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Tastes from Arabia

Aroma of delicious Middle East cuisines and generous portions at Villa Rosa Kempinski

The best thing about being a millennial living in Nairobi is the different types of cuisines available.  I mean we get to sample food from different continents and countries right in the heart of the city in addition to popular Kenyan and regional cuisines.

Take Arabic food, for example.  Recently, we loved the fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil as we sampled dishes on offer the Tambourin Restaurant at Villa Rosa Kempinski hotel.

A friend and former colleague at People Daily, Mwingirwa Kithure, now  head of public relations and marketing at the hotel, was our host. Those who have interacted with him know that he is tonnes of fun. He had requested us to “come hungry.”

Surprisingly, the establishment is not only known for good food, but also décor. It’s simple and minimalist; lot’s of orange, dark woods and modern authentic pieces of art. The dining room is low lit and you can feel the relaxed atmosphere as soon as you enter.

Once we settled in, we started off with a welcoming drink, the Victoria jewel cocktail. We were told it was mixed up by Evans Odhiambo, who said the presentation in the magic box “symbolises royalty, bed of roses (pink) that highlights Villa Rosa.” He recently won the Best Popular Cocktail at the Bartender of the Year awards.

I found the Arabic food different from others that I had tried elsewhere mainly because of the seasoning in the dishes. Trust me we had a full-on feast. The Tambourin team had put together such a lengthy list of dishes to sample and I fell in love with all. The menu was separated into cold mezze, hot mezze and desert.  Eggplant moussaka, which was a mix of, fried eggplant, tomatoes, onions and capsicum, was served with rice. I fell in love with it, keep in mind that I’ve always believed a meal without some meat is incomplete. This for sure was a plus. The curry was slightly spicy with just the right amount of salt – being neither too much nor too little.

The white rice was just fine but topping my list was the Jawaneh Dajaj. A platter of chicken wings with garlic, lemon fresh coriander and spices, so we got to share as a team. I enjoyed that bit as it made us mingle and know each other better.

There were other classic Arabic dishes on offer, such as hummus and samosa halloumi. Another truly amazing dish was the beef mixed with the chicken and lamb— one of the most succulent and tasty meat I’ve ever had.

Tambourin mixed grill lamb kofta, lamb kebab, shish tawook, lamb chops with Arabic rice. The ‘Arabic’ rice was well cooked and flavoured with cardamom so it was very aromatic.

There was a plate that was served with some mixed seafood platter, a mix of red snapper, calamari, shrimp served with brown rice. It did not top my list because of my seafood allergies.  However, it had an intense flavour, but the tangy sauce was a bit sour for my liking.

Not wanting my experience to end, I stayed for dessert where we had a selection of Arabic sweet such as baklawa, kunafa and stuffed dates. The night was spiced up with a belly dancer named Olga who was quite flexible and entertaining. However, for us, it was all about the food.

What a way to finish off the meal. I don’t normally enjoy desserts, but at the Tambourin, that was an exception.

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