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Uganda

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As one of the few chowhounds resident in East Africa (at least I think I am) I just wanted to post a few suggestions for anyone who happens to come to Uganda:

Haandi and Khana Khazana--great North Indian places

Arirang--a vast Korean restaurant with an uneven menu

Outlook, Nicodemus, Yakobo's, Rise and Shine--some of Kampala's well-known pork joints

Mamba Point Restaurant and Mamba Point Pizzeria--high-quality Italian food and pizza

Parsi's--Persian good and good kebabs in the mall

Fasika--good-value Ethiopian food, Doro Wat better than their Tibs

Le Chateau--Belgian restaurant with Belgian beer

Two Friends, Gately on the Nile, Black Lantern, Ling Ling--some decent restaurants in Jinja, if you're at the Source of the Nile

Enjoy!

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  1. I've lately been partial to Zanzi pork joint. Used to go to Cave Down quite a bit, but Zanzi's taken over. (I'm in Ntinda so they are close)

    Mamba point definitely has the best pizza I've had here but usually get take out from Zannellos (I think that's the name) in Kamochya which passible. Haven't tried their indian pizza which sound pretty good.

    I liked Sitar for indian in Workers House, but just read today that it closed.

    Usually go to Viva for pallou.

    I like the Shawermas from the lebanese place in the food court at garden city. Have you tried the new lebanese place on as you enter the city from Jinja road (I think right after you reach Nandos but am not sure)

    I'm very interested in hearing of other places to try.

    6 Replies
    1. re: carlhaynes

      I haven't been to Zanzi's--I have liked Outlook because the pork is usually a bit spicy and different, but Outlook is not what it used to be. I'll have to try Zanzi's...

      The Lebanese place on Jinja Rd seems to be owned/managed by the same folks who used to manage the one near KPC in the Park Royal shopping arcade that closed--it's ok, but I don't know yet whether it really gets many customers for Lebanese food, seems to be more of a fast food joint at lunch

      On the upscale side, there is also Krua Thai just off Acacia Ave, which is usually quite good, and a new Punjabi Restaurant, just on Acacia and part of a big complex

      On the cheaper side, there is a very nice place to sit by the lake and eat fish in between Abayita Babiri and Entebbe, called Cafe Victoria, although it is not clearly signposted, but it's right off the road. There is also an Eritrean food tent in Kisementi near the Gapco Station, my wife has been there and liked it a lot

      I had some pretty good pilao in Bakuli, where is Viva?

      1. re: jbl

        Viva is across from City Square downtown.

        I've completely missed the Eritrean place and I stop by Kisamenti all the time as I usually shop at the Millenium Supermarket there. I'll have to give it a try.

        I liked the Thai place except for the pad thai which I thought was too sweet. The satays and curry were good though.

        When I'm in the mood for some comfort food, I really like the Mac & Cheese with bacon at Blue Mango.

        Thanks for the tips, I'm always looking for new places.

        1. re: jbl

          On a slow Sunday partly on account of the anti-Asian riots last Thursday, I typed in cafe Viva on google and came across this site. Full disclosure: I am the owner! So discard the rest of this post. The pillao we claim to be "different" - from what? Well, come and discover for yourself, and if you identify yourself as a reader of this website, I'll knock 20% off your bill. Must be desperate, right? The riots were scary, but don't let that deter you from visiting Uganda, those were just hooligans. Nothing like Idi Amin, and I was here in 1972 as part of the Asian expulsion. Cheers! Vali Jamal, economist, etc.

          1. re: jamalv

            Hello from a traveller in Kampala, where I am staying for another two weeks. Tonight I took advantage of the Special Chowhound Discount at Cafe Viva, which is across a central green downtown (City Square). I was quite pleased to meet the owner, Mr. Jamal, and had a very nice chat during our dinner about his experiences. It was neat to hear some of his exploits on three different continents!

            So, to the food: Abundant and super-reasonable (especially with the more than generous discount). My dining partner ate EVERYTHING on her plate, and I was amazed, as there was so much food I was bursting. The chicken pillao is quite tender, and the goat was well-executed (did not have the goat-y odor that I usually steer clear from). We also had homemade chapati, which my partner also declared as excellent, and she scarfed down all the avocado salad (familiar to us from the States as guacamole). And I drank all of my fresh-squeezed passionfruit juice, which is a ubiquitous but lovely juice featured here in Kampala.

            We ate so much that we could not even think about the cakes which were featured quite beguilingly in the first-floor display case.

            I took a picture with Mr. Jamal, but I have a camera from 1987, so it's kinda impossible to post the photo. He's quite neat: PhD from Stanford, a stint at an international economics center in Geneva, family suffered during the Idi Amin expulsion, published a book, and now is a big writer for regional newspapers about Ugandan economics and the oil crisis.

            Mr. Jamal has definitely created a friendly oasis at Cafe Viva where folks will feel comfortable. It's a cute joint, with a second floor balcony and a great view of the green. Lots of people were packing the place, and many of them were indulging in coffee and sweets. Next time I'm downtown, I'll be definitely swinging by.

            I know I sound like an ad, but I'm not being over-the-top. It was fun meeting Mr. Jamal, and my friend and I waddled out of there very full! Of course, the Special Chowhound Discount was quite nice, too!

            Now, onward to the pork places....

            1. re: jamalv

              Well, then I must disclose, that we have met before! I was one of a gaggle of young folk hanging out with a couple named George and Shirley. What a small world! I hope to be back to Kampala to sample your wares again soon.

              (Edit: this is in reply to the owner of Viva)

              1. re: basileater

                Yeah, I wondered where that whole group of Canadians went since the whole of last year. Shirley and George come now and again. Prof John Loxley dropped in 6 months ago. I changed things around. The murals are being appreciated. The biriyani is awesome, the penne in corainder pesto, the guacamole, the pillao...We have a saying: Who'll praise the bridegroom? The bridegroom's mother.

        2. I actually always liked the pizza at Mama Mia at Speke Hotel. Nice thin, crispy crusts with fresh toppings.

          Pork joints are very subjective, that said, I usually ate wherever was closest. I also lived near Ntienda, actually Kiwatule, which has some great places. For great roast chicken stop in the Mbira(?) forest on the way to Jinja and get some pieces roasted on a stick, and don't forget the ngonja. It is a huge hassle as all the hawkers swarm the car, but worth it.

          There are really two types of Indian food in Kampala, upscale dinner places and quick lunch thali places. There are quite a few hidden haunts for thalis off Jinja road by Hotel Africana, all pretty good, and cheap, about 4000/=. For a dinner I liked that place on Tank Hill near the new IAA hospital.

          For take away, I became addicted to Chilli's chips liver. So bad for me, but so good. I also have an addiction to Nando's, but that is from years ago living in Harare.

          I agree with the Lebanese place in Garden City, always good, but too expensive in my opinion.

          Of course for local fare I defered to coworkers who often ordered from people who cooked wherever they could, alleys, the street, etc. If possible try the luwombo. Ask for it at every local restraunt, many will have it, but won't advertise. It is something (veg, chicken, meat, groundnut paste, mushrooms, etc) cooked in a banana leaf over a fire so it gets soupy and smoked.

          1. I would suggest "Ekitobelo" (not sure of the spelling)!! Great place for authentic Ugandan food. I believe it located somewhere after Mulago roundabout towards Kololo. My favorites tho would be the pork joints; great with some Pilsner beer!! :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: jerang

              Haven't seen Ekitobelo but I think I know the area you are talking about. Lately my wife and I have been visiting St Anthonys a lot which has really good luwombo and chicken stew. We've been going there for our traditional food fix.

              Prior to our going to St Anthonys we used to go to Christian Take away which she says has been around since she was a little girl. I can never remember exactly where it is but I think its behind Pioneer Mall or somewhere in that vacinity.

              We've also goon a few times to Faze 2 for pork which is pretty good because it is slow roasted rather than grilled, though I think I still prefer Zanzi overall.

              And definitely I need some Nile Special with my pork, makes it all the more delicious.

            2. This is great to see. Thank you all very much. I am heading to Kampala on 1/21 and hope to try several of these spots; I'll report back on those and any other good places we hit. I leave Kampala for Kinshasa on 1/25. Has anybody been there that could offer any suggestions?

              1. Ekitoobero is on Kitante Rd/Yusuf Lule Rd. The last time I was there, which was a while ago, the food was pretty good and the portions were huge. For matooke and luwombo, the luwombo is pretty decent at the Pearl Restaurant at Nommo Gallery up near State House, although it's a bit of a yuppie place. St. Anthony's is also good, and the Sambo Restaurant which is now down on Nkrumah/Nasser Road used to have a good reputation for Ugandan food as well.

                For pork, a lot of people used to swear by Deep Blue near Wandegeya, although I never ate there, and I've heard it's gone downhill somewhat. I thought Zanzi's was pretty good for the money, though I still think the old Outlook (near Ntinda) was better. Some people also like Rhino near Ntinda but I have only tried the Rhino near Nakulabye, which no longer exists. Has any one been to any of the Nakulabye places recently (like Nicodemus or its neighbors)? Also, Rise and Shine between Bukoto and Ntinda is very popular, but I have never been too impressed

                Sadly the Eritrean place which used to be at Kisementi is no longer. I don't know where it went. Also, there was an Ethiopian woman who used to cook out of her home near the old taxi park, and then the building she was cooking from was knocked down. Does anyone know where she might have relocated to?

                4 Replies
                1. re: jbl

                  That's sad news. I used to eat at the Eritrean tent all the time. I hope those families have moved on to bigger and better things. If anyone finds out what happened, please post.

                  I've also heard that Blue Mango is no more. Living in Bukoto, both BM and the places around Kisimenti were regular haunts for me.

                  Am interested to hear about any new places opening up that might replace these old favouries.

                  1. re: basileater

                    Blue Mango was still around (and going strong) when I left in January. I'm heading back for 6 weeks or so in May and will check it out, it would be a shame if it shut down. My wife and I liked going there because it's a nice atmosphere and it has food she will eat (chicken, chips!) and it was close to home.

                    The Bukoto area is building up rapidly these days, a big shopping center was just put in a little north of it close to the Ntinda crossroads. Sadly no restaurants were in at the time I left (it was still pretty empty except for a good size grocery stores and a couple small shops)

                    There's another big shopping area being built just a little before where Blue Mango and Kabira are.

                    1. re: basileater

                      Oh my god! I used to go to the Eritrian tent all the time, between the gapco gas station and la fountain!

                      yeah they closed, but the woman and the family is still there, they focus on there clothing making shop, opposite the tent so if you want to order food you knock on the door tell her what you want she makes it and then you come back later and pick it up.

                      Blue mango closed over rent/lanlord issues in Feb and the owner went back to England, so far nothing has replaced it which is crazy because it was doing really well!

                      One new thing in kampala, Italian to-go cheap places with food and ice cream are popping up, there are now three they are called "ciao ciao" One in Bugolobi, Kansanga, and Muyenga.

                    2. re: jbl

                      Unfortunate report on Ekitoobero: Went there for lunch today with a Ugandan acquaintance of mine. Semi-adequate service but, lord, the food was ABYSMAL.

                      Chicken luwombo: Dried-out stringy chicken with barely any meat on the bone. The breast had what could arguably be only a 1 mm layer of meat. One sad Irish potato. Interestingly, the Ugandan guy at the next table had a huge portion of chicken.

                      The starches, as usual, were plentiful, but the greens were bitter, and although we asked for more vegetables, they said the beans and such we wanted were "not ready." Nevertheless, my lunch partner had noticed that other tables were being served beans. When she asked, she was told that those other parties had come after us. WHAT kind of excuse is that?!? This is even AFTER we had said we'd wait for the additional vegetable sides.

                      What was the most disgusting was the akalo (steamed millet bread): One small bite and it was COMPLETELY FILLED with GRIT. Like I was eating a mouthful of sand. In fact, it was so evenly and finely distributed that I actually thought for one brief, shocked moment that it was supposed to taste like that.

                      Patrons there were mostly white tourists, and the few Ugandans eating possibly were on government expense accounts. There was no reason we should have paid Ush 30,000 for food worse than what I get daily at the canteen.

                      Maybe their evening grill is better, but I'd say: STAY AWAY.