Tuesday was panning out to be a lazy day. Those days where nothing exciting seems to be happening, your phone is dry, most of your friends are at work, emails are boring and lackluster and most importantly you are not getting any M-PESA notifications, and we know how those can turn around a mood. The sun was out showing off, but with the current economy, everything makes you angry-even enjoying the sunshine feels like a burden, and at any moment someone might decide to introduce a weather tax that you have to pay whenever it rains or whenever there’s sun. At this point, we are in the tax Olympics so nothing will really surprise us.
I was in the process of deciding on whether to prepare a lazy meal; bachelor-style noodles and eggs. At that moment I got a phone call. It was a lunch invite to Al-Yusra. Of course, that was a no-brainer if their online presence is anything to go by. There was no way I was going to miss the chance to indulge in their meaty Afghan cuisine over cold passion juice on a hot day. So quick shower, small arimis for the skin, and a dash of cologne I headed out.
If you are not familiar with Al Yusra they have a new branch that’s at Postbank, on Market Street (linking Muindi Mbingu St. and Koinange St.) opposite City Market. Having been allergic to the Nairobi CBD for a while this piece of information helped me locate the place. Besides, if we are being honest most of us know of Postbank but are not quite sure where it is. But, like a light bulb switched on, you quickly find your bearings once City Market is mentioned.
I got to the location around 1:43 PM, smack in the middle of the lunch hour but with the beauty of close to zero traffic. The place is pretty easy to find, and it is located in a deep pocket of the Nairobi CBD that is averse to loud sounds of annoying Matatus and recklessly hooting cars. As you get inside you are welcomed with the aroma of enticing food and a waitress who escorts you to a seat and promptly gives you a menu so as to decide what you want to have. In addition, the air inside is cool it feels like little angel wings are massaging your skin shedding off the stress of being in a stuffy bus and rubbing shoulders with grumpy Nairobians going about their business.
On recommendation I opted for the Afghan Mutton Pulao and of course, cold passion juice for the heat. Here is where the service completely outshines most restaurants in the city. A side disclaimer: no one knew who I was and what I was there to do. The juice came pretty fast – and it was cold. Not the kind of cold that could trigger tooth sensitivity but the cold that goes down your throat and caresses your gut and finally gives you that feeling of “aaaah” satisfaction.
The food was hot on its tail, and I must commend the team at Al Yusra for that. The wait time is approximately 3-5 minutes. Al-Yusra is not a fast-food restaurant, so this means there is a lot of meticulous logistics planning in the kitchen to achieve this feat. Although at first, I was skeptical and thought what if I was getting microwaved food? In the restaurant business, different people use dubious means to serve their meals – but this was not the case.
The first thing I tried was the mutton itself in pure Kenyan fashion – you just have to try the meat first. The meat was like a silk dress on a well-oiled body, and it fell off the bone without much fuss. It was love at first bite as it was beautifully flavored and perfectly salted. With advice from a seasoned Al-Yusra patron, I had to dip it in the natural yogurt that comes with the meal, and let me say it was an orchestrated symphony of delectable flavors singing in harmony entertaining my taste buds.
The rice also did not disappoint and the fact that they had dates as well offered a delicate balance between sweet and salty, so every bite was a unique experience. But we need to have a serious discussion with the chefs at Al-Yusra – those portions are insanely large. No, do not reduce them but at least give us a warning beforehand. I had to request a takeaway container because if I attempted to finish that meal on my own I would have to fast for the next 6 business days.
So, if you are looking for a decent lunch spot with great food, great service, and a decent ambiance Al-Yusra Postbank branch is the place to go. You will love everything about it and get value for your money. For all the guys living alone, it is also a life hack because once you have lunch there you will have enough left for dinner too just make sure to request a doggy bag.
Last minute addition – a friend mentioned that they make the best tea on this side of the Sahara and that is something I will have to try. A date maybe?