Thursday, November 15, 2018

Health First - or Treatment Later?

"Would you rather be proactive about your health, or be reactive as needed?"

If you pose this question, I highly doubt you'll find someone who'll select the latter (and if you do, I'd be very interested to meet them and learn more).


I think we all agree that it's important to be proactive about our health - physical health, mental health, emotional health - but when it comes to actually putting this into practice, we fail.

We are finally coming to a stage where it is more acceptable to talk about our health issues, and we are supported on these. I'm especially pleased to see many organisations, carrying forward the discussion on mental health issues and how we can support those around us (http://www.kenyannomad.com/2017/07/lets-talk-about-mental-health.html)

However, I firmly believe that we won't have as much impact as we'd like if we don't address prevention alongside supporting treatment.

Personally, I've tried to get more proactive about my health, and I think there's a lot we can do as individuals to be proactive, and as organisations and social units to support this proactivity. (Here is an article I had published about some of my own 'wellness rituals' - and I'd encourage you to give it a read: http://www.kenyannomad.com/2017/05/wellness-rituals.html )

I'm not a medical professional, and I would advise you to follow their advice when it comes to actual practices to put into place, e.g., a regular workout routine, regular checkups with your doctor, a healthy diet. You're probably also aware of a few no-regret things you can put into place like getting enough sunshine, finding time to laugh and be grateful, meditation, and reading, just to name a few.

What should you take away from this? As a person - it is ABSOLUTELY OKAY to say that you want to dedicate time and energy to self-care. As an organisation or social unit - you should try your absolute best to support those in your networks to help them understand that it is okay to do this!

What are some of the ways that YOU have committed to be proactive about your health, and ways that you've seen support for this from others? Do feel free to share!


Monday, November 12, 2018

CJ's: Restaurant Review

I've heard a lot of great things about CJ's Restaurant, in the CBD, but unfortunately hadn't had an opportunity to go there until very recently (who goes to the CBD for fun, right?), when I was in town for a few meetings over a few days - and managed to go a few different times for lunch!

CJ's is also that kind of place that has an amazing website - warning, their online menu has tantalising pictures! - so they'd kind of already endeared themselves to me before I went.

Two things I love about CJ's - despite being bang in the middle of Nairobi's CBD, they have a lovely, open ambience that's helped by the glass roof that lets in lots of natural light, and they have very friendly, attentive staff members.

I wouldn't call myself a regular (just yet) but I've already discovered my CJ's drink of choice - their peach iced tea. There's an option of getting this with some ginger juice (Kenyans loveeee ginger), but I prefer it without.

This peach iced tea is my new love. My bae if you will. If you ever need something from me, bring me one of these and your chances will be MUCH better!



On my first visit, I ordered chicken strips with masala chips, described as 'tender, juicy, breaded chicken strips served with honey mustard, french fries and coleslaw'. Honey, you had me at honey mustard...

True to their word, these WERE tender and juicy, and absolutely delicious! The honey mustard was a PERFECT complement. The masala chips were good, but not exceptional, so next time I get this I may opt for their regular french fries.


The next time, I got the chicken parmesan sandwich - described as 'tender chicken lightly coated in parmesan breadcrumbs, roasted green peppers, rustica sauce and melt'.

This too was - spoiler! - amazing, and definitely had a comfort food vibe to it. The chicken itself was delicious, the green peppers and rustica sauce blended with it perfectly, and the parmesan breadcrumbs were the absolute cherry on top!


In fact, I enjoyed this sandwich so much that the next time I went, and opted for the half and half (one half of your choice of sandwich, a cup of soup of the day with a small caesar salad), my sandwich of choice was the chicken parmesan.

This time, the soup was a lovely creamy Thai chicken noodle soup, which I'll definitely be returning for! The Caesar salad was fresh and crispy, and it had bacon. Who doesn't love bacon?!


Will I be returning to CJ's? Most definitely, and soon at that! In addition to their amazing food, service and vibe, their prices are also pocket friendly. Gotta run now - I find myself having this sudden, unexplainable craving for peach iced tea...

Monday, November 5, 2018

Afta Eats: Restaurant Review

Sunday brunch is a sacred ritual to partake in - and what better place to indulge than a place reputed to have amazing coffees, waffles and crepes (both sweet and savoury), as well as granola bowls and vegan crepes?

A few Sundays ago, I decided to check out Afta Eats with a friend for her birthday.


I love the light, open look and feel of the new wing at Village Market - part of it is almost food market-esque!

On this particular Sunday, Afta Eats wasn't that busy - surprising given all that I've heard about it, and that it was 11 am. They had a great, energetic playlist on, definitely something designed to get you up and about.

The only thing that could've improved the vibe of the place, in my opinion, would've been mimosas but - alas! - we managed to do without. The Afta Eats tables are definitely cute, with little infographics on various drinks in them. Their menus could use some upscaling though - they don't live up to the aesthetic of Afta Eats.

To drink, I got the chai latte, while my friend got a coffee.


The chai latte was unfortunately milky. Not bad, but not something I'd offer again unless they changed it.

Surprisingly, they didn't have chicken that morning. My friend and I decided to split a choco chip waffle, and a veggie crepe. I was a little suspicious about the latter - I'd gone in expecting meat - but this emerged as my favourite!



Surprisingly, the waffle was small! Definitely not the size I'm used to. However, this did not stop it from being ABSOLUTELY delicious. It was fluffy, not too sweet, and the strawberries were a perfect addition. I think this could absolutely be an amazing dessert!

The crepe - this was the surprise winner for me!! It contained a lovely medley of vegetables, and came with two different sauces - one spicy, one slightly tangy. It was perfectly spicy, with all the flavours of the vegetables coming through PERFECTLY! I'd definitely order this again (if I don't get tempted to try any of their others, of course), and would recommend you to as well. 




Do I plan on going back? Most definitely, yes!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Amani ya Juu: Restaurant Review

Although Nairobi is definitely a greener city than many others, it can sometimes feel like we are surrounded by concrete and construction, and personally this can be overwhelming at times! This is why I love going to restaurants like Zen Garden and the Arbor - the outdoorsy ambience serves to remind me that Nairobi is STILL more than your average concrete jungle.

I was super excited to learn that there's yet another restaurant I can add to my beautiful ambience list - Amani Ya Juu (or Amani Garden Cafe, not sure which is the correct name :) ). Amani ya Juu literally means 'peace from above', which I think is quite beautiful.  

When a friend suggested meeting here for lunch one warm Saturday, I naturally jumped at the chance!



To drink, I ordered their iced tea, which was quite lovely and refreshing in this weather! Also, my new thing is iced tea, especially flavoured.


For mains, I ordered a cup of tomato soup and grown up grilled cheese (it had salami, pesto and mozzarella), which came with a small side salad, while my friend got the Serengeti salad (mixed green salad with apples, honey roasted Macadamia nuts and a choice of bleu or feta cheese) and Nairobi nachos (ugali chips with salsa, corn salsa and guac).

Surprisingly, my waitress came to me and told me that they didn't have the tomato soup, so she had replaced it with the carrot and cashew soup. I was a little confused as to why she didn't ask me what I wanted instead, but thankfully I didn't suffer.

It was delicious and quite soothing (and I was definitely in need of soothing)! Not a combination I've ordered before, but one that I would definitely get again - and the crackers were a lovely accompaniment too.


The sandwich was lovely and light - I thought it would be heavier than it really was, so that was nice. The flavours blended together well, although the pesto was a hint on the bitter side, leading to it coming through stronger than the salami or mozzarella. Who doesn't love a grilled cheese sandwich though??

The accompanying salad was also great - largely thanks to the delicious poppy seed dressing it came with that was light and tangy. Do they sell this by the bottle, perchance?


The nachos were good, although they were quite hard! I can imagine they would be difficult for very young or very old people to eat these.



The Serengeti salad, in addition to looking delicious, definitely lived up to its aesthetic! I think I may try that next time - doesn't it look absolutely amazing? It was also accompanied by the previously mentioned dressing.



For however lovely their ambience is, I think the cafe can definitely improve on its service which noticeably on the slower side. Thankfully, it was a lovely day and we were in no hurry at all, so we didn't get too upset about this. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Grief and I


Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Grief. He has been walking with me since April and I do wonder when I may be left alone...

Is there an FAQ for losing someone? Asking for a friend - not Grief, but me this time.

It's been a little busy in my mindspace recently - you see, Grief is quite popular and since he started hanging out with me, he has all these other friends who've decided to join the party.

Confusion. Waking up and feeling like it may be an ordinary day - but something, somewhere feels off, what could it be? Confusion. Having those around our family think that we're doing fine - how can they not see?

Rage. She kind of roams around with no clear target - sometimes she's concerned with how modern medicine failed us, how they didn't detect how serious it was in time, how something, SOMEWHERE, might have saved my uncle.

Gratitude. 26 years - I had 26 wonderful years to learn from him. Cut short though they may be, I'm grateful for every single day of these.

Fear. Fear whispers in my ear - what if what if what if? What if you have to go through this again? This time you broke, slowly and surely. Next time, you will surely shatter, and there won't be any putting you back together.

Fearlessness. Strangely enough, Fearlessness and Fear have found a way to coexist. Nothing could ever be scary compared to the last few months, right?

Anger. So much of it. The future we got cheated out of. Sometimes, unjustifiable toward my other family, who got more time with him then I did - and immediately followed by

Shame. We all lost him. I don't get to prioritise my friend Grief over his cousins who've found homes with my family at this time.

Hope. She's the gentle hand on my shoulder, telling me to stay strong, to be strong, to be happy - because that's what he would want.

Hurt. So many conversations left unspoken, questions left unasked. Things that only Shiri uncle would know - moments where I forget, the past, the usual, comes rushing back, I think of picking up the phone and shooting him a quick message and then boom! Hurt reminds me of that which I dared to forget.

Weariness. She's the loner standing at the corner of this whole party whispering softly

I'm tired. I'm exhausted. When does this ever end?

Strength. He's the friend who has a direct connection to my support network and has managed to keep me going - keep us going - as this party goes on. I'm thankful, everyday, for his perseverance.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Lucca: Restaurant Review

Lucca, at the Villa Rosa Kempinski, Nairobi, is an Italian restaurant I'd long been meaning to check out, but never quite got around to. Naturally, when the opportunity came to go, I jumped at it! I've heard a lot of good things, so I was eager to check it out.

Friday night dinnertime found a friend and I at Lucca. I'd checked out their menu in advance, but of course, hadn't quite yet decided what I wanted. 

The ambience was warm and welcoming - think of a nicer deli vibe, which was comforting, especially considering this was still during Nairobi winter. The reception was also warm and welcoming - I was led to my well laid out table by a smiling server.


Their mixologist's creations looked very interesting! (However, I would recommend a quick spellcheck before they next print out their menu).


We opted for the Remy old fashion, and the Professor gin and tonic.

Professor gin and tonic

Remy old fashion
Both were amazing and refreshing, and I'll definitely be going back to try some of their other menu items!

To start off, as any respectable Italian restaurant should do, the restaurant provided a bread basket. Now, a well put together bread basket is enough to make me weak at the knees, and this one definitely didn't disappoint! Their specialty butters were also amazing and flavourful. 



For mains, we opted for the Gnocchi di patate con calamari e pesto di basilico (Gnocchi with pesto and calamari), and the Chicken breast with puttanesca sauce, polenta cake and sautéed chard (that doesn't need a translation, does it?) Strangely enough, they didn't have ravioli that evening!

Let's start off with the Gnocchi. This was, quite simply, amazing. It was creamy and flavourful, with a delectable combination of flavours that worked very well together without being overpowering. The calamari also came through very well, and didn't fit into my favourite category of seafood pet peeves - overly fishy. I'll definitely be back for this!


The chicken breast on the other hand was - well, bland. Even the picture I took was blurry, I was so disappointed! Definitely not something I was expecting at a restaurant I'd heard so much about. 

Overall verdict? I'll definitely be back to try more items on their menu - especially the drinks and the desserts, which we weren't able to get to. Despite the chicken, I did enjoy my experience, and would only urge that they apply their detail-oriented approach (think Gnocchi and drinks) to their WHOLE experience. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Haandi: Restaurant Review

If anyone asks me to recommend the best Indian restaurant in Nairobi, I'll definitely say Haandi. Hopefully this doesn't come as too much of a surprise to you, but if it does, or if you disagree, you're very welcome to change my mind! I'm always open to new experiences.

I don't go to the actual restaurant as often as I would like. Their ambience is lovely, but the location itself isn't too exciting.


It was a Sunday family lunch, and we were celebrating my parents' 39th anniversary (woo!), so you can imagine that we ordered quite a bit ;) In the interest of being true to what I write, I'll only cover the dishes that I personally tried out of those we ordered.

Before we begin - a huge kudos to Haandi for their service. We got great service and attention from our server as well as the manager on duty. The manager made sure to understand why we were there, gave us some lovely recommendations, and also helped us proactively adjust the portions we needed when it became clear that we had ordered (far) too much. Perhaps Haandi could think of getting wider tables? Punjabi families need all that space...

Another kudos for a website that is FUNCTIONAL and BEAUTIFUL! A personal pet peeve is going to an excellent restaurant with a crappy website - there's no reason you can't be excellent across all channels, is there?

I think I had a ginger ale or something, but my mum ordered a salty lime soda. It sounded hella weird, to be honest, but I think that's what I'll order when I go!! It had a lovely flavour and a delightful hint of mint. Plus, the salt was exotic not creepy if that makes sense?

To start off, we ordered the chilli paneer, the murg burra (boneless chicken tikka), and the lamb seekh kebabs.



To be incredibly honest - I've had better chilli paneer in Nairobi, even at Haandi itself! (Also, totally forgot to take a picture...)

The murg burra. Let's spend a moment here, shall we? Again. Without a doubt, I can say that this is the BEST boneless tikka I've had at a North Indian restaurant in Nairobi. The chicken was creamy and soft enough - think melt in your mouth. It was marinated exquisitely all the way through, and the chicken itself was great! Definitely a 10/10.


The seekh kebabs were great too - a little on the dry side, but good flavour, which sometimes restaurants completely fail to achieve when they're working with lamb.


For the mains, we ordered the malai kofta, dal bukhara, jeera chicken and rogan josh. I didn't try the malai kofta, but did manage to have a bite of all the rest.

First of all, the dal bukhara. It's been a LONG time since I've had a proper dal bukhara (black dal cooked overnight). This was amazingly done, with lovely flavours of ginger and butter too. Honestly, I wouldn't be opposed to ordering ONLY this and eating it alone the next time I go! Thanks for destroying stereotypes about vegetarian food having to choose between being healthy and being tasty, dal bukhara, you the real MVP.

Can you smell it yet?

The jeera chicken was perfect too. It's a personal favourite of mine, so there may be a little bias here - but I highly doubt it! I loved that the individual flavours of this dish were so perfectly subtle that they blended together perfectly! We got this medium spicy, but I feel like this dish could hold its own without that spice if it needed to.




Finally, the rogan josh. Again, forgot to take a picture here. Good - but didn't hold a candle to the chicken or dal!

We had these with naans and rice. The naans were soft, but not something I would eat alone. However, a perfect accompaniment to the dishes above.


After all this, we definitely had to take a meanwhile before heading home for some well-deserved cake!

Have you been to Haandi? What was your experience like?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Empathy and Compassion

Empathy and compassion. Empathy and compassion. Empathy and compassion.


Empathy and compassion. Empathy and compassion. Empathy and compassion.

It's an internal mantra I've been experimenting with this month, inspired by the person I'm lucky to call my best friend, rock and role model - and I'll be the first to admit, I had no idea it would be so hard!

Where did this stem from, first of all? As I've probably mentioned before, I believe in continuous self-improvement, and sometimes this entails experimenting with different things that may work for the stage I find myself in.

One of the things that I strive to practice is being a kinder, more understanding person - both to those around me, strangers or otherwise, and to myself. I admire those people who ALWAYS exude compassion and strength - my best friend being one of them - and strive to learn from them when I can.

So, back to empathy and compassion. It's something I've been saying to myself when I encounter various situations or something that annoys me - not always, but sometimes. This could be anything from frustration with myself, a depressing news article (don't we have so many of those nowadays?), or an idiotic driver (empathy and compassion, empathy and compassion) who decides that their need to get to their destination should be prioritised over the similar needs of others.

Sometimes, this is immediately effective at helping! I find it very easy to react when others make decisions that seem silly or hurtful - for example, someone being rude - but by taking just a moment to remind myself to be empathetic and compassionate, I find it much easier to think about the intentions or drivers behind their actions and judge those instead of judging their actions. Someone whose elevator etiquette may be lacking may simply be having a stressful day and be in a rush to get to where they need to be.

However, the times I've found it incredibly hard to practice this have been when I've encountered a sense of entitlement within the intentions themselves. A sense of entitlement in others - AND in myself.

To give you an example, there seems to be a never ending river of vitriol online responding to various situations or the other (NEVER read the comments!). I've been especially disheartened to see the responses people have to those who, for example, have endured sexual abuse - seemingly born out of a perceived challenge to their existing ways of being and living and operating (entitlement).

Another example - I read a news article in the morning about a reporter who had been working to expose corruption in a European country and was found brutally murdered - someone thinking that it's okay to silence the voice of another that way (entitlement).

And another - whenever I've realised my own dogma around my ways of being and values (entitlement).

I always find it interesting coming across and directly confronting (what I see as) inadequacies, or things I can improve on, about myself.

I read somewhere that what irks you most in others is a reminder of that which you fear in yourself, and I do think this is true. Humans. We definitely are a weird species, aren't we?

What's the key takeaway of this?

We're not perfect - we never will be - but hopefully by remembering to practice empathy and compassion from time to time, we can make the world an easier place to live in, and by choosing to confront entitlement within ourselves, we can make this an even smoother process I hope.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Soi: Restaurant Review

It's been a while since I'd been to Soi, a Thai restaurant at Dusit, so I definitely wasn't going to refuse this as a lunch location a few weeks ago!

The location is definitely convenient (for me, in this case ;) ), and I'm a fan of their ambience which may trick you into believing you're not in Nairobi.




To drink, I chose the Soi eleven sling - Longon gin shaken with fresh pineapple, lemon and sweet Thai basil, and soaked in tropical bitters and lemon soda. While I did enjoy this - it was refreshing and not too heavy for (what was supposed to be) a light Saturday lunch, I do think the aesthetic could've been improved. The plastic straw didn't do much for me (or the environment, I presume).



Soi eleven sling


To start off, we ordered the Peek gai thod kha-min (deep fried chicken wings marinated with turmeric, fish sauce and garlic, served with Thai BBQ sauce). I really enjoyed these! They were amazing and flavourful, and the garlic came through perfectly. They could've been slightly crispier, but I would still order these again. 


Now for mains - wow, we definitely over-ordered (and overate)! 

We got the Gaeng khiew wan gai - green curry with chicken; the Moo phad bai horapa kai dao - stir-fried spicy minced pork with sweet basil leaves, garlic and fried egg (but we replaced the pork with chicken); the Bok choi phad goong (stir-fried pok choi with black pepper and prawns in Thai garlic sauce); and steamed rice. 


First of all, the green curry. I'm a huge green curry fan, and this one definitely didn't disappoint! It had a slight bite to it (if you can't handle spice, beware), and managed to be wonderful and creamy. It was the perfect thing to order for a cold afternoon - comfort food if you will! 


Next up, the stir-fried minced chicken. I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but I really liked it!! Didn't try the egg though, I'm not really a fan of egg in my Thai food. However, this definitely could've been spicier, but this was easily remedied by adding some of the hot sauce (and green chillies) we asked for. In terms of flavour profile, the basil definitely injected a sweet flavour to the dish, but it worked very well. 


Now, the bok choi. I wasn't expecting to love this dish as much as I did!! I kept eating more and more, and even mixed it with the mince chicken (they went together very well). The prawns added to the light and refreshing feel of the dish, and the bok choi was perfectly cooked and crispy. 

My mouth is watering just looking at this again....
Finally, for dessert (Did you think I wouldn't make it this far? Well, you're wrong.), we opted for the coconut sticky rice with mango. Definitely a great choice, as it wasn't heavy at all, and not too sweet either (although the mango may have been a tad bit raw). 


What did you think? Has this review made you want to go check Soi out? If so, do let me know what you end up ordering!







Monday, August 27, 2018

Nyama Mama: Restaurant Review

If I had to describe Nyama Mama's ambience, they would be 'fun' and 'comfortable'. It's got an eclectic, colourful, modern-African vibe that also translates to their food and drinks.

A Sunday night dinner location was needed, and we settled upon Nyama Mama. It was also the perfect time for a review - although this one wasn't as in depth, so I do plan to return.

While I do love their cocktails, this particular evening I opted for the fresh mint tea. It was lovely and comforting, and definitely fit the vibe of the night. 


For starters, we decided to share a plate of the ugali fries. At this point, some of y'all's eyes are probably popping out of your heads. UGALI FRIES?? Yes, I can hear your thoughts. However, do give these a try without any prior conceptions of what you may be expecting! They're a nice, crispy starter, soft on the inside, and almost reminiscent of fish fingers (but vegetarian, of course). 


For mains, I decided to go for the buttermilk fried chicken - but instead of mashed potatoes, I asked for their masala chips. I know, I know, I'm breaking the box, but it worked really well! The masala chips were good, although a little drier than usual. The chicken was excellent - the batter was amazing and well coated, the chicken flavour was great, and the whole dish was very homey - think comfort food revamped. 


Family and friends got a variety of dishes, from the halloumi wrap with sukuma wiki (flavourful and an unexpected yet delicious blend) to the slow cooked paneer in tusker with mushroom chapatti parcel (YUM!)

For desserts, we decided to get and share two - the baked oreo cheese cake, with fresh berry coulis crisp tuille and chocolate ice cream, and the pineapple crumble with coffee ice-cream. The crumble was tangy and perfectly crumbly (heh), and the coffee ice-cream was an unexpected, yet lovely complement. 

Let's talk about the oreo cheesecake, shall we? This was absolutely a foodie's DREAM! The perfect explosion of flavour and texture in your mouth, I can see myself ordering this again, and again, and again. Do you know that feeling you get when someone gives you a gift and you're not quite sure what to expect, but you open it and it turns out to be your favourite thing in the world and you're just absolutely delighted? That's this feeling. As a cheesecake.



Overall - a very happy meal indeed! 

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