New culinary experiences is what I’m all about and when my friend Mahesh said we’re taking a road-trip to San Diego to eat at this Kenyan restaurant, I was all for it.
I won’t lie and say I didn’t have any reservations because I’ve had African food before (Ethiopian) and I didn’t like it so there was definitely a little skepticism going into it.
The restaurant was brightly colored and the music was lively and festive. Our server was very accommodating and patient explaining certain things to me. Mahesh has been here before so his input was very valuable as well.
In reality, it wasn’t that difficult to order. You choose your entree and then pick your choice of “staple” which is your starch, and then your vegetable.
Chicken Curry ($8.99 lunch/$10/99 dinner) is seasoned with traditional African spices and cooked in coconut milk. There isn’t much heat to it so it will appeal to those who can’t take the heat, but it is delicious and creamy. We paired it with Chapati, an African flatbread thicker and denser than its Indian counterpart and Sukuma Wiki — collard greens mixed with cabbage sauteed with garlic and spices.
Choma ($9.99) — Kilimanjaro Beef Skewer — was recommended by our server. Large chunks of beef is marinated in a sweet sauce and grilled. It was okay, the meat was a little tough.Both the Dengu — lentil curry cooked in creamy coconut milk and the Matoke — mashed cooked plantains — were a bit bland. This was my least favorite dish.
My favorite entree was the 1/2 Tilapia ($9.99 lunch/$11.99 dinner) sauteed in a creamy coconut and tomato-based sauce. The marriage of coconut and tomato gave it a wonderfully rich texture with a little bit of tartness. Pairing it with Nyoyo — hominy, red kidney beans, potatoes and carrots cooked in olive oil with garlic, tomatoes and onions was a really good decision as it was hearty and delicious.
Our staple of Ugali — steamed white corn flour mash — was interesting and I loved mixing it with the sauce from the tilapia. Ugali reminds me of the masa from tamales. The distinctive corn taste comes right through in every mouthful.
We also asked for a side of Wali — a tumeric-based rice dish. I loved its complex flavors including cardamom, sweet potatoes and peas.
When I return again, my choice would be the tilapia with ugali and sukuma wiki. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, how well everything was seasoned and how hearty and fulfilling our meal was.
Flavors of East Africa
2302 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104