The greatest thing about having a second home? Watching that home grow into something incredibly exciting. Nairobi has been home for two years now and the food scene is changing rapidly, into a bold new and enterprising industry that is tapping into its inhabitants needs. One of these new venues is Nyama Mama, directly translated as 'Mother Meat' nestled in the carpark of an office block in the bustling neighbourhood of Westlands.
These food court hubs and now permanent restaurant at Delta Towers came onto the Nairobi food scene just one year ago and are already cornering the market. They brings Kenyan food with a twist to long term residents, tourists and the established Kenyan foodie crowd. It also features stunning decor, 'fundi' made furniture and that classic kitsch hipster style that Nairobi is right on the edge of embracing with a full African fold.
A group of bloggers, journalist and myself were lucky enough to be invited to the Media Launch of the menu and to sample a selected collection of breakfast, starters, mains and an array of cocktails that really packed a punch. As the menu was long and the portions large, this is a slightly different type of review. For those wanting to get a snap shot overview I've added a simple review score next to each item.
Mama's Medicine Collection
Mom's Pom 8/10
By far the top of the Medicine Trio, this cinnamon and cardamom infused delight is served on the rocks in a high ball glass from potion bottles imported from Germany. It conjures up images of sipping this smooth delight in an alchemists cave surrounded by jars of coastal spices.
Pith Helmet 7/10
Citrus simmering - this cocktail is a combination of coconut water, clementine, ginger and whiskey. Tangy and sweet - a must for those who like a citrus afterglow.
Charcoal Pit 3/10
Not my cup of charcoal but those seeking dark and brooding scents will find this a delight. Infused with chai bitters it also comes with a good hard lump of the dark stuff surrounded by tea flavors. If you are craving the taste of coal miner, this is for you.
Twisted Cocktails Collection
Honey and Chili Margarita 9/10
Oh baby, you are beautiful and you come with a finely crusted ring of chilli and rock salt that meets the sweet citrus taste of the margarita beautifully. As a long term fan of the Margarita, this twist with honey in place of sugar is an absolute treat on a sun soaked day in Kenya.
Charcoal Manhattan 7/10
Want to feel like you are being chatted up in a Mahogany panelled New York bar? Of course you do. Order this smouldering Manhattan, at minimum brewed for one week and funnelled with Bullet Bourbon and Martini Rosso, with the Chocolate Zucchini Bread for a perfect pairing. Just be careful if you are just getting started, it packs a wicked punch.
Spiced Dawa Daquiri 10/10
This by far is one of the best cocktails in Nairobi. It takes on the Dawa, the queen of the Kenyan Drink and shakes her around with the dirty Daiquiri to give you a cocktail featuring honey, spiced rum, cinnamon and lime juice. Take that dawa and make her dance.
Brioche French Toast with caramelised bananas, roast pecans and maple butter syrup 10/10
I'm drooling as I write this, and wondering when I can have it next. This breakfast is a real treat, the bread baked fresh daily in the kitchen and melting in your mouth as it moves with the soft sweet bananas, crunchy nuts and silky maple syrup. The french toast is for those who aren't counting calories anymore...just the days until they can have another portion.
Chai poached pear with honey yoghurt and almond granola 9/10
Pears perfectly poached. Fresh yoghurt with an even smattering of honey and crunchy granola. This dish is actually a winning combination with the French toast as it blanches the sweetness of the honey and gives a smooth fruity addition to the richness of the brioche. My only recommendation would be a little more granola.
Mama's Feast 5/10
Nyama's take on the continental breakfast, this ticks the boxes on your classic meat and eggs, featuring: sausages, fried eggs or omelette, halloumi, avocados and a fried tomato. The dish is a good alternative for that person you brought who isn't very adventurous, but if you wanted to come and give your tastebuds an adventure then I would skip it. The redeeming features however were the cassava hash browns and homemade bread, otherwise sadly a little similar to a chain hotel breakfast...
Fried Chicken Waffles 10/10
The crispiest chicken with the sweetest waffle covered in maple syrup gives this classic Southern breakfast meal a wonderful savoury and sweet kick. It's a big hearty portion, perfectly fried and expertly sweetened - fantastic for a Sunday hangover
Mama’s Cheese Pie 1/10
Oh cheese pie, such a disappointment even Mama’s upset. The cheese was tasteless, the pastry hanging with a soggy bottom and little flavor or flakeyness to be found. Avoid and take it off the menu – so many other winners to try here.
Banana Bread 4/10
Sweet but dry, the banana taste comes through and the edges were crisp and crunchy but overall it was heavy and lacked moisture. If this could be served with ice cream, fresh yoghurt or another accompaniment the Bread would earn a few extra points.
Chocolate Zucchini Bread 8/10
More like a cake, lava like and thick, with delicious dark cocoa oozing out from the middle served hot and rich. Would just score a couple more nods served with a side of cream. Excellent with a Charcoal Manhattan cocktail.
Chicken 65 3/10
The chicken was very soft and tender with a lovely coloured sauce but the flavor was lacking. Chef commented it should be sweet but if this had been hot or spiced with paprika or cayenne pepper then it would have been a winner. Side of chapati was again a little dry. Would recommend kitchen switches it up for rice and hits the spice.
Beetroot, orange and feta salad 7/10
Big chunky fresh cut salad with hearty cuts of each ingredients expertly placed so the beetroot doesn’t bleed into the white of the feta. Could have done with a tad more seasoning but if you love the beets then this is for you. If you want more wow factor go for the Squash Quinoa salad instead.
Chargrilled Githeri with Avocado and Kachumbari 9/10
Vegetarians – this dish is for you, a delicious stew of sweetcorn, blackbeans, avocados and tomatoes served hot and fresh. Absolutely delicious, corn popping in your mouth – perfection, just add a little salt and pepper as you see fit.
Goat Curry with chapatti 6/10
If you grew up with goat or are a fan of the lean meat then this curry is for you, with meat so sweet it falls tenderly off the bone. However I found it too rich but the surrounding sauce well spiced. Again, if I could swap out the dry chapo for rice this would have scored better.
Crispy Tusker BBQ pork belly with mashed sweet potato 8/10
I don’t eat pork so I’ll hand it over to my companion to describe. “Sticky cinnamon glaze, falls off the joint, soft fluffy mash, sweet and tender with the spices and Jack Daniels flavor permeating throughout. The skin could have been crispier, crackling would have been a bonus.”
Grilled Goat Leg 10/10
Choma Choma that goat! I take it back, I’m a goat convert!! This grilled goodness served up with crisp and salted Fried Plantain, soft Sukuma Wiki and spicy Masala Chips. Goat was soft and tender, sides were excellently matched – truly the star of the Mains offered.
Chocolate Sweet Potato Pie 6/10
Tasted like a thick cheesecake drizzled in chocolate holding its density and moisture perfectly. Great for the sweet tooths but may be overwhelming if you were just looking for a quick sweetfix as the potato gives you another big carbs boost.
Overall rating = 9/10
Nyama Mama is here to stay! The kitchen is quick, fast and fresh and working hard to reinvent some Kenyan classics as well as introduce a little more flavor to the Nairobi scene. In addition the décor is absolutely on point with colours, kitenge and confidence from the owners who worked hard to create a casual vibe that throbs with a busy lunch time crowd and sparkles at night. Although the menu was a little hit and miss for me there are other crowd pleasers on the menu I’d recommend over the ones featured here: Buttermilk chicken, Spicy dhal, Butternut and Quinoa Salad.