Ranking high as the favourite Kenyan food, nyama choma (grilled meat) in Nairobi is more than a meal – it is an experience that fosters togetherness.
It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon in Nairobi. Clusters of friends and families have gathered in the well known nyama choma joints all around the city. Everyone is devouring roast goat, beef or chicken at tables, and drinking their favourite brand of beer or soda. A familiar aroma surrounds the place prompting you to walk to the main station to place your order. Typically, the ritual will include choosing fresh cuts of legs, ribs, and offal from a glass case with a side order of roast potatoes, ugali, vegetables and kachumbari (Kenya’s version of salsa). Depending on the number of people per table, 2Kg portion will suffice. Sometimes, a special order of mutura (blood sausage) or tumbukiza (cup of spicy soup) accompanies the meat. Most places source their meat from slaughterhouses in Kiserian, Ngong and Dagoretti which are delivered from midday having been slaughtered that morning. You can be sure that the cuts are fresh.
And just like that, the cook throws the meat cuts on the grill over glowing red coals. More than 45 minutes later, the cook brings over the charred sizzling meat cuts on a platter and slices them up quick and clean. All protocol observed in regards to hygiene, the eaters roll up balls of ugali, press it next to the nyama choma. Then they sprinkle some salt and dunk it in spicy kachumbari. After being stuffed, satisfied and connected with family and friends in a way that only a feast can bring about, they go on and enjoy conversations that make up a memorable evening. So where in Nairobi can one enjoy a hearty platter of nyama?
Just off Dennis Pritt road is what’s considered one of the best places to get that nyama choma fix. The signature aroma of meat cuts roasting on the grill tells you why this place is so busy. The car park appears adequate though when it gets busy, the vehicles park on the roadside too. Most people are drawn to Road House grill for their goat and chicken choma platters. Be prepared to wait for an hour for your grilled goat but it is well worth it.
The Eastern by pass stretch
Depending on which major highway you are driving on (Thika super highway or Mombasa road) turn off at the Eastern bypass, there lies a stretch of eateries mostly nyama choma spots. Here, you will find various kinds of roasted meats; beef, chicken, mutton, and pork. If you are on a road trip this is a perfect spot to stop and indulge or grab some for the journey. You should never miss to ask for some mutura.
About 10 Kilometers past Kiserian town is Ole Polos. Perfect for that Sunday afternoon plan, this simple nyama choma joint serves roasted beef, lamb and chicken accompanied with ugali, roast potatoes, irio and a side of green vegetables. As you wash down your meat platter with your favourite drink soak in the breathtaking view of the maasai plains. The set up features bandas and benches spread out across the vast landscape.
Sagret Hotel is not your usual nyama choma joint. They offer conference facilities and accommodation for organizations and groups. Sagret Hotel also sets itself as the meeting place where many of the who’s who, circling the country’s political arena, hob nob and have been doing do for over 20 years. Many people meet here not just for the delicious nyama choma variety but for camaraderie.
A nyama choma experience is not complete until one has visited the Carnivore restaurant. It is a sanctuary of perfectly prepared meat that will leave you wanting more. Whole joints of meat – leg of lamb and pork, ostrich, rump of beef, sirloin, rack of lamb, spare ribs, sausages, chicken wings, skewered kidneys, even crocodile – are roasted on traditional maasai swords over a huge, charcoal pit that dominates the entrance of the restaurant. The feeding experience doesn’t stop until defeat is declared by the guests who signal that enough is enough by lowering the white paper flag perched atop the central tray.