I asked Alice Mutuli, the beautiful and gracious, former Miss World Kenya finalist on where she has ever taken the best lunch in the CBD.
“That would be Valley Coffee Restaurant at Yala Towers, (along Biashara St near the Koinange St. Junction). Try their goat ribs, very nice,”
Valley Restaurant is one of the middling restaurants in the upper parts of the CBD. Seated on the third-floor of the newly-built Yala Towers (been around for nearly five years now), it is easily one of the coolest places for millennials who want to catch up and chat over some coffee, which is their specialty. But I don’t take coffee.
I had been to the restaurant. I didn’t mind their tea. Neither did I their mushroom fries, though the portion was a bit small for a tall, fat, Omogusii.
But I rarely frequent there, because it is way far from the centre of the city, but mostly because their WIFI, was frustratingly crappy. I’m glad they fixed it and now you can happily browse as you sip your coffee.
But when Alice told me that they have good goat ribs, I promised that at the earliest opportunity I will try them. You can trust Alice’s judgment.
Last week, I was supposed to interview some upcoming musician. She made me go all the way to Riverside Drive only to tell me that she had switched to Mombasa Road without notifying me. Feeling wasted and frustrated, I decided, it is about time I tried the goat ribs and strike it off my bucket list.
The entry to Yala Towers is hardly welcoming. Whereas the building is new and always sparkling clean, the clothes’ stall on the ground floor hardly prepares you for the spacious restaurant on the third floor. Whoever who designed the place, did a good job because the sitting arrangement is conducive for a date or banter with friends. Yet, some seats offer the requisite privacy for a business meeting. Maybe to chew some cud over a proposal. I especially like the dark brown colour of seats, as it gives the restaurant some character.
When the waitress gave me the menu, I told her that I had heard of their famed goat meat, and she interjected me, “that would be goat ribs,” what they call Valley Goat in their menu.
She told me, it will take at least 10 minutes. Patience is not one of my esteemed virtues. And waiting makes so anxious and restless because my mind can’t work until I clear everything out of the way. But because of some deadline, I pulled my machine to pen a column which I had finished by the time a full plate of goat ribs and roast potatoes arrived.
It looked tantalizing. The portions were inspiring. Most restaurants owned by up-country Kenyan folks always have painfully small portions. But not Coastal, Somali or Uganda Restaurants.
Goat ribs call for proper washing of hands before you can devour. No cutlery nonsense. I remember one day we were having so much meat when a friend came and asked,
“Nah ii nyama yoote mnakula, kwani nyinyi ni simba.”
Now, eating the ribs made me feel like a lion. The chef does a good job to make them tender, and whatever spices they use, that is how ribs should be prepared everywhere in the world. The ribs can be served with anything from rice, to ugali, to potatoes (mashed, roasted or fries), your pick.There was a sprinkling of fried white onions. Whoever who discovered the onion and knew if we fry that thing, it can transform humanity was the original genius. I live for fried onions. It is the difference between good cooking and bad cooking.
“We don’t use any spice. The goat is just pan-fried and we use white onions,” the smiling waitress told me. She oozed that good charm your favourite young aunt, sister to your mum who used to live in your home gives.
Valley Coffee are kind enough. They insist on a balanced diet. Their salad, mostly tomatoes, lettuce, throw in some cucumber, white onions and that is some good roughage game, assuming it does not backfire. Food poisoning is quite common lately with restaurants.
The restaurant still offers a wide array of foods and snacks. Their fish looks yummy, so does their chicken wings which the waitress told I should pick on the next time. I still believe men should not eat birds, but, I can risk.
Valley Coffee also has a good balcony view that overlooks Koinange St. and the environs which offers a relaxing environment, clean, so to say given they are in the less crowded part of the city.