All restaurants that sell the famed Somali cuisine-Arosto-have something in common: they all have an extended balcony.
Curiously, most Somali restaurants are on the first floor in their respective buildings. Kilimanjaro Jamia is on the first floor of Kenwood House, to Jamia mall on Kimathi Street facing Equity Bank headquarters. Kilimanjaro is probably the most convenient and accessible of locations with a dash of privacy, if you will.
The cafe makes for such an amazing dining place considering unlike its peers, it’s only been in the city for about 3 years. Kilimanjaro lacks the Somali feel prevalent in all the other major outlets that sell Arosto.
‘We currently serve about 400 clients on any given day.’ Wanjau, the supervisor dressed in a white branded shirt with a red lining and collar, and a black trouser.
Their menu written on a thick pamphlet with a leather brown cover and laminated pages tells of an eatery that’s dedicated to providing no more than a dozen and a half dishes and lots of beverages. The arosto is served with white rice and gravy, or Pilau retailing at 250 and 330 respectively. It can also be served with a biryani accompaniment.
The main hotel space often seems full but not crowded with most people preferring to take up space on the long café terrace which extends from the side of the building on Kimathi street all the way to the back of the building facing the First Community Bank and Jamia mosque.
‘We have about 22 staffers.’ Wanjau adds before turning to his fellow supervisor, a hefty fellow in a similarly white untucked shirt, black trouser and sandals.
Their portions of arosto are plenty, consisting of soft, chewable servings. But you will get more meaty servings in Al-Yusra and Pronto. The spices are just the right amount and the frying couldn’t have been more accurate. By all estimations the arosto served at Kilimanjaro scores well, quite delicious.
Journalist Nyambega Gisesa about to devour the Arosto at Kilimanjaro
Definitely pricier than most hotels around the city, Kilimanjaro shares the same commercial building with the more famous eatery, PETMA and stands right behind the famed Al Yusra around the corner, same block.
‘Though we have a significant number of people who come in for breakfast most of our clientele check in from around 11 a.m. so we tend to have high traffic around noon and in the evening at around 5 p.m.’ Wanjau quips.
The two dining rows squeezed onto the terrace outside are obscured from the street below by a row of potted plants as well as the tree-line on Kimathi street right outside the restaurant’s massive windows frames.
The arosto is boiled soft while still bony, which is surprising given that most other eateries are keen enough to remove the bones from the meat serving.
The arosto is served with a salad made of lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, and carrot.
The accompanying rice with gravy is largely unremarkable save for the fact that the gravy is far much more nutritious than it is delicious.
‘We use onions, tomatoes, melted butter, and a few other notable spices.’ Wanjau the supervisor speaks up.
The curved extended terrace made up of alternating brown and translucent flaps in between metallic pillars and seems quite spacious on Kimathi street and grows narrower and more stuffed up in the area overlooking the First Community Bank.
Save for the shiny, golden Islamic chandeliers nothing looks remotely Islamic or coastal about the establishment whose main eating area is adorned by relatively large screens beaming local programs throughout the day.
The tempo is ever high at the open kitchen counter overlooking the man-eating area, and it is always manned by roughly 6 to 8 staffers waiting to pick their food orders.
In many ways Kilimanjaro is your typical modern Nairobi restaurant defined by dour brown leather seats, the endless chatter and hum of the clientele, the conveniently distracting television programs above, steady foot traffic, and large, spacious windows.
I would have given them a six or who knows, maybe even a seven out of ten save for the fact that I walked away with a debilitating food poisoning, thanks to their deceptively delicious arosto.