K’OSEWE: Still the Best African Restaurant in the Nairobi CBD

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There are ten reasons why should eat at Kosewe Ranalo Foods on Kimathi street every so often, but I will give you the first three.

First, it is the only restaurant that set its own standard and has remained consistent more than ten years down the line. The fish you ate in 2008, is the fish you will eat there in 2018.

Secondly, it is the only restaurant in Nairobi that prepares ugali (brown and white) properly. In fact their Ugali is the SI unit of ugali perfection. Chefs from other restaurants and wives-to-be (at least for those being married to men from Western Kenya should go there and take notes). 

Third, their chef does not compromise on quality. Neither are their quantities small. Even the most gluttonous among us is guaranteed to eat to his fill. Every meaty serving they have-chicken, liver, kienyeji chicken, beef and mbuzi, is made in the way our ancestors would appreciate.

The true mark of quality in a restaurant is consistency. On that K’Osewe gets an A. 

I first went to Kosewe in 2008, with my friend David Osiany, former Rongo Constituency parliamentary aspirant. Back then, he was into student politics and we went in for some quick juice, before we hit the campaign road. The place left a lingering impression on me.

Besides, if you are from western Kenya, there are very few restaurants that know how to prepare ugali, like it is supposed to be.

Around the time, I was also bought fish, but I don’t know remember by who, and I loved it. It was affordable back then. And it became the place I went to, anytime I received my meager cheque as a writer. Six out of ten times, I always went for their fish, which is their specialty. Over the years, there have been complaints that they are serving fish from ponds, not from the lake anymore. The size of the fish at some point has been inconsistent but lately, it has improved considerably. I once had their coconut fish and to date, it is the most decadent, tastiest thing I have ever eaten in a Nairobian restaurant. A few times I do try their chicken, always kienyeji, and can be tough if you don’t have strong teeth, or the decorum to tear it apart without painting your table-mates with sauce. Can be embarassing if they are wearing white shirts.  But for simplicity, their beef, and mbuzi is just as good, though, for big-bodied people like me, the potions are not as good as we often wish.

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 K’Osewe in nationally famous for their fish.  Photo: K’Osewe Facebook Page


However, some of the meals in Kosewe can be dry. I don’t remember them serving any soup or sauce. The soup is always scarce. You can choke, if you don’t have juice or a drink to lubricate your throat, because their ugali is a bit on the hard side.

But their vegetables, mostly traditional are so well done, so healthy, that they can cure anaemia instantly. But you have to pay for them, they are never included in the meals that you buy so expensively.

For vegetarians, their sour milk, and greens are as a good a lunch as any you can have at home, if you have a good Kisii or Luhya wife.

But for the sake of a balanced diet, they always serve some kachumbari.  But what is really magical is their pepper. It is made by a witch, who knows what good pepper should taste like.

K’Osewe is both egalitarian but is also pricey. Even though their food is well made, the prices have constantly gone up, sometimes for no apparent reason. Yes, they serve additional portions of ugali for those with large appetites, and their fish can be as big as possible, but you can eat cheaply in other restaurants along Kimathi St.

That makes K’Osewe a special occasion restaurant for most people. But they do a good job. There is a Rumba band, if you are into live bands that gives a victory parade for your ugali and fish.

 K’Osewe is decidedly African, and one can argue, quite very masculine. May be because, men favour less junk. Women gravitate towards Java and the likes. For men, the older you grow, the more mindful you want to be of your health. Besides, if you are from western Kenya, there are very few restaurants that know how to prepare ugali, like it is supposed to be.

K’Osewe will remain a good fixture, but if only if they can maintain their prices at the current levels for the next five years, inflation notwithstanding. 

 They have lost some of our loyal clients because the prices are not pocket friendly. 


Verdict: 8/10. 


for ordinary people

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