So, I visited Kenya today! Ha! I wish I was on a flight. I’m longing to visit Africa.!
In my home, Nigerian cuisine is by default. I absolutely love trying new foods and visiting restaurants from other countries and experiencing other cultures through food, their versions of the common dishes, and especially from Africa. With that being said, I’m always excited about tasting Jolloff from other African countries besides Nigeria. My last 3 attempts were unsuccessful.
I recently visited Swahili Village; a Kenyan restaurant in Maryland. I’m not crazy about the location because it is in a shopping center and parking was a bit hard to find, but once inside the 1st thing I noticed was how busy it was which gave me high hopes of getting some good East African food. In fact, there was a line as we were heading out.
The atmosphere was relaxed but noisy. I loved the decor, it was warm and crowd was a little diverse with various accents. The noise level kind of made it a challenge to have a conversation without having to elevate your voice but that’s not something that can’t be controlled. People get sociable when eating and having a good time; it happens. They also had music playing in the background which I enjoyed when I was able to hear it.
When I dine at a themed restaurant I kinda expect to feel like I’m in the moment. I want to experience the authenticity of it all. I want to hear the music of that country, I want to feel like I’m sitting in an establishment right there in that neighborhood, in that country. I’ve never been to Kenya but I didn’t feel like I was there either.
Did I expect to be surrounded by a safari of animals? Ha!
Now to the food. I immediately scan the menu looking for the Jolloff. We don’t see it. I look at my husband in confusion. I felt like it was a wasted trip but I still wanted to explore. After getting over the fact that we weren’t going to have Jollof
We ordered; Mbuzi Kaanga (char-grilled goat), Samaki Wa Mchuzi (deep fried fish with a masala sauce), Ugali, Ndizi Kaanga, (plantains), and Pilau (seasoned rice).
We asked our waitress if Kenya had a version of Jolloff. Her response was they had seasoned rice. Did she know what Jolloff was? I ended up ordering brown rice and hubby ordered Pilau (seasoned Basmati). We both received the same rice… Um, okay. I don’t think she was Kenyan.
We asked Google if Kenya had Jollof rice and she said Pilau. Okay, it’s settled. They don’t. And yes, I called Google a she because it knows everything so obviously… (bougie girl hair flip goes here.)
“ I enjoyed our food. ”
Lol, I eat off both plates! I always enjoy goat. It was seasoned well. I don’t think that can go wrong. The only dish I didn’t care for was the Ugali. Not to say it wasn’t good, it just wasn’t for me. I expected something totally different but purposely ordered it to try something different. It reminded me of Nigerian Fufu or Pounded Yam which I don’t care for either. Ugali is made of cornmeal which it didn’t taste corny to me. In caparison, all 3 are white in color and have no flavor. The only difference it has from Fufu and yam was the texture, and I’m really picky with the texture of my food. Surprisingly, hubby didn’t care for it either. it is definitely something you eat with the stew like the others mentioned.
The Masala sauce on the fried Tilapia was delish! Took up half the plate. Curry colored with a hint of coconut flavor that reminded me of a crab dish I recently had at an Indian spot.
Now, off to the rice. No, it wasn’t the Jollof I came for but it was still delicious. It wasn’t dry and it was seasoned but subtle. Not spicy at all. The color reminded me of Ghana Jollof but thankfully it wasn’t!
The drinks seemed to be overpriced compared to other restaurants for the same size though, I really wasn’t in he mood for a drink. I really only cared for the food, the culture and style of cooking.
Price point- For both dishes with 2 sides each; the tab came to about $53.00. A little bit overpriced in my opinion but till not too bad.
Overall, the food was good. I’m not raging over it but would go back? Yes. It really was delicious. The portion sizes was descent as well. Collectively, we agreed on a score of 7 out of 10!
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