Mothers seem to always know. They know when you need to put on a jumper because this 25 degree sunshine won’t last. They know when you need to get to bed early because you’re running yourself down and if you keep that pace you’ll end up sick. They know when you say you’re not hungry for dinner but when food gets placed in front of you, you’ll eat. They know when to surprise you with your favourite meal simply because you need it. Moms always seem to know.
I have very few memories from my childhood. I don’t understand how some people have memories from when they were 4. I think my first stream of memories start at around thirteen, at the earliest. Other than that, I have little memory blips here and there. One of those, is of a time when my mom blew my mind with how well she knew me. My mom had just come back from shopping with a pair of black and white polka dot pants. I must have been around 10 at the time. I thought they were the ugliest pants I had ever seen, I told her I would never wear them.
“Okay” she shrugged “Go put them in the wash then, we’ll leave them in your cupboard, maybe someone will want them one day”. You can guess what happened next. The pants were washed, put in my cupboard, and worn by myself until there were holes in the knees. Somehow, she just knew those pants were what I needed and (eventually) wanted.
You know how we each believe that our mothers are the best chefs on the planet? Well, Nyama Mama Xpress is bringing back some of that nostalgia with a modern flair. Ugali chips, sukumawiki with grilled halloumi cheese (the hipster-est of cheeses), Vikombes filled with alcohol, it’s really fun!
That being said, you’ve probably read a lot about Nyama Mama and have decided to one day visit it to learn what all the hype is about. Let me tell you, hype can be really detrimental to a place that can’t live up to it, but I really think there are some aspects of Nyama Mama that do.
When you go, here’s what you’ve got to try:
Succulent fall-off-the-bone ribs in a KILLER BBQ sauce. I think I saw someone say that they used Jack Daniel’s in their marinade? Whatever the case. These are probably some of the best ribs I’ve had in Nairobi
These cocktails were specifically handcrafted for Nyama Mama Xpress. These cocktails are so good that I’d venture to say they’re some of the best I’ve had in Nairobi. Too bad the ambiance of Yaya Centre food court isn’t necessarily the spot you want to hit before a night out with the girls but these cocktails might just sway me. I find most cocktails in Nairobi too sweet, I like to taste my alcohol, but this is a conversation for another time.
Feeling thirsty? Try the Blue Mount: chili-infused Don Julio tequila, sparkling wine, fresh pineapple, Aperol and lime (pictured above). I also really enjoyed the Hot Mama: tea-infused Gordon’s Gin (big ups my fellow gin drinkers), Mama’s blackberry and mint cordial, mango, lime, chai spices and mint. There’s only four cocktails on the menu but four is all you need. Not only are they quite delicious they’re also strong enough to make it worth paying the price of the cocktail (not the same can be said about several other establishments).
Lawd have mercy. It’s like they know my weakness: cashews, avocados, chillis. Check, check, check. This salad is refreshing and beautiful to look at (we eat with our eyes, remember?). Watermelon with avocado, chili, mint and cashew nuts, sounds weird but tastes amazing. I love that it’s different from salads you see on other menus. Feeling adventurous? Get it.
DO NOT LEAVE THE RESTAURANT WITHOUT A SLICE OF CHEESECAKE. Executive Head Chef Christopher Lewis has been a chef all over the world. He’s cooked for Jay Z, Beyonce, Ciara, Janet Jackson, Usher and more. On a part of his journey, he was also a chef at The Cheesecake Factory. For those of you who may not know, The Cheesecake Factory is a chain of 165 restaurants that started in Beverly Hills, California. The Cheesecake Factory is known (clearly) for their cheesecakes. Their dessert menu has up to 36 different varieties of cheesecake at any point in time. This is all to say, it’s probably safe to say, this man, Chef Christopher Lewis, knows his cheesecakes and he has blessed us with this knowledge out of Nyama Mama Xpress. Try it.
You’ve probably already heard and seen the ugali fries and grilled halloumi with tree tomato chutney circulating the internet. For me, these were okay but they seemed to be novelty items on the menu. Not necessarily done for flavour or reconceptualizing a classic dish but rather for the novelty and talk-ability. Nonetheless, they were good dishes, but they’re not going to be the dishes I return to Nyama Mama for.
I look forward to perusing through the rest of their menu. I definitely look forward to going back! As those of you who follow me on Snapchat know, I was very ill when I went to try out Nyama Mama. I’m sure it’ll be like I’m trying it for the first time when I go back.
Have you been? What did you think?