Seven Must-Try Restaurants In Nairobi

Nairobi, the glistening City Under the Sun, is home to some of East Africa’s best restaurants. The city’s food culture is wonderfully diverse, with even international restaurants integrating a taste of Africa into their meals. Whether you’re passing through before heading out on safari or here to visit, East Africa’s most sophisticated city provides an ideal backdrop to relax and indulge. Memories are created at the dining tables, where you can soak up the atmosphere over local favorite nyamachoma (grilled steak) and the popular locally brewed Tusker beer.

These are the restaurants to add to your Nairobi itinerary:

Java House

You can’t miss Java House in Nairobi. Even if you try to, you’re eventually bound to encounter one of its 34 branches sooner or later. The new and spacious Java House on Kimathi Street has the best views of the city and is the perfect stop to refuel after strolling around the CBD. Ask for the special homestyle chicken dhania and a side dish of spare pork ribs if you’re looking to indulge. Wash it down with their refreshing pineapple mint juice or apple cider.

News Cafe

Sprawling with elegant decor, soft lighting and an intimate indoor seating area, South-African based News Cafe offers the perfect aura for a special meal. A favorite choice is the chicken tikka on the bone. Wash this down with their signature sweet-but-strong cocktails, such as the Love Potion. News Cafe at the Sarit Centre  is strategically placed as the ideal restaurant stop-over after a whole ton of shopping.  One is spoilt for choice; from their stir-fry shrimp entrees, fresh tomato garlic & basil pasta or a crispy pesto cheese pizza. If you want to have a decent conversation over drinks without music badgering your eardrums, then walk into News Cafe.

Urban Eatery

Overlooking the busy urban Westlands area, Urban Eatery combines six different restaurants into one, and you choose which one you want to eat at. The options range from an all-day dining bistro, Indian food, an Asian noodle bar, Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine, a milkshake bar and the Mercury signature bar for beer lovers. Grab your plate and sit among the mahogany-crafted tables surrounded by animal-skin rugs,  making it feel like you’re on a food safari.

Art Caffé

A breathtaking city view is your backdrop eye gallore when you dine at Art Caffé. The crowd at Art Caffé Oval is young and energetic. The restaurant is adorned with modern and sophisticated white décor and includes a relaxing magazine corner. It’s also candlelit by night. Definitely go for the pizza and finish of with the classic vanilla eclair for dessert. Soft jazz playing quietly at a corner is the lovely soundtrack for lunch, while the attentive customer service is spot on.

Kafé Afrikana

Smack in the middle of The Mall in the busy urban streets of Westlands, Kafé Afrikana is the ultimate grab-and-go restaurant, packed full of ready-made meals if you’re in a hurry. Inspired by the world-renowned premium coffee grown in Kenya, Kafé Afrikana derives its name from the green fertile highlands of Kenya and offers authentic African snacks such as the beef pilau (spiced rice) or Swahili chicken, with re-fills of the best coffee ever.

Zen Garden

Located along Lower Kabete Road, Zen Garden is a pan-Asian heaven and has been many times the talk of town because of its comfortable, relaxed and lush dining experience. The scent of fresh bamboo hangs in the air as you enter. When it comes to the Japanese dining and culinary prowess, one thing stands out: the culturally-rich flavors infused in the food, such as the papaya salad, prawn crackers, assorted sushi options, curry chicken with mushroom and the Zen Garden special fried rice & noodles. For coffee lovers, the Zen Café is one to try out, with contemporary coffees and freshly baked desserts. Remember to ask for the ‘Zen Garden Desert Special’ – tastes better than vanilla-wrapped waffles coated in pistachio ice cream.

Dusit D2’s SOKO

Soko means market in Swahili, and Dusit D2’s SOKO restaurant (www.d2nairobi.com) is a bountiful selection of gourmet food. What should you order from this market? Try the grilled pork ribs washed down with a refreshing glass of their signature gin & zing cocktail, which is a twist on the classic gin & tonic special. Located on the south wing of Dusit D2, part of Dubai’s international luxury hotel chains, it goes without saying that SOKO is cut above the rest with its flawlessly elegant interiors and lavish décor. The à la carte menu offered as well as buffet dining served at SOKO goes on to show that this is a restaurant willing to leap great lengths to satisfy its customers.

 

Music Review: Omarion In Kenya

You’ve got to understand the type of guy Omarion is.

His face is honey-dripping good looking. He’s got baby soft skin and a 6-pack worth licking ice cubes from. His hair is styled so stylishly well; shout out to his black barber back in California and he looks like his scent is simply divine.

He’s summed up like a well-carved music demigod.

But that’s merely the tip of the iceberg.

Omarion absorbs culture. He lives it, breathes it, revels in it.

He’s a humble millionaire superstar (with an alleged net worth of $8M, converted to Kshs 800M) who graced Nairobi over the weekend and took in every tradition that came his way.

Blending with Maasai Warriors? Oh yes, them included. He claimed their tradition and danced along with them. Head over to @KenyanVibe on Twitter and get a glimpse of O (At this point we’re all boys with Omarion after he landed to the motherland, so we can simply call him ‘O’.) He’s dressed in full gear Maasai regalia and if you didn’t know him for the superstar that he is, you’d easily assume him one of the clan.


That having been said, Omarion posted a video of himself dancing with the staff at what looked like Crowne Hotel, Upperhill, who were singing (in the most disheveled melodic version yet) the zilizopendwa song, ‘Jambo’ to Omarion. But he and his entourage didn’t seem to mind. They were busy embracing a Swahili welcome, in Africa, ready to turn up and have a good time, as you could tell from the various ‘eeeys’ in their selfie-videos.

So in comes his performance at the Ngong’ Racecourse.

Unfortunately I got to the event quite late, never had the opportunity to check out the new cats in the music industry as well as some of the more familiar faces. But I did make the mental note to check out some performances on social media from artists such as Dela. Her outfit could only be summed up in one phrase: Angel meets Riri.

I also saw a clip of Fena Gitu performing with her gang; BlinkyBill, Kagwe, Mayonde and MDQ, and they all looked like the kind of squad you’d want in your lane.

From reviews, I heard Le Band did quite the job on stage too. And it was expected. I mean, they’re like the new Sauti Sol, right? We all think it. At first we thought that H_art the Band was the new Sauti Sol, but they’re too eccentric for our laid back gents. So Le Band fits the bill quite snuggly. Which is good, because Sauti Sol are now internationally recognized.

Other notable acts were from Mvroe & Kiwango, Marcus & Shappaman, What’s Good Live’s Barak Jacuzzi, Alpha Mars and P.R.O.

I also got in in time to meet Amina hosting the show, with her long black tutu skirt, and Dj Joe Mfalme hosting on the decks.

Vera Sidika’s Veetox stand was literally the first thing you saw as you walked into the venue and I kid you not, I saw her getting ushered into the backstage by 2 fully dressed army guys with AK 47s dangerously dangling on their sides, walking right behind her ready to snub a guy if they even tried to wave at the girl. I thought the act quite peculiar but hey, if you’ve got Vera Sidika money then I guess you can literally do anything you damn want.

At this point, we all want to have rich men in our lives, going by Vera’s and Akothee’s lifestyles. But that’s a story for another day.

Back to our main man, O.

I literally only recall him singing ‘MIA’, a collaboration with rapper Wale. I mean, that’s the first song I remember listening to after I secured a tight spot right next to the stage where girls were out rightly competing to touch his cream-suede boots and end up yelling. “Oh my gosh, it’s really him!” on live Instagram feeds.

O then changed, or rather, grabbed an Ankara jean jacket over his black vest, and came out to perform ‘Post to Be’,Body on Me’ and lastly, the famous Orange hoodie for ‘Distance’.

The crowd was full of screaming girls and a bunch of drunken guys off of Hennessy. The rest were too busy filming for their social media fans to actually enjoy the music.  A couple handful, like me, were the only ones who truly seemed to live in the moment, and watch this iconic star that we’ve grown up bumping to, perform right here in the heart of our city.

My expectations for O’s performance were a bit higher than what was delivered. I’m not gonna lie.

I thought he’d come with a troop of dancers and perform live and make me wail and cry about how freezing my ice-boxed heart has become.

I went for Chris Brown in Mombasa last year and that show was all words EPIC. Even though he’d traveled with only 2 dancers. But we forgave him. Maybe cos Chris Brown has always been relevant to our music scene.

In fact, I believe the crowd was more hyped over the fact that Omarion was standing right before their eyeballs, as opposed to the fact that they should’ve been bumping to his actual music.

His performance with just 1 hype man on his side was however pardoned with the fact that he made us all lark-giddy by his ‘Distance’ performance, which let’s all agree, was the main chant of the night.

Another thing he did right though, unlike most International acts, was truly appreciate his fans.

Like the guy just stood at the back of the stage and bumped along with the crowd to African songs like Darassa’s Muziki. (And what’s with the ‘Bra, bra, bra, staki kusiskia phrase?’ As thought someone was paying homage to a girl’s bra. In the guy’s defense, the phrase worked cos nowadays it sounds cooler to say ‘bra, bra, bra’ as opposed to ‘bluh, bluh, bluh’. Try it you’ll see. And be sure to insert his intonation as you say it.)

O also danced to Davido’s ‘If’, a song we all know he likes to jam to from his former Instagram posts.

What irked me was the fact that the Dj on O’s live set never even played ONE Kenyan song. Like, he couldn’t even let O see us jam to the ‘Mwanaume sembe/mazgwembe’ song? Or maybe some Nyashinski or Toa Tint?

Another lesson to be learnt on just how much we need to address and incorporate our own authentic stuff in relation to other guest acts.

Then O also gave out personally autographed cool orange hoodies. We can assume that O has officially made orange hoodies a thing. I need to go thrift-shopping for one soon.

All said and done, the inaugural #AfropopFestival was an overall success, minus the petty Ngong’ Racecourse thieves here and there and the lack of adept lighting towards the entrance of the event; an event that ended after a 45 minute performance-wrap that left fans feeling shortchanged.

Of Breathtaking Views From Angama Mara

Imagine seated by a fireplace sipping on some hot masala tea, overlooking the vast view of the Maasai Mara Triangle. Seems spectacular, right? Just when I thought I had come across and seen all that luxury hotels have to offer, in comes Angama Mara – creating a whole different experience that leaves you feeling as though you were left suspended in mid-air.

Because that’s the meaning of Angama, in Swahili that is; To Suspend.

Angama is a pure experience, one that leaves you feeling as though you were floating somewhere right in the middle of heaven and earth; Angama is a spectacular place, because the hotel is literally perched at the very top of an escarpment, specifically to offer awe-inspiring views of the Maasai Mara; Angama is also a way of life, because the service at Angama is notably high end, one whose status has been placed high and beyond.

Game Drive

Our game drive begun at about 9am, and we were an eager bunch of six, ready and prepped to sight some cats and most of all, the Great Wildebeest Migration. Our first animals were a fleet of giraffes lazily having their morning snack, followed by a herd of zebras and wildebeests.

Soon enough, we got to sight a female cheetah seated under a tree observing her prey and later on, a lioness actually catching her prey.


Peace signs with Douglas, Angama Mara guide

As though by chance, our guide Douglas got wind that the Wildebeest Migration was about to happen, and so we dashed to the Mara River to witness this rare spectacular that few have the privilege to catch the Seventh Wonder of the World. Here we were, perched right by the river bank, patiently seated for about 30 minutes waiting for the great cross. And just when we were beginning to get weary thinking that the animals were cowardly and weren’t actually going to go through with it, then it happened!

The much anticipated Wildebeest Migration

Thousands upon thousands of herds of wildebeests and zebras fled through the wild scary coffee-waters to cross towards the other side, placing their fear of the fat crocodiles lazing around aside to save their lives.  A baby wildebeest was not as lucky as the others unfortunately, as it got caught by a crocodile!


An excited lot at the Maasai Manyatta

The Mara adventure then proceeded to a Maasai Manyatta, where we got to see the day-to-day activities of the Maasai Community who were keen on showing us their lifestyle.

Sundowners and Maasai Ambush

Our trip ended on a high note with sundowner moments at Angama and a Maasai dance ambush, the hospitality that is the Angama staff, a warm hug from Nikki Fitzgerald, owner and co-founder of Angama, a ginger toffee from their daughter Kate Fitzgerald to help my clogged nose and watery eyes that were probably as a result of the change in weather, and a great wave of goodbyes from Azei, Douglas and Terry from Angama!

Soaring High

As they say back at Angama, Keep Soaring High!

I would definitely recommend this place to you, your boss, your entire extended family and most specially, your lover. You’ll need some warmth to chase the Mara cold away. And if you just happen to be alone, then the Angama bed warmers will suit just fine.

(All Images Courtesy: Martin Muraguri)

       

 

My African Mother

My African Mother is a warrior. She is a she-god. A magician in her craft that is embellished ‘Motherhood’.

She is a sacrifice; for the good of her children, for the love of her offspring.

My African Mother lightens my world.

Whenever she’s at home, it feels like a Saturday, calm and serenity

My mother loves. She’s caring. She’s pristine. She’s clean.

Nothing she can ever do can be wrong.

She might not know all the answers to life, but she creates solutions to problems, issues that then transform into non issues.

My African Mother is ride-or-die. She’s a child of God; who’s borne fruit to children of God.

She protects her lineage. Ensures they are anointed, blesses them.

My African Mother is a pillow for comfort; she is the light at the end of the tunnel, the illumination from a tower overlooking darkness, the glow of direction.

My African Mother bears it all for her young ones; she takes in all the spears headed towards her and shields her loved ones.

My African Mother never tires. Even with crease linings forming on her forehead, she finds the time and opportunity to smile. To be grateful. To be thankful.

Mother forgives. She has an energy running smoothly though her veins, beyond explanation.

She is the place of comfort and solace. A student of peace and unity.

My African Mother has the body of a goddess. She prepares her skin with smooth ore and paints her lips in confident crimson.

Mother learned how to be an African Mother from her African Mother, who learned it from her African Mother.

My African Mother loves me.

Me, a typical African child.

She loves me.

With all her heart. With all her being.

And that’s why I am who I am, how I am. And I am grateful for that.

My African Mother is the lioness of the wilderness, a strength and fortress, a place of okay.

My African Mother lets me be me; with my moods and my anger and my stress.

She takes care of me, even when I don’t take much notice of her.

She is great, a fortress, a steel of strength.

Oh Mama Africa.

May you bring forth women worth the title, African Mother.