In Summary

  • My Sh600 mirza ghasemi starter was delicious but slightly overpriced for a stir-fried egg, aubergine, onion, tomato and garlic served with five small squares of flat bread.
  • When the main course was brought out, it was all I could do not to fall clean off my chair in disbelief.
  • The vaziri is a combination of two meat skewers; lamb (koobideh kebab) and chicken breast served with chips, a paltry cabbage salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and grilled tomatoes which were so charred, they looked like they had been scorched with a welding torch.

Looming above a low perimeter wall on Nairobi’s James Gichuru Road is a structure which, when lit at night, is reminiscent of a docked ship. This new addition to the city’s burgeoning food scene stands on the site where for many years, Spring Garden Chinese restaurant served Nairobi residents some of the finest Chinese cuisine in town.

NO ALCOHOL

Toranj is a Perso-Arabic halal restaurant with Italian and other international menus, and subtle contempt for anyone (like myself) who goes there and asks for an alcoholic drink. The proprietors expanded the floor space and added a storey to the old bungalow, creating large open spaces which can comfortably accomodate 200 people, making it a great spot to host events. Like a teetotallers summit for example.

There is ample parking space outside the compound and an even more secure lot at the back of the restaurant which opens up to lovely lawns with neatly paved walkways and an impressive water feature.

Toranj’s configuration is such that a diner can have different experiences, including al fresco, private dining and smoky hookah corners, a touch which I appreciate in eating establishments. While the décor and furnishings border on kitsch and cheap, Toranj’s well trained and friendly staff are evidence that a good investment was made in ensuring customer satisfaction where it matters most.

Looking at the menu, I was thrown by the exorbitant prices but encouraged by the exotic sounding Persian and Turkish dishes, reckoned that perhaps the offerings would be commensurate with their price tag. Boy was I wrong.

My Sh600 mirza ghasemi starter was delicious but slightly overpriced for a stir-fried egg, aubergine, onion, tomato and garlic served with five small squares of flat bread. When the main course was brought out, it was all I could do not to fall clean off my chair in disbelief. The vaziri is a combination of two meat skewers; lamb (koobideh kebab) and chicken breast served with chips, a paltry cabbage salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and grilled tomatoes which were so charred, they looked like they had been scorched with a welding torch.

At Sh1,780, I couldn’t (and still can’t) think of any justifiable explanation for the pricing, most of all because only the lamb skewer was above par. I have known more flavourful rubber toys than the chicken breast I was served and the salad was entirely uninspired.

It did not help my mood that I could not nurse my frustration with a stiff drink but I ordered an iced coffee which, thank God, wasn’t all bad. Oh, I forgot to mention that there is a complimentary welcome drink but even that did not blind me to the fact that I was ripped off. Kudos to the wait staff and hostess who were all very professional and took my complaints kindly.