Hungry, broke and care less about class; best joints in Mombasa’s CBD

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Very sad, 8 out of 10 Kenyans go to bed hungry or without sufficient food. What should you do to avoid starving in such a hot and expensive city?

First, you need to understand that your eating habits present unique preferences for the place, food and even decorum. Being broke, therefore, should make you adaptive. Here is a list of places you could eat clean and fresh and hopefully nutritious food for less than KSh 50.

Breakfast like a king

Kings only ate in palaces, for you, that’s your home. It’s now very easy to prepare a balanced and heavy breakfast and still keep your punctuality. Then you have to carry it around to work… but you’re not that type!

There is an open park right behind Posta or Bima Towers, along Baluchi street to MKU. There you have about twenty food vendors serving fresh hot favorites… I once indulged a cup of tea at 645am, there were 5 neatly diced mahamri soaked in half mahagwe ya nazi. The rest was vitality till 4pm. All along I had unlimited open skies and chit-chatting and freedom to break table manners; for KSh 50. Later in the morning, I went and met a project partner and County Officials at Blue Room and boldly ordered for a cold 300ml coke.

If you are driving, sorry I meant if you were walking from Likoni towards town and crossed the ferry, there are a possible fifty food vendors in makeshift bazaars within the matatu terminus. These are more daring and by 6am the menu is ready, I’m talking ugali kuku, chapatti pojo, even boiled arrowroots and other classified diets. I love the fact that food is served hot and due to the traffic, it actually exhausts by end of day. Good news, there are functional toilets in the vicinity, just in case.

Lunch with workmates

Someone introduced me to the habit of eating fruit salad for lunch, it’s not my thing. But I was broke once and it made plenty of sense.

We walked to KBC offices right at the corner of Ngonyo road. There is a kind-hearted gentleman and this is his office, an old mkokoteni. It was laden with more fruit than was necessary. My guy simply asked for mix and the gentleman went to work. Mine was first; watermelon, bananas, avocado, mango, pineapple and beet were chopped into a plastic rack. I couldn’t hold it with one hand, that’s why I loved it. He passed me a tooth-pick and I was busy for the next ten minutes. I had boosted my immunity and my feel-good emotions and most importantly, I was full for just KSh 50.

There is a Kibanda right off Chief Ali Bin Naam road. Can’t forget it. Women of Ugandan descent would set in at around midday and boy din’t they make awesome fish curry and most tender of beef. It was expensive. They also had limited sitting space, that I hated. But they offered Githeri nusu (half a plate of gravy) and once I mastered it and were lucky, because githeri’s sufuria would always sit by the beef’s, I would tell the lady, “Mama, kasupu kiasi”. She would add the soup and as she did, a piece of beef had a bad (good) habit of accidentally hopping in. That’s a balanced diet don’t you think?

Chilli and drinking water were free. After that I would sit anywhere for KSh 50.

4 O’clock drink

No one does better Kahawa tungu than Kenyan Somali’s along bondeni. Let me break it down for you: coffee beans are roasted right in your face, they are crushed, masterfully, with mortar and pestle together with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and countless other aromatics. The mixture is carefully poured into boiling water and allowed to agitate and froth. Sieved into your cup. Sugar is optional, especially when taking the coffee with ufuta or njugu.

Try it and make sure to sip slowly and observe as your hard thoughts lighten. It’s a perfect combo when a father figure is around and you want to talk deep things slow and easy. Damage, KSh 50 for two.

You might prefer something cold. This takes us to a joint in Saba, at the intersection of Ronald Ngala and Mombasa roads. Heading town, on the left, at the Saba bus terminus, is a string of young men whose industry is serving mango, avocado or tamarind juice. If it makes you feel “cool”, you could have cocktail, not in the layers they give at Red Rose restaurant but if you could have it chilled and at KSh 50 for two, who cares?

There is also another treat off Saba towards  Mwembe. Specifically at Hairaf Cafe past Simba Coach. It’s the busiest sugarcane crusher in the Island. You simply choose the cane and then they clip off the husk with a knife, drive it into the crusher and sieve pure syrup at the base. Two for KSh 50. There is second crusher right outside Ukay the home of grilled chicken. You can’t miss it, Nawal Shopping Center is just next.

Now to something indigenous, taunted to cure, detoxify and restore libido. Back to MacKinnon Market, cross the road to Equity Bank Digo Branch. The first lot serves faster and their Madafu are tastier. But they offer nasty broken seats, just stand.

When you order, request for the more mature one, “ya nyama” its sweater and once drained the vendor scraps off the tender nut for your pleasure. Damage KSh 30.

Dinner with a lover

Most people believe and falsely so, that love is a feeling. Well it is, but at the crushing site, beyond that, its hard work and investments. Scientists call it sacrifice. Well how do you treat your gal at some odd broke day of the month? Let me help you.

You probably know Baroda, its along Digo Road. A few paces behind, towards Markiti (Mackinnon Market), at the huge round-about where Mwembe Tayari road junctions in, right about Barclays Bank, in fact, I will have you move up along the sidewalk of the bank towards Mwembe. First, second, third block we’re there. At night, all these shops close and vendors convert the corridors to restaurants. They’re also well lit by the street and security lighting, at times by the moon and therefore feel safe.

Anyway, my story is about these two young men who have invented a way to make pizza the Swahili way. True. I am not authorized to reveal their recipe, but as you eat it, I promise you a personal encounter with a sense of eggs, veges and minced meat, and other more sublime spices deep within that spongy wheaty stuff. You could actually follow the procedure since the thing is done right before you.

What I loved most, is that they have a clean and spacious sitting area. Matatus to any destination also pass right by and the location allows you to bargain. Most important is the night view of the city, the innovation of Kenyan youth and the fact that its just you and her. Romantic.

If you are with a fellow hustler or alone and need the mtaani reviews of Kenyan politics or the English Premier League or just some local nasty jokes… where else than Mwembe itself. At two joints I have been to, coincidentally, they are both at opposites of the great Mwembe Tayari round-about. It’s just a huge table and sitting benches all round. It will be the biggest heap of mahamri you have ever seen, millions. Once your tea or an imitation of the Kahawa Tungu is served, you just gorge to your fill. Drinks are KSh 10 add 8 mahamri… your bill, am afraid is KSh 50.

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