Ugandan restaurant wows Nairobians

Why you might have to wait for 30 minutes or more just to get a sit at the CJ’s table

Sometimes back on one of my foodie escapades, I  wrote about my experience at Café Java on Kira Road, Kamokya in Kampala city, Uganda. It’s actually my go-to place when I’m in Kla (Kampala) especially because of their diverse menu.

The Uganda-based coffee chain house has now pitched tent in Nairobi and is  causing a foodies buzz.  Sitting on the busy Koinange Street,  it has probably the best structural décor within the central business district.

CJ’s has two sitting areas, the upper floor offering a decorative spiral staircase. They have a few books with naked covers placed alongside antique vases.  You might have noticed the open kitchens such that a passer-by can see what’s cooking behind the glass panels.  

So we walk into the eatery at around 9am hoping to sample their menu, but — unfortunately —they are only open for breakfast for now. Since we are too hungry to wait, we opt to explore their heavy breakfast options.  I love their bold menu, which offers vivid and attractive photos of food. It’s divided into four sections­ —bitings, breakfast choices, mains and beverages. 

I love breakfast especially on the weekend because you get to indulge intensely. They have over 10 breakfast options but we opt to choose from their six combinations. Specifically Breakfast pancake Sampler, country steak and eggs, fried chicken waffles, grilled chicken and eggs, grilled steak with eggs and, lastly, the javas house breakfast option. All combos come with a choice of tea or coffee and juice, all at only Sh640.

I opt to try their fried chicken waffles. It is not the ideal chicken breast pieces instead but fried chicken strips served with poached eggs and maple syrup. They also offer a side plate of roasted potato cubes. My colleague tries out the basic java house breakfast, which has scrambled eggs, beef strips, toast and a side of home fries. 

To be honest, waffles and fried chicken is a weird combination. I don’t know the origins of this combo, but I think whoever came up with it must be a crazy foodie somewhere.  The chicken breasts are tender with a crunchy outside, the waffle is beautifully fluffy. It comes with maple syrup, which satisfies my sweet tooth and I like the meal as it is well portioned and tasty.

Surprisingly these two textures jell well together and the flavours complement one another. So if you find it a little strange like I do, well there is no better time to dive in and give it a try. 

You would wonder why one would wait for 30 minutes plus just to get a table at the CJ’s? All hype, some would say, but what makes them stand out are the food portions and quality. Their customer service is excellent. If you spill your juice, they refill your glass free of charge. 

In Uganda, they have eight branches and all operations are similar. Last December, we waited for almost 40 minutes due to large crowds. The difference is the waiting system in Uganda gets a bit overwhelming. Somehow, they always get a solution especially for those customers who tend to spend more hours chatting even after they are done with dining. 

I will give you free foodie advice before you visit CJ’s. If you don’t like to wait, go there when it is less busy — morning hours between 9 am and 11am is a good time.  Prices for main dishes range between Sh1,200 and Sh1,500 on the low. Drinks such as smoothies and juice also range between Sh300 and Sh550. They do not sell alcoholic drinks but you can sip on some Coladas, Nojitos and Lemondaes fruits boosters. 

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