I’m back. That can only mean one thing: I am not LOST.
At least not entirely as I was the last time I blogged. Good news is, I was able to pay off my dreadful loan and moved to a new house. I am elated with the move because our previous shit-hole of a house was able to single-handedly bring out the COMPLETE WORST in me. Yes I blame the house for my being lost. That aside, today I want to talk about this super cosy place I have been to more than once. Asmara.
It’s an Amharic restaurant in the heart of Eastleigh, one of the many estates in Nairobi. Asmara is well known for its popular, finger-licking Ethiopian/Eritrean delicacies and really good music, so you don’t have to tell me twice to dine there. It comes with a shisha area for the shisha lovers and a section at the back for playing pool. The different experiences Asmara has given each time I have been there are much too memorable, some bitter-sweet, so let me take you back to my younger days a little bit.
Back when I was in my early twenties, I used to go rave any chance I got. Heck, I would even buy a lottery ticket if I had to, just for a chance at a night out. My three friends ‘Diane’, ‘Lucy’ and ‘Juliet’ were permanent accessories. On one bumpy Friday night back then, we didn’t have too much money, but we still wanted to have a good night out in town: we had to strategize. ‘Juliet’, the resourceful one amongst us, got us a few pints and the acquaintance of two ‘not-so gentle’ men, whose wallets we would be f*#king up. Obviously, the pint was to help us withstand their dreadful company and laugh at their ‘jokes’, or lack thereof.
These ‘not-so-gentle’ men took us to some place that looked like one of those roadside, drive-ins you see in ‘Westerns’, stuck in the middle of nowhere. There were no people, save for the staff, my friends and I. The place was so empty; you could hear the rats planning the next meal for the film Ratatouille. A night that was meant to be full of dancing ended up being one of complaints. After that night, I swore to never visit that place again.
Well, never say never.
A few years shortly after that experience, I got a boyfriend – those crazy types that can start counting hair because it is a different thing to do. He is quite the spontaneous one though, so one day he decided to take me out to a dinner of sorts. We went to a restaurant that I mentioned above as called Asmara, only I had no idea it was the same deserted place I had once been to. We got there at around 6 pm having skipped an evening class. While we were there, we ate, fooled around, some hanky-panky underneath the table, ate some more and fooled around even more. It was while we were at *it* that it hit me I had once been to this restaurant.
Just this past weekend, we were back at Asmara. At least this time I knew where I was going, and I was actually eager to get there; my then and still deranged boyfriend in tow. Hungrier than Siba’s husband before an episode of his wife’s cooking show, we headed to our corner table; the one with ‘fooling around memories’. Minutes later a young Ethiopian waiter came and took our order. Since we were in the mood to experiment, but had no idea what the many dishes on the menu looked or tasted like, we asked him to recommend something to eat. ‘Keyh Tibsi’ was his ideal meal of choice. I don’t even know what it means, but boy-oh-boy did the dish look scrumptious when it was served.
‘Keyh Tibsi’, whatever it directly translates to, is a meaty sensation that is wet fried in a mixture of Amharic spices. It is served on flat unleavened bread commonly known as ‘Injera’. The servings at Asmara are usually enough to feed two people; or so we thought. Cocktail juice for him, mango juice for me, as accompaniments completed the order.
After we were done with our meal, we decided to chill for a short while at the patio. Adjacent to an exit by the corner table, the patio has a barbeque area where patrons can have their meat roasted. The place doesn’t usually get too crowded which is good if you just want some alone time or some privacy. It’s the kind of place that repels the bend-over-dancing kind of crowd. We chit chatted away and before we knew it, we were hungry for another meal. That could only mean one thing….‘Waiter!’
The second meal was almost similar to the first but pardon my memory, some Aaliyah was playing in the background, so the name slipped my mind. However, it came with some stunning kachumbari, a mixture of onions and tomatoes cut into small pieces and normally used as an add-on in meaty foods. It sort of made the plate look vibrant, if you ask me.
Down to business as usual, the huge metallic tray was soon empty. I came across as a modern day Charlie Brown, the fictional character from Mario Puzo’s ‘Last Don’. Don’t judge, visit the place. You might just rival me to the throne of House Hog-ithian.
Total Expense: Kshs 1200 (can work for four)
#NP: Breathe Again-Toni Braxton
Illustration: Eugene Mandela