Eating out: New Afro-asian menu for your Nyama delights

Fried matumbo bao and barbeque chicken at Nyama Mama Xpress. 

Photo credit: Madame Connoisseuse | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The first dish that caught my eye was a fried matumbo bao. Say what?
  • Bao is a soft steamed yeast-leavened stuffed bun that's typically filled with a pork mixture in countries such as China.
  • To fill one with matumbo and make it familiar to a Kenyan customer while still introducing them to new cuisine is very clever.

Who remembers when Nyama Mama opened their first branch in Nairobi and had all the foodies talking about their ugali fries? I've been meaning to make some for my grandma just to see how she takes to them. Known for their innovativeness in the kitchen, when I heard that Nyama Mama has launched a menu which combines African dishes with Asian street food, I was instantly curious and went online to look up their menu.

The first dish that caught my eye was a fried matumbo bao. Say what? Bao is a soft steamed yeast-leavened stuffed bun that's typically filled with a pork mixture in countries such as China. To fill one with matumbo and make it familiar to a Kenyan customer while still introducing them to new cuisine is very clever.

So I placed an order and got three for Sh450. The bao tasted a bit like a pizza base, only much softer and fluffier, and the kachumbari and matumbo stuffing garnished with dhania was a hit in the house. Other types of bao on offer include mbuzi choma and tusker paneer bao. Other Asian dishes include momos and ramen noodle bowls with varieties of broths such as Malaysian Laksa, Vietnamese, and Szechuan at Sh400 each.

The Kenyan in me simply couldn't resist the mama's family platter combos which were an array of meat served with chips or vegetables and kachumbari (although there are a variety of sides such as chapatti, mukimo, rice or ugali). There is a mbuzi combo with half a kilo mbuzi choma and grilled goat/lamb ribs which I seriously considered but eventually settled for the barbeque chicken combo. For Sh2,250, it came with half barbeque chicken which was juicy, flavor-packed and so tender the meat fell right off the bone. The platter also has lamb ribs and skewered beef boerewors which sort of resemble mutura.

With a second branch in Village Market, Nyama Mama Xpress is a limited-service diner where you can grab a quick bite on-the-go. Or, like me—too lazy to whip up lunch on a Wednesday— you can easily order in a Kenyan cuisine or a favourite Asian snacks that your will probably never whip up in your kitchen.

Thanks to my mom, I also got the Nyama Mama iced tea which isn't something I would typically order because I just don't get Kenyans' obsession with tea. My mom will ask me to make her a cup of tea smack in the middle of the day, even when the sun is scorching outside, another one at 4 pm, and yet more just before bed. And isn't iced tea just strong tea that's been chilling in the freezer or with some ice cubes in it? Why on earth would anyone order that? Dubbed blue pina colada, which in my books is a cocktail, it looked and tasted nothing like I remember tea tasting 10 years ago. I'd order it again.

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