Enjoy around the world street cuisines, all under one roof

Thursday, July 1st, 2021 00:00 |
The street-art murals to stunning upcycled and reclaimed interiors, give patrons memorable experiences. Photo/PD/Gerald Ithana

Located in Nairobi’s Westlands area, this outlet gives you the experience of being in 11 different restaurants around the world in one go. It is a hub of all kinds of ready-to-eat delicacies, and its ambience is cosy and street-themed with graffiti on the wall,  stunning upcycled interiors,  giving you that 1970s vibe.

Faith Kyoumukama @martkinel

Let’s talk about food tourism. They say the best way to learn about a certain culture is through their food, Kenya is known for nyama choma  and ugali, Uganda is known for luwombo and matoke ,Tanzania is known for chips mayai and in Ethiopia we have the famous anjera.

Now times have changed and you don’t have to go to these specific countries to indulge in their cultural delicacies as different restaurants offer menus that are specially curated from different countries.

More restaurants are now serving aged meat, biltong delicacies popular in South Africa. 

The recently launched Nairobi Street Kitchen (NSK) on Mpaka Road in Westlands is the perfect example of a restaurant that promotes food tourism in Nairobi.

Just like the name suggests, the restaurant focuses on meals that are considered to be street food.  

The graffiti on the outside walls is bold and attractive, but when you get inside the restaurant it immediately sets you up for an atmosphere of glee.

The restaurant is aesthetically appealing, it’s one of those Instagram pic worthy spots, and if you are all about creating content, this might just be the place.

NSK sits on a plot that brings back memories of yesteryears, if you remember the ‘red-light district’, considered to be the most vibrant streets in the night in Westlands, then you might be familiar with this area.

From the outside, it looked like an abandoned old building with unkempt grass rustic surrounding it, giving quaint and queer feels.

I recall it was the go-to parking spot for revellers on a daily. But this has all changed in a few months when a concept that came up four years ago came to fruition. 

Alysa Poppat, the co-founder of the space with her sister Alyna Poppat says they started the works of rebuilding the space way before the pandemic hit.

She says things became extremely difficult after the government imposed movement restrictions around Nairobi, but they sailed through. 

The restaurant has an environmental friendly ambience and is practising recycling.

Repurposed shipping containers and buses are used as kitchens and dining spaces, which Alysa says is meant to promote a sustainable image for the restaurant.

“We wanted to reuse discarded items and practise recycling, because that is what we learnt growing up.

Our parents would tell us to go through the bin to get items to play with. That stuck with us,” says Alysa. 

Different cuisines 

Under the space, are a total of 11 restaurant kiosks and bars that serve different cuisines.

The NSK has the main kitchen, where food is prepared then sent to their different kiosks, for serving and plating. 

Right at the entrance is Desi Loco, which caters to those that love Indian street food, with the entire menu offering only vegetarian options.

For freshly made noodles, they have the Good Bar, which also has Ramen dishes from Vietnam and Indonesia.

If you love dishes such as tamales or tortillas, then So Senor will cater to your Mexican cravings.

Just beside the kiosks is the 1970 Volkswagen offering bar on wheels services.

In it, the mixologist could shake up a margarita, Mexican Mules or a Bloody Maria.

Then there is a Bird Exchange, which as the name suggests caters to chicken lovers. Chicken, skewers and some beefy meals are served at this restaurant.

There is also Split Milk, which is a coffee and tea shop and buttered buns, for the burger concept.

In a little corner is Library 68 named after the establishment of Simba Corp in Kenya and houses an archive of wines. They also have an ice-cream van on wheels, offering desserts and pastries. 

Right upstairs is the Social rooftop bar, which has Texan barbeque options and the likes. It’s also an area where people can host events and concerts.

It is here where you will find a cocktail menu with a story that describes a day in the life of a Nairobian.

NSK has localised their cocktails, they have names such as Kanjo, Masanse, Soo Moja, Tao Tao to name but a few.

I ordered a Kanjo and when it was ready, the waiters chanted ‘Kanjo’ ‘Kanjo’ in unison alerting me that it was ready, just like the hawkers in town do, truly such a Nairobi vibe. 

Speaking of local, in the outdoor area there are curio shops where brands can showcase their products.

In a rotational plan, the brands get to sell their made in Kenya products, whether fashion, alcohol or even décor.

To inspire and empower artists, the space has integrated elegant art by Kenyan artists, giving it tasteful accents in different spaces therein.

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