Posts tagged kenya
Eat.Drink.Travel: The Sands at Nomad (Diani Beach, Kenya)
 

 

NOSA: Before we get into this, I think we need to issue a little disclaimer or something. Diani Beach is not in Mombasa. When people say they're going to Mombasa for vacation, they usually mean Diani Beach because there's no way you're really vacationing in Mombasa. Mombasa is like Apapa. 

That said, The Sands at Nomad is on many a Kenya bucket list. Year after year, it's a Trip Advisor Traveller's Choice spot so we HAD TO check it out. 

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FOLLY: After being warned by locals to save all sushi allowances for Diani Beach, we excitedly ordered sushi when we got to The Sands at Nomad. I ordered only the Ebi Tempura and I left the rest to Nosa. 

NOSA: I ordered the Tempura Prawn Roll and the Rainbow Uramaki

Ebi Tempura

Ebi Tempura

The ebi tempura was really underwhelming. Like, the blandness of it was so jarring to me. It was almost like they refused to season it by design. This was a running theme across the table as well. All our friends at dinner thought their orders were bland and seasoning notably absent. 

FOLLY: We also ordered the seafood pizza but that never arrived. Probably because the waitress was probably wondering how one table of 8 people could want two of the same pizza. I didn't miss it because we had over compensated for the near loss of a phone with copious amounts of sushi and wine. 

Calamari

Calamari

FOLLY: We combed through TripAdvisor reviews before visiting and ordering but past patrons were split down the middle in terms of excellent and piss poor, which explains our rather average and disappointing dinner.

NOSA: Ordering calamari was our smartest move of the night because it was a probably the only satisfying item. It must be said that for place so close to the sea, the seafood was just so disappointing. 

Tempura Prawn Roll

Tempura Prawn Roll

NOSA: The biggest letdown was the sushi. I don't think I've had sushi this bad since Bonsai two years ago.

FOLLY: The Sands at Nomad was the most disappointing food experience at Diani beach (and there were quite a few) because everything was tasteless and without personality. All the maki rolls we ordered were heavy on the rice and the fish felt like an afterthought. 

Rainbow Uramaki

Rainbow Uramaki

FOLLY: Overall I'd give this a miss if I were you. However, in looking for a silver lining our friends, based on TripAdvisor reviews, ordered the home made ice-cream in which they were well pleased. I didn't because I'm lactose intolerant.

Thanks Nkemka for the pictures!


VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Rainbow Uramaki - $8.90 

Tempura Prawn Roll - $8.90

Samosa (4) - $7.90

Ebi Tempura - $15

Calamari Rings - $8.90

 

 

RECOMMENDED DISH

The homemade ice-cream

Eat.Drink.Travel: Mama Rocks (Nairobi, Kenya)
 
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FOLLY: I alluded to the Mama Rocks over eating incident in our Talisman review on Monday but we really went overboard with this one. 

NOSA: Pureeeeee  gluttony. Mama Rocks is HIGHLY recommended if you're in Nairobi. It's on every list you're going to come across.

FOLLY: Between the 8 of us that went to Mama Rocks, we had 13 burgers. I believe that will tell you everything you need to know about the “over eating incident”. In addition to the 13 burgers, we also had sides - sweet potato fries, regular fries, and multiple portions of chicken wings. 

Oh, and the Alchemist Bar is in the same premises as Mama Rocks had a happy hour deal so naturally we helped ourselves.

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FOLLY: Let’s just say that we were deprived after coming back from Diani Beach and so we went HAM. 

NOSA: The less said about Diani Beach, the better. The place is like a commercialized Zanzibar and that's not a good thing. It has none of village charm of Zanzibar and all of the goats. There's tons of alcohol, but the seafood is not as good. I'm getting stressed just thinking about Diani Beach again. 

Sigh. 

FOLLY: Between Nosa and I, we ordered:

  • Nollywood Suya: beef patty + red onions + nutty mayo + rocket
  • Mango Masi Mama: beef patty + chili mango mayo + orange cheddar + pickles 
  • Desmond Tutu: pulled pork + cheddar + rich mayo slaw
  • Ushoago.at:  goat patty + mint sauce + feta. 
L-R: Nollywood Suya, Mango Masai Mama, Flaming Desmond Tutu

L-R: Nollywood Suya, Mango Masai Mama, Flaming Desmond Tutu

NOLLYWOOD SUYA SAGA (W.Africa)
A prime cut paprika spiced beef patty, sautéed red onions, mama’s special honeyed-nutty mayo, rocket lettuce and homemade Only The Brave Hot Sauce.
Fries

Fries

FOLLY: If a Nigerian picked N50 from the road and was transformed into a burger (not yam this time), urban legend style, the Nollywood Suya Saga burger is what he/she would taste like. You know how Nigerians love stew? This was a stewy and peppery burger. The stew was so deep that it was like the patty had a thin red line through it like it was mixed with stew when it was formed.

NOSA: The Nollywood Suya burger tastes like what other Africans think Nigerian food tastes like. 

They're not wrong. 

FOLLY: I was disappointed that I had a very small helping of the nutty mayo because it only came through in one little section of the burger but my friend's burger had a more generous serving.

How cool are this shave down Ciroc bottles?   

How cool are this shave down Ciroc bottles?

 

NOSA: Before we get into the other burgers, do you know what was really great? The wings. 

FINGA LICKIN’ HARISSA CHICKEN (N.Africa)
Fall of the bone chicken wings smothered in Harissa – a unique blend of roast peppers, chilies, garlic, coriander and warm spices.

NOSA: Maybe it's because a lot of the stuff had been eating didn't have any "pepper" and it affected our taste buds, but EVERYONE in our group loved these wings. Absolutely delicious. 

FOLLY: A couple of my favorite food bloggers hype up Harissa as a spice blend and it's LIT.

Finga Lickin' Harissa Chicken

Finga Lickin' Harissa Chicken

NOSA: There are two types of burgers at Mama Rocks: African Style Gourmet Burgers and Sapeur Boutique Burgers. The gourmet burgers are their regular run-of-the-mill burgers (if you can even call them run-of-the-mill), while the boutique burgers are their burgers with a little more oomph. Because they have a little extra to them, you can get the boutique burgers as either full burgers or sliders. 

FOLLY: Also the burgers also represent different regions in Africa.

MANGO MASAI MAMA (E.Africa)
Prime cut beef patty, chili mango mayonnaise, orange cheddar cheese, mixed salad, homemade gherkins and a slice of sweet roasted red bell pepper.

NOSA: One burger you must try at Mama Rocks is the Mango Masai Mama. You're might not find mango flavored mayo anywhere else on earth so you might as well try it at Mama Rocks. On a serious note, I'm massive hater of fruits. Like, I absolutely detest them, but I loved this burger. It's messy as hell, but it's so so yum. The saltiness of the bacon and the sweet kick from the mango mayo form the most perfect union. 

DESMOND FLAMING TUTU (S.Africa)
Braai style pulled pork, beef patty, cheddar cheese, summery apple-sauce, and a rich mayo slaw. Add extra cheddar to turn this spark into a flame!

NOSA: Of all the burgers we tried, the Desmond Flaming Tutu was the one we could've probably skipped out on. Not saying it wasn't any good, because it was, but it wasn't worth being a glutton for. On its own, it's a solid burger, but compared to the others, it lacked a little something. 

FOLLY: So the summery apple-sauce had a tinge of pepper and ended up tasting like sweet fried stew - it was so tasty and I made everyone use it as a dipping sauce for their fries.

The GOAT

The GOAT

Now for the Ushago.at, a boutique burger, as always mint and feta is a VIBE, you can never go wrong with that. The goat patty also vibed well with the fillings to match the alte burger vibes. 

NOSA: Putting feta a burger, to me, represents a commitment to excellence. Like, you aren't here to play with anyone. Putting all your competitors on notice LOL. 

Jokes aside, the Ushago.at tastes like pure sex. After a tedious flight from Mombasa, this burger was the perfect welcome. 

USHAGO.AT (Kenya)
A homey mouth-watering goat patty, Maziwa Lala and mint sauce, refreshing kachumbari, skuma (Mama Style), crumbled feta cheese (and optional Mama Jane’s Green Chilli sauce).

FOLLY: The real shame that this was the last burger we tucked in to because I was already so full that I had to let Nosa eat most of it.

USHAGO.AT

USHAGO.AT

NOSA: Whatever your itinerary is, if you find yourself in Nairobi, you MUST stop by Mama Rocks. You'd be a fool not to. You can skip on the other places like Talisman and Thai Chi. Just do Mama Rocks. 


VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Ushago.AT - $11

Mango Masai Mama - $9.50

Nollywood Suya Saga - $8.50

Flaming Desmond Tutu - $11

Finga Lickin' Harissa Chicken - $6.50

 

RECOMMENDED DISH

Mango Masai Mama

Sweet Mother

Ushago.AT

Eat.Drink.Travel: Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant (Diani Beach, Kenya)
 

FOLLY: After a series of disappoint experiences in the Diani Beach area (I'm looking at you The Sands at Nomad Hotel), Ali Barbour's Cave was the final hope our group had for the food at Diani Beach. 

NOSA: Ali Barbour's is a restaurant in a cave that is believed to be between 120,000 to 180,000 years old.

FOLLY: There was a lot to look forward to with Ali Barbour's cave restaurant. The most obvious of them was that we were going to be dining in a cave. 

NOSA: No, seriously, it's in a cave. If you don't believe me, check out the pictures on Google

FOLLY: In case you're wondering, thankfully there are no bats in this caves and the caves has some natural opening in it that you can look up and see the stars while you dine. Lovely eh?

NOSA: Oh, a lil fun fact, it's right beside a bar called 40 Thieves. So it's...Ali Barbour and the 40 Thieves. LOL

Drunken Prawns

Drunken Prawns

FOLLY: Because it's by the coast, we decided to go for more of the seafood options. So to start, we shared Ali's Drunken prawns and Jumbo Prawns with Soft Cheese Tortellini. 

In retrospect, getting two prawns dishes for our starter was bad overdoing it, but oh well. 

NOSA: Just a little bit.

FOLLY: The drunken prawns were to be soaked in a cream based whiskey sauce. To be honest, this wasn't very memorable and I was expecting to taste the whiskey however subtle but not even a hint came through. 

NOSA: I disagree. I actually thought it was very delightful. A lot better than the tortellini. 

Jumbo Prawns

Jumbo Prawns

FOLLY: The tortellini was also a bit too doughy and there was barely any cheese but it got better.

NOSA: These might be the least jumbo Jumbo Prawns that I've ever had in my life. 

Pan Grilled King Fish

Pan Grilled King Fish

Maybe Kenyans don't have the fishing tekkers because at every restaurant we tried, the prawns were so tiny. We got none of the overwhelming stuff that we were served in Zanzibar last year.

FOLLY: For my main course, I had Grilled King (Yellowtail) Fish with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes. 

NOSA: Yup, wasabi in mash. But, Folly will get to that in a bit. 

FOLLY: Oily fish like kingfish, Mackerel (aka Titus fish, judge me if you wish), and salmon are very much my faves. 

I love how they just slide on your tongue and take on flavor so well. If I were to use wine analogy, I'd describe it as full bodied as opposed to white fish which are very light (read: tasteless).

Lobster Surf & Turf

Lobster Surf & Turf

NOSA: For my main, I got the Lobster Surf & Turf. After a lot of thought, I've come to the conclusion that Surf & Turf is largely a scam. While it's a great idea on paper, it's always terrible value for money (it was the most expensive thing we ordered). Most restaurants, not all, skimp on the quality of the components. The steak, by itself, is never one of the pricier cuts. The lobster/shrimp/whatever-fish is never large enough a portion and is frozen, not fresh, most of the time. But restaurants put them together and suddenly feel charging a premium is justified. 

Wasabi Mash

Wasabi Mash

FOLLY: The wasabi mashed potatoes were a brilliant idea... on paper. There is an absolutely good reason why we dilute wasabi in soy sauce in Japanese cuisine or only use a smidgen in a sushi roll because wasabi is very aggressive to taste. 

After the first taste of the wasabi mash, I found myself having to dilute it with gravy that came with Nosa's meal because the wasabi was coming on way too strong.

NOSA: I wish it came as a side on mine and not the boring rice I got served. 

Lobster

Lobster

Crepes

Crepes

NOSA: The steak was a bit meh, but I wasn't expecting too much from it. The lobster, however, was excellent. It definitely wasn't frozen so thank God for that. Wished I got all surf and none of the turf. 

To finish off, we got the Crepe Suzette, which is flambeed at table.  But like much of Ali Barbour, it's better for the experience than the actual food. It's delicious, no doubt, but the the show is a the bigger highlight. 

If you ever find yourself in Diani Beach for a getaway, you need to give Ali Barbour's cave a look


VERDICT

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DAMAGE

 Jumbo prawns - $9.50

Lobster Surf & Turf - $32

Ali's drunken prawns - $9.50

Pan Grilled King Fish - $16.50

 

Recommended Dish

Tagliatelle Seafood Barbours Style

Chili Crab

Eat.Drink.Travel: Marula Mercantile (Nairobi, Kenya)
 

NOSA: This might be me jumping to hasty conclusions, but I think garden restaurants are a thing in Nairobi. Or maybe it's a thing with restaurants in the Karen area. The vibe at Marula Mercantile is so so similar to Talisman, which is in Karen also. I wonder why garden restaurants are not a thing in Lagos. It's the perfect setting for a Sunday brunch. 

Oh, wait. Nvm. I remember why. We have no greenery in a Lagos. 

FOLLY: Nairobi has really lovely greenery. I'm no expert but I believe it contributes to their cooler weather. In Lagos, we don't like nice (or green) things so we suffer.

Marula Mercantile wasn't in our original plan or radar. We spent the morning at the Giraffe Centre with friends and a friend's friend made the reservation for us to have lunch here. 

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FOLLY: The service at Marula Mercantile pales in comparison to Talisman. The wait time was over 50 minutes and we were the only table in the restaurant - granted we were a party of 11 but with very similar.

NOSA: The wait staff were a bit distracted throughout our lunch.  

FOLLY: My drink of choice and the first cocktail I had in Nairobi was a simple Pimm's Cup. Pimms, Cucumber, ginger garnished with orange slices. Th drink was terribly fruity as one would expect, and I enjoyed it so much that I ended up ordering a second. 

NOSA: To start, we got the Nachos

Nachos

Nachos

FOLLY: It was like the nachos that we received had been sitting out for quite a while before being served. The tortilla chips, although good quality and homemade, tasted quite stale. The chili as you can likely tell from the pictures was dry, and the texture on the cheese was like it had melted a long time ago and had enough time on a countertop to thicken and cool down. 

NOSA: Cliff's Notes version - avoid the nachos. 

Loaded with 3-bean chili, cheese, guacamole, salsa and jalapenos

Loaded with 3-bean chili, cheese, guacamole, salsa and jalapenos

FOLLY: The tomato salsa did not make a bold enough appearance to give the nachos some moisture that it was desperately lacking. My friend who ordered the same thing shared all the same grievances as I had. Her assessment might be even harsher than mine. 

NOSA: For our main, we got the Pork Belly Ribs.

Pork Belly Ribs

Pork Belly Ribs

FOLLY: The ribs were the star of the show. The meat slid cleanly off the bone with the swipe of the back of a fork. I was certain that we all suffered so that the ribs would come out perfect. 

NOSA: The ribs were soooo righteous. We were told Kenyans take pride in their pork and we were definitely told no lies.

Up close

Up close

NOSA: The ribs were unbelievably tender and the serving was utterly ginormous. The portion wouldn't look out of place in a Flinstones episode. These might be the best ribs I've had all year, I kid you not. 

At $15, the ribs were definitely great value. That's about N5400 if you use N360 as your exchange rate. There's no way in hell you're getting ribs this good and portion this massive at that price in Lagos. NO WAY.

We're really suffering in Lagos, my God. 


Damage

Nachos - $7

Pork Belly Ribs - $15

 

 

Recommended Dish:

Pork Belly Ribs

Eat.Drink.Travel: The Talisman Restaurant (Nairobi, Kenya)
 
Thai is my ultimate favourite cuisine in THE world and if you’re a devoted EDL reader, you should know that.
— Folly

FOLLY: Before our trip to Nairobi, Nosa did a lot of research and compiled a list of restaurants that we were going to visit.

NOSA: Failure to plan is planning to fail... or something like that.

FOLLY: Two of my faves from his shortlist were Talisman and Thai Chi. Due to over eating at Mama Rocks, we didn't get to visit Thai Chi on this trip but there was no way I was letting Talisman slip out of my hands so I made it happen on our last night. 

NOSA: Talisman was definitely the one I was most looking forward to. I'd done a lot of reading on it so I was sufficiently pumped for it. 

FOLLY: Talisman is desribed as an "elegant Gastrolounge with an eclectic twist".

If you're like me that really doesn't meet anything to you.

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However, from studying the menu, I gathered that Talisman weaves together African, Pan-Asian, Middle Eastern with a splash of Italian. Sounds all over the place but the Pan-Asian influences were the strongest. I really wanted to go all out and order a lot of things on the starter menu but I was trying to be conservative. 

Feta & Coriander Samosa .

Feta & Coriander Samosa.

FOLLY: The service at Talisman wasn't over the top but a lot better than anything you'd find in Lagos and the food preparation time was speedy. To start, we shared the Twice Cooked Pork Belly and Feta & Coriander Samosa.

NOSA: The samosas are definitely a "must order" item. They kept popping up in all the reviews I read and the whole thing was sealed for me when a local recommended we order it too. 

Twice Cooked Pork Belly

Twice Cooked Pork Belly

FOLLY: A running theme you'll see from the rest of our Nairobi reviews is that samosas are really popular in these parts and they do an amazing job making them. The bold and contrasting flavors of feta and coriander made a perfect pair.

Deep in the samosa

Deep in the samosa

NOSA: It absolutely didn't disappoint. Normally, I'd never go close to any vegetarian samosa, but this one is definitely worth the exception. I'm convinced when chefs add feta to anything, it's a serious declaration of intent. Like, they aren't trying to muck about at all. You're not finding this samosa in any small chops pack.

FOLLY: Throw the entire small chops pack away. 

NOSA: As impressive as the samosa was, the pork belly was even better. The thing was so goddamn spectacular. The marinade blew my mind completely. 

Thai Red Curry

Thai Red Curry

FOLLY: Choosing one main to try at Talisman was like choosing between children. I was dead set on the risotto before I arrived but I was swayed into ordering from the seasonal menu instead on arrival. My eventual choice was the Thai Red Curry with a pork shank (Aside: pork is very common on Nairobi).

NOSA: I went with the Talisman Burger as a phillistine. I really, really wanted the ostrich fillet, but the waiter told us that the ostrich farm had been shut down so it was taken off the menu. What a sad. 

Thai ed Curry  with a pork shank

Thai ed Curry with a pork shank

Pork shank

Pork shank

The Talisman Burger

The Talisman Burger

FOLLY: I wasn't expecting a measly portion but the sheer size of the shank(s) I received overwhelmed me. I didn't want a repeat of the Mama Rocks over eating incident, and I also wanted to leave room for dessert so I stopped myself after one piece. 

The way the potatoes were presented also surprised me. I was expecting potato chunks in the curry but the "noodles" contraption are actually the potatoes and soften when steeped in the curry.

NOSA: The pork shank was perfectly tender. I've never had pork in a curry so this was a pretty interesting experience too.

FOLLY: A warning on the portion size i.e serves two for the curry would most certainly have come in handy.

NOSA: If the burger looks overwhelming in the pictures, it was even overwhelming-er in person. 

Just look at it...

Cheese, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Onion Rings, Gherkins, & Slaw

Cheese, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Onion Rings, Gherkins, & Slaw

NOSA: The bun on the burger was a bit weak. No structural integrity and the thing kept falling over the place. Talisman more than made up for it with the patty though. I ordered mine medium and it came just as ordered. Burgers at up scale restaurants can be a bit boring because they shoot for the top ingredients at the expense of flavor. 

...sophistication can, at some level, cause degradation, what economists call “negative utility”.
— Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. Skin in the Game. Allen Lane, 2018.

I won't lie, I fall for the jig at many an expensive restaurant. They charge a premium for the ingredients and the experience, but they forget the burger should actually taste like something the diner should want to eat again. The Talisman Burger, though, is unlike those. It ACTUALLY tastes really delicious and that is the only metric that really matters. 

Talisman Creme Brûlée

Talisman Creme Brûlée

FOLLY: I rounded things up with my favorite dessert of all time: Creme Brûlée. I wasn't too keen on Talisman's style of serving creme brûlée from the refrigerator because the sugar top was no longer crispy and crunchy (my favourite part) and was completely malleable to my spoon just like the custard. 


VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Feta & Coriander Samosa - $1.50 per piece

Twice Cooked Pork Belly - $10.50 

Talisman Beef Burger - $15.50

Thai Red Curry - $18.50

Creme Brûlée - $9.50

(You pay in Kenyan Shilling though)

 

RECOMMENDED DISHES

Feta & Coriander Samosa

Talisman Beef Burger