It doesn’t want to force a message down your throat, but it hopes that by the time you leave you might have digested more than just dinner. Conflict Kitchen London wants to be a restaurant with a conscience.
The pop-up eatery, launched ahead of the International Day of Peace on September 21, is serving traditional food from Myanmar, Jordan and Peru to encourage discussions about the prospect of peace in those countries.
More than 100 people attended the first week of the three-week residency at Monikers, a space in East London. A mixed crowd of locals, foodies and nationals of Burma, the country now called Myanmar, got a chance to meet new people and try dishes including hincho, a spicy soup, and a chicken-and-coconut curry served with egg noodles. As the £35 three-course meal was being prepared, guests broke the ice with strangers, using conversation cue cards about everything from Myanmar’s largest exports to the number of years its opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, spent under house arrest.
They could also order themed cocktails, with a Negroni masquerading as a “Rangooni”, after the original name of Myanmar's commercial capital Yangon.
Debbie Riehl, an up-and-coming Myanmar-born chef and artist who conceived and prepared the dishes, said the restaurant catered to a number of needs.
“To talk about global issues over a meal? I just had to get on board with this,” she said. “It’s non-confrontational, people are having conversations about things, and exchanging ideas, thoughts, views, everything.”
The agendas for debate are far from rigid. On one table conversation soon swayed towards the topics of the Scottish referendum and the current state of music education in the UK.
On another, a pair of Burmese friends discussed how they had never attended such an event before and could usually share Burmese food only in one of the few Buddhist monasteries in the capital.