My family lives in Mombasa which means I am in a constant state of perpetual homesickness. Homesick for the family, for the comfort of laughter and more importantly, for food. Wholesome food that does not confuse or complicate the palate. Food that reminds me of home and what it feels to belong. It’s not easy to find such places but when I do, I shout about it until readers like you feel what I feel. Here are a few places that made me feel less homesick:
Located at Westfield Mall on Gitanga Road, this spot has been open for about three months now and has an airy feel to it that immediately reminded me of Mombasa. If you’ve walked around Mombasa a lot, you’ll be familiar with the restaurants that are almost pressed up on the side of the road, large windows, open airy spaces and wafts of amazing food floating around you. That’s what Manara felt like to me. My family and I sat down and marvelled over the decor that was simple but obviously crafted with love.
Being a person who is always hungry person, the menu was a delight for they have lots of pictures of their actual food (Hurrah!) and when our order was being taken by the gracious host Yusuf, we ordered food for six people (we were three). If you come across a menu that has Mahamri and Baazi, Biryani, Mezze, Mandi, Shawarmas AND Baklava, you would over-order too. No regrets! The food was so homely I felt like I knew the people who made it (maybe my mother had snuck down here and cook for me?). That was unlikely but that’s how good the food was. It was the epitome of that warm fuzzy feeling. And their tamarind juice? Not too sweet or bitter but with enough of a kick to know this is not your regular. It was surprisingly ideal with the meal and a soothing drink for the night.
I do not have enough space to talk about all of the food that was ordered but allow me to gush about the mezze that came with grilled meats, pickles, hummus, tabouleh and baba ganoush. It is my favourite meal in general but these guys made it even better. The servings were perfect and everything made with precision that I adore. Then, there’s the Mandi. Rice and mutton with caramelised onions to make a sweet and savoury dish that should come with a “causes abrupt naps” warning.
After this show of eating more than I can handle, we met the owner Khadija whose excitement for her work humbled me. Khadija started off cooking at home and making deliveries until fans kept pushing her to open her restaurant and she finally did. This loyal fanbase shows because even at 10 pm at night, people linger and some, like me, need to be rolled out. I review a lot of restaurants and that brings me so much joy. This one though, this restaurant left me elated. You can find me there on Sunday’s drowning in their Mahamri.
P.s: After the meal, we were served mint tea and I believe this should become a staple everywhere.
The Food Movement
I do not like long drives. I know it’s become the ‘in’ thing to do but no sir, I will not be jumping on that train. I would like my food close or even better, brought to me. Here’s the thing though, it’s my job to find new places to eat, with no bias. No matter the distance or cuisine, I will be there to try the food and tell you all about it. Therein lies The Food Movement. Located in Kilifi so many kilometres away from the road, I actually thought we were lost for a second. But that was part of the charm! A little hideaway spot that is unassuming and casual in the way only people on the coast can pull off. The space is also surrounded by creative spirits all busy with their own little projects as well as a beautiful farm that surrounds it.
After the long drive (during which I had nothing to eat), we finally reached the end of the labyrinth and met the owner Warren Wilson, an eccentric dreamer with a vision to create and a passion for food that led to the invention of The Food Movement and his menu. Having heard about this place from the Nomad team, I was already encouraged to try the Salmon and Mahamri but it wasn’t on the menu anymore. According to Warren, the menu is flexible and changes as the seasons do; he said it’s his way of making sure no one gets bored and that it allows the kitchen to continuously create.
In true Yummy style, we didn’t pick off the menu but allowed Warren to surprise us so after a few minutes of anticipation came Mahamri, Avocado, eggs and tamarind sauce, then fish tacos made with chapati, then a beautiful Kuku salad with breadcrumbed oyster mushrooms and finally for dessert, Mahamri stuffed with vanilla ice cream plus pineapple roasted with cinnamon. Everything was heartwarmingly delicious and dangerously addictive (I will be going back there for that mahamri every time I’m on the coast).
Interpretation is a beautiful thing. What The Food Movement has done is created fusion meals inspired by traditional Swahili meals and he does it so well!
The Food Movement is open Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm and you can easily find their pin location on Google.
The Shack Nairobi
The Shack has a new location and you know we had to try it! In addition to their space at Magharibi Place, they have opened a new funky food truck at One-Stop Arcade in Karen and another at Sarit Centre. Go hungry because their burgers will leave you unbuttoning your pants. Try the three-patty Shack Tower or their beef, chicken and steak patty Shack Powerhouse, you will not be disappointed.