The Kenyan Nomad

The Kenyan Nomad

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! 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Osteria del Chianti: Restaurant Review


Confession time... up until Saturday, the 11th of August, I'd never been to Osteria. However, my sister and I were long overdue a sisters' day out (read: a legitimate reason for a food coma), and so decided to visit Osteria. A few reasons for the choice - its reputation, the fact that she'd tried and liked it before, and its proximity to Keventers  (more on their amazing milkshakes later).

Confession number 2: I've never been to Italy. However, when I walked into Osteria, I immediately imagined myself on a cute street corner in Italy, so seems that they've gotten something right! Again, lovely to sit and while an afternoon away, to paint for a few hours, to share some laughs with family, to enjoy a dinner date. I love that they've managed to create an ambience that's so OPEN while actually not being that open... does that make any sense? Alas, I didn't take general pictures, so you'll have to take my word on this one - or go visit yourself ;)

To start off, we ordered the large (hey, it was a Saturday afternoon!) glasses of house wine. Now, this was definitely a pleasant surprise. Many (if not most restaurants) in Nairobi just add fermented grape juice that has not quality whatsoever into glasses and call it house wine. However, I actually LIKED Osteria's!

Believe me when I say this glass took me from starters all the way till AFTER I'd finished my meal!

The focaccia that they brought us to begin with was amazing, and I had to be careful not to fill myself up on this alone! It was fresh, with a hint of garlic, and some lovely rosemary. The tomatoes complemented it perfectly, as did my requisite green chillies in olive oil. Think of a light, flavourful, happy explosion in your mouth and angels singing.

For starters, we decided to split a soup - the zuppa di pollo e cocco. Fear not, dear ones - I did actually jot down the description this time! This was chicken, coconut, lemongrass and chilli. Now, reading the description, I immediately thought of Thai soup - so was unsure what to expect, but loved what I got! I think the soup and focaccia were easily my favourite parts of the meal, they were THAT good.

The soup was amazingly light, yet creamy. The chicken was great and had wonderfully absorbed the marriage of flavours the soup represented, giving a sweet and slightly tangy flavour, with finely diced onions rounding out this perfect blend. I'll DEFINITELY order this one again.

We decided to go halfsies (that's a word, right?) for mains too - this time choosing the tagliatelle pesto and the proscuitto e funghi pizza.

First of all, the pesto. Now, I'm a huge fan of pesto pasta, but somehow this just didn't do it for me! The over-sauciness and bright green colour served to act as a turn off, and I couldn't finish my portion. I wouldn't order this again. However, it may have just been me as my sister did like it, and actually had my leftovers for lunch the next day.

The pizza, on the other hand, was great! Again, light and refreshing (I was left wondering how all this light and refreshing food left me in a food coma so bad...). The crust was amazing, thin, crispy in the right places and soft in others. The flavours were a lovely blend too - I'm personally a huge fan of proscuitto and mushrooms!

Alas, we didn't make it to dessert this time (but I'll happily come with you if you want to go!) as we were planning to try out Keventers' milkshakes, but I'll report back when I do.

Happy eating, nomads!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Urban Eatery High Tea: Restaurant Review


What does high tea remind you of? For me, it's a very specific memory. No posh dressing up, no outdoorsy event - rather, a warm, laughter filled event as family and friends gathered to celebrate whoever's birthday it was at the time, with the smell of lovely samosas in the background and the guarantee of a mouthwatering, homemade black forest cake.

I'm rather pleased that the trend of high tea has caught on in Nairobi - obviously, a very different kind of high tea from the one I encountered in my childhood, but one I can get behind nonetheless. 

When one of my favourite joints in Nairobi, Urban Eatery, rolled out a high tea option and invited me to try the same, I definitely couldn't refuse! You need to call in advance to make sure they have everything ready for you. What I liked about Urban's high tea is that, true to their character, even their high tea consisted of a blend of different cuisines. What would I change? Add even more cuisines! Samosas, anyone? 

To start off, we were given some tea (duh!) but the weird thing is that there was no sugar on the table. Luckily, right now I'm in a no-sugar-in-my-tea stage, but not so for my friend. 

However, when the goodies came out, I soon forgot all about this because the display was absolutely AMAZING! 

The top layer had cupcakes, vanilla and chocolate eclairs, a variety of cookies, nut cake and dark chocolate cake. 

The middle later had scones with whipped cream and homemade strawberry jam.

The bottom later had somakito, Philadelphia rolls, summer rolls, salmon open sandwiches, mayo and cheese sandwiches, and egg sandwiches. 

Top layer

Let's start off with the top layer, shall we? The butterjam cookie was soft and crunchy at the same time! The cookie with icing was a perfect treat - melt in your mouth good! 

The nut cake was very light, almost Snickers-ish. I'm not a Snickers fan (I know, I know), but I actually really liked this! 

The chocolate eclair was perfect and light - however, a little on the sweeter side for me so I couldn't have the whole thing! The vanilla eclair had all the great qualities of its chocolate cousin - but was just better!

What I didn't like about this layer, however, was the dark chocolate cake. It was on the dry side, and slightly bitter - definite room for improvement here! 

Middle layer

While the scones were hard, maybe overbaked - hear me out - I actually really liked them! They were hard on the outside, but a lovely texture, soft and sweet, on the inside, and I could have definitely kept eating them. 

I feel like I need a whole other blog post to wax poetic about the homemade strawberry jam...

OH. MY. GOODNESS. This was absolutely DIVINE. Tart and sweet, heavenly and fresh, I'm sure this will inspire many a love song. Goodness. Even if the rest of the high tea hadn't been wonderful, I would definitely return just for this.

Top layer

Now we get to the savoury layer - I'll admit, I wasn't sure how the transition would go, but I was pleasantly surprised! 

Containers for soy sauce weren't provided here, but this was easily rectified. 

The egg salad sandwiches' bread was a little dry - as it is, egg salad is far from my favourite, so I didn't eat much of this. However, my friend loved it, especially how creamy it was!

The summer roll was very refreshing, healthy, and perfectly complemented the sweet chilli sauce (which was great!). 

The Philadephia roll was good - not as great as the summer roll though! 

The sushi in general was amazing, I'd love this again! 

I finished this plate off with the mayo and cheese sandwich - however, I didn't see much cheese or mayo... On the other hand, the sandwich did have mango, black pepper and cucumber - and they went together really well! The bread on this was also softer.

For a grand finale, we went back to the top layer for the cupcakes. These were lovely and dainty and oh-so-good! Please oh please Urban, add these to your regular menu. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Zen Garden Bamboo: Restaurant Review

You may or may not already know that Zen Garden (especially Bamboo) is one of my favourite restaurants in Nairobi. I definitely visit more often than I should, and I also realise that this is one of the top places I choose to visit whenever I know someone is visiting from abroad. However, I realise for a place that's in my top 5 for Nairobi, I definitely haven't done enough official reviews here - so that's where this review is coming from!

Their ambience is amazing, well suited for anything from a corporate dinner to a best friends' day out to a date.

For wine (of course), I decided to go for a bottle of Domaine de la Baume's Cabernet Sauvignon. I've never had this one before, but was pleasantly surprised. It had a hint of licorice and red berries - and mint! If you've never heard me rant about my experience with this menthol-tinged wine a few years back, please do ask me the next time you see me. Anyway, this had put me off trying ANY wine that claimed to have mint flavour, but this particular cab sav had more subtle hints of mint that weren't super aggressive. If I had to rate this wine, I'd give it about a 7.5/10.

For starters, the salt and pepper vegetables and the prawn cigars were chosen. The salt and pepper veggies were perfectly crisp and fresh - and my surprise of the day was that I actually LIKED the onions in this! I'm not a huge fan of onions that are not all the way done, but this was a definite exception - so much so that I actually saved the onions and had them with the prawn cigars too! This dish also had a lovely tinge of spice - not overwhelming, but definitely a good kick.

Also - look how lovely it looks! That's another reason Zen Garden is always a winner for me - their presentation is always effortlessly flawless.

The prawn cigars were really yummy too! The flavours in this one were definitely simpler on the palate - prawn, batter, and some chillies. This blended together to give a lovely picture that's a perfect complement for a wide variety of drinks, from wine to cocktails I'd say.

For mains, instead of my usual red or green curry, I decided to try the chicken in red chilli and crisp thai basil. EXCELLENT CHOICE! The flavours blended together PERFECTLY, and there were also varying levels of complexity - the sweet, the tangy, the spicy. The texture of this dish was also great, and I loved that the chicken itself had great flavour (disappointingly, not always the case at some restaurants). This dish was

A friend ordered the crispy pork - while the flavours were great, it was a little dry for me.

The only thing I found lacking on that day - which is actually the first time I've had this experience at Zen btw - was that the service was not as attentive as usual.

If you haven't yet been - please do go, and let me know what you think!

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