Healthy eating at Marble Arch Hotel in city centre
The calming sounds of water from the visually stunning water fountain can be heard above the city lunchtime din. Some people are queuing for the buffet while others favour the a’la carte menu.
We are at Marble Arch Hotel, located on Lagos Road near the Nairobi Fire Station in the CBD. Since I am the let-us-have-breakfast-for-lunch person, I order a small serving of ‘arrowroot special’ (nduma) while my colleague, Paul, orders fries, fried fish and veggies.
There is a wide array of nutritious breakfast items to choose from, from oat pancakes, which soothe the craving of wheat without being detrimental to one’s health, served with a side of fresh vegetables and salad to enhanced porridge with nuts. The food arrives with the complements of Chef Charles Mbugua.
My ‘special’, served with a fried egg and steamed veggies arrives hot and steaming with a sumptuous sauce on the side. The ndumas are soft and well cooked. The egg is well cooked too, with a surfeit of onions and tomatoes, just the way I like it.
The veggies are crunchy and not oily like in some outlets. I steal some fish from my colleague’s plate… and some fries. Despite his choice not exactly being healthy, I find it quite tasty. The fries are browned and slightly hard on the outside while soft on the inside, they find a happy home in my tummy.
“We focus mainly on healthy dishes,” Chef Charles who has more than two-and-a-half decades’ worth of culinary experience, says. “We source for fresh and organic ingredients and use them to create delicious, yet healthy dishes.
We believe healthy does not have to be boring or expensive. If you want a bit of fast food such as what our friend here is having, you can have that too,” he adds with a chuckle.
Because one can never be too full, we decide to try a few more of their food options. Their vegetable tamu, a crowd favourite Charles says, is sumptuous yet healthy. I sample their githeri special too, re-igniting my love for githeri lost during my boarding school days.
We both taste Kimanga too, in part because Wanjiku wa Njuguna, an Inooro FM presenter, seems to be enjoying herself immensely. Made from nduma, ngwaci, spinach and carrots, this is a version of mukimo (mashed potatoes, beans and vegetables).
We cap our eating marathon sampling with a beautiful platter of fruits and some fresh passion fruit juice. As we sip the drinks, we ask what motivated the healthy menus and buffet offerings.
“We have initiated healthy diet themes across all our meals from breakfast, lunch to dinner with readily available vegetarian options and white meat options,” says Immaculate Kamau, the Marble Arch Manager who is also a Public Health PhD.
Immaculate, a passionate advocate for both healthy eating and healthy living, believes that nourishing meals can be just as delicious and appealing as fast food options. This is the gap she wants Marble Arch to fill.
“We should focus more on preventative measures rather than curative measures. Instead of saving people downstream, we should ask who is throwing them in the river upstream to begin with.
Poor eating habits and lack of exercise are the main culprits,” she advises. “We offer any dietary need or detox programmes that our client maybe looking for. Affordability is an added boon,” Immaculate says as we finish our drinks.