I haven’t been to Kenya yet but I hear the food is great. The people who tell me this seem to know everything about living in Africa and like to remind me I “haven’t lived yet.” There seem to be certain rites of passage I have yet to earn. Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro, having forty people virtually ‘like’ me with twelve babies on my shoulders, and prophetic hallucinations from malaria are all in the works, thanks for asking. Even though my passport lacks the official Kenyan stamp, I can at least cross Kenyan barbecue off my bucket list because they are serving it up in Kigali. Thanks to Grill & BBQ (which is also be known as Carwash 2), I’m a little more cultured.
Grill & BBQ/Carwash 2 is in Kacyiru, just off the road to King Faisal Hospital (the road between Umubano and the Engen Station on the ministries road). With King Fiasal on the horizon, take the first right hand turn and soon you’ll come upon a Heineken sign and another nondescript yellow sign reading Bar and Grille. That’s the spot! There’s usually a lot of cars parked outside. You can’t miss it.
The actual building is a huge house-turned-restaurant and if it weren’t for strict zoning ordinances I’d be convinced people do live there. If you want to eat inside, just pop your head through any door and find a room with a table or two. There are balconies with great views as well. I haven’t tried eating inside yet, though; it seems too easy to get tucked away in a room and forgotten about. But that may be exactly what you’re looking for.
The outdoors is nicest with three tiers of seating. Enjoy the top tier for the view or the lower patio for plenty of seating. In the middle is a u-shaped bar with a TV and likely a fun crowd. Sometimes they’ll set up a projector for big football matches. Actually, I’ve seen a lot of running meets on the screen. Probably because Kenyans have it right and value running. Let’s hope this means they’ll have the Olympics on 24/7.
You can’t beat the good vibes; it’s like Blues Bar meets House Party. There are few places where you can enjoy sitting in a garden with waragi bottles scattered about, and this is definitely one of them.
The very casual atmosphere makes it a great place to gather with friends. Thursday nights are especially lively with karaoke starting at 9 and going until question mark. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what time karaoke ends because the last time I was there I got roped into singing and fled immediately after. I presume it goes on pretty late. Expect bad singing and a good time.
They have a nice looking menu but you have to go for nyama choma, Kenyan barbecue proper. Two or three people can split the arm of a goat and be satisfied. Save for a few pieces (presumably close to the skin) it tastes less goaty than most brochettes I’ve had. The taste is, in fact, awesome – I don’t think I’ve looked at goats the same way since. For those of you who get antsy around goat, Kenyan barbecue may be your gateway. The dark meat was fatty but tender and kindly carved right at the table.
Nyama choma is meant to be a hands-on meal so take advantage of the bucket hand-wash service and forgo the fork and knife. Thanks to a friend, I’ve learned to order nyama choma with traditional side dishes, ugali and sukuma wiki. Sukuma wiki is a tangy kale dish that tastes a lot like sauerkraut but better. Ugali is that bland mashed cassava that is comparable to caulk but instead of tasting like glue it doesn’t taste like anything. It’s absolutely worth getting, however, because it pairs well with the flavorful dishes and helps make the meal.
The barbecue costs Rwf 5,500 and can feed two or three people. Sides are about Rwf 500 each and the portions are generous. I’d recommend splitting an ugali order between two people because I barely finished half of mine. The beer prices are standard – a small Primus costs Rwf 700 and a small Mutzig is Rwf 1,000.
All together, the traditional Kenyan meal is worth trying. It’s a nice change from Rwandan fare and I’d recommend giving it a shot. Carwash 2 got Kenyan barbecue right. But I’ve never been to Kenya, so what would I know?
Hours: Everyday 8am to 12am
Phone: 0788 826 195