Njoki Munene gives a descriptive experience of what restaurants and she found liked on her trip to Lamu.
“A dream come true” would best describe the feeling of landing in the exotic city of Lamu. Not only is the weather amazing and the people kind-hearted but the food is to die for. Here are the must-visit restaurants in Lamu.
Kijani Roof Top Restaurant & Bar
Of all the places I visited in Lamu, this had to be the most rewarding. It’s calming white interior was spiced up with a beautiful aqua blue floor and rustic chairs that added a slight sophistication to its ambience. The restaurant overlooks the ocean and in between, the leaves of palm trees hang, letting rays of sunshine sneak through into the restaurant – magnificent. As a lover of Japanese cuisine, I was delighted to see that the menu had a couple of Japanese starters, with a twist, of course. My favourite dish was the miso soup with clams. Clams! What a brilliant way to switch it up with an added touch of something fishy. Another must-try is their molten-lava chocolate cake which is worth the wait!
It comes as no surprise to me that the à là carte menu at the Majlis restaurant came with no prices besides its meals. From the moment we got off the boat and landed on the clear white sandy beaches, we were awed by the simplicity and use of Swahili architecture. The restaurant is surrounded by large stunning murals that give character to the white walls. Yummy! That is the one word I would use to describe the food at Majlis. It was a lovely blend of International and Swahili dishes served by the kindest people. I had grilled prawns that came with a side of steamed rice. The prawns were well seasoned and came with a dipping sauce that was out of this world and tasted like a mixture of a thousand island sauces and chilli. On the plate, there was a couple of slices of lime that when squeezed onto the prawns and dipping sauce gave the meal a hint of tanginess. It was simply a match made in heaven.
A hidden gem in a hive of activities, this charming little café in the middle of Lamu town was the last stop of our tour: Donkeys were parked at the entrance, hustlers on the floor shouting prices and hitting the donkeys with sticks to move them out of the way and I must admit, it was not the best welcoming to what I would later find out is a little piece of heaven. This surprisingly quiet space is divided into three parts, one interior sitting area and the outside sitting area divided by an old brick walk. All together this quaint oasis accommodates not more than 25 people at the same time. The walls surrounding the cafe are covered with green wall creepers that extend from the floor to the sky, creating a beautiful contrast between the shades of green and the clear blue sky. The food was fresh and created an exquisite blend of flavours that matched its ambience. In my opinion, they have the best coffee on the island, matched with tasty cakes, some of the best I have had in a long time (especially the coconut lemon cake). Not to mention their Date milkshake and tamarind juice on a hot afternoon to reboot and refresh your body after a long, hot day. Delightful.
Moonrise, the Lamu House restaurant set on the beautiful and exotic guest house and created with Swahili-style architecture, offers mouth-watering dishes and complimentary breakfast for guests. The menu caters to all tastes and dietary needs. It’s a kid-friendly spot, perfect for groups intent on holding parties and the fact that they serve both local and international cuisine shows they’re keen on offering the best.
Here are other places to eat from Nomad Magazine’s editor, Wendy Watta from her trip to Lamu:
Diamond Beach Village
This castaway-chic property has affordable to mid-range accommodation, with plenty of lounging areas and hammocks. The prices are a big draw for backpacker types, and they are known for their variety of delicious pizzas from a wood-fired oven, movie nights every Friday and the occasional full moon party. They are moving away from frying food so expect dishes like the very healthy baked vegetables with fresh red snapper fillet and blanched spinach. www.diamondbeachvillage.com
Get to know: Maskani Youth Initiative (Dada Swahili Cafe)
On a walking tour of Shela with Hakim, founder of Maskani Youth Initiative we discovered Dada Swahili Cafe. If you’d like to get a glimpse of Lamu beyond the incredible seafront houses and the golden beach, this is recommended. Maskani translates to a shared hang-out space. This cafe is where people come in to eat but often end up staying to chat about the projects the company is involved in. Maskani is keen to give more local artists a chance to fetch fair prices for their work. There is an office space, a library that welcomes book donations, and more. They are involved in so many projects, including an anti-jigger campaign that has already done tangible work in the past year alone, and a beach clean up initiative that’s keen to keep Lamu clean.