishes borrowing a touch of the Kenyan seasonings and spices to make Rayyan’s cooking a very flavourful and unique blend – the best of both nations.

Somali meals are often protein-based. Fish, goat, beef, lamb, or chicken is fried in ghee or grilled or broiled. It is lightly spiced with turmeric, coriander, cumin, and curry and is eaten with basmati rice that has added onions, sweet peppers, and even a few raisins for a touch of sweetness. If you like Indian food, some of the flavours will seem familiar, but not nearly as dominant, as they’re more subtly used. You will also taste Persian influences, as well as Arabic notes and more, giving the rice an extra kick of flavours. The coast of Somalia has traded with all these regions for centuries, so the blend of flavours has been developed over a long history and has become outstanding.

For just $17, the food comes as a set meal. It’s prefaced with a small bowl of a brothy soup, and next you get a complimentary salad – and then the waiter arrives with a big platter of Somali style rice or pasta (much of the Mareeg coastal region of eastern Africa was an Italian colony, so pasta became part of the cuisine) or your choice of several types of flat bread: there’s Canjeero, a traditional Somali bread, as well as Mandazi (fried bread) and Muufo, a flat bread similar to an Indian chapati.

The food just keeps arriving. Then you see and smell your choice of kind of meat (beef, lamb, chicken, or goat) or one of four kinds of fish, or shrimps – so much food! And for a drink, try the mango which goes well with every Somali dish. There’s even a cinnamon spiced tea.

Our party of three hungry adults ordered the grilled fish, a lamb shoulder, and the breaded chicken (less greasy than most places, and a very comfortable introduction for children or those who are “scared” of trying something new or seasoned with spices – even my English mum would have totally enjoyed it!) The food is so good and the portions are great, with lots for leftovers.

Rayyan is an exceptionally friendly place in McCauley for some great East African cuisine. The food they put in front of their customers is delicious, filling, very affordable, and representative of their Somali-Kenyan heritage and identity.

Alan lives in McCauley. He is the Chair of the paper’s Board of Directors.

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