Zanzibar—Bwejuu and Stone Town—report (long)
To have some down-time after the Rwanda sojourn, I spent a week on the island of Zanzibar. I was really excited to check out the island’s cuisine with the obvious seafood combined with the African, European, Arabic, and Asian (Indian) influences. The meals were ok to delicious; unfortunately, like I experienced in Rwanda, the seafood, with some nice pieces of fish, were often over-cooked. And like Rwanda, sometimes the food took 2 hours to come out. Most meals were about $6-8USD, aside from the splurge at the roof top resto at 236 Hurumzi. When I went $1USD = 1500 TSh (Tanzanian shillings). I wish I’d brought back some of the famous spiced coffee, although I think I can add some cardamom pods to my cuppa joe at home.
The following are photos from some meals in both places.
Bwejuu—Upepo Beach Bungalows
About a 45 minute drive from the capital Stone Town, Bwejuu is on the east coast of the island and definitely quiet, even during the summer high season. I think more people stayed at nearby Paje. I chose to stay at Upepo based on the reviews about its owner / chef. Of course, when I arrive, I find out he’s spending 5 months in Canada. Anyway, the staff was so friendly and helpful. I got hooked on the chapattis and always ordered them as a side. Loved the garlic sauce with the prawns. Enjoyed the coconut crab on spaghetti. And disappointed the kingfish masala was a bit bland and the sauce dominated the fish.
Rashid, the owner and sometimes cook, is very friendly. I went here for lunch a couple of times. Food came out relatively quicker than other places. Really liked the spicy coconut crab / shrimp with coconut rice. The modest resto is on the 2nd floor with a stunning view of the clear turquoise waters.
Stone Town—Passing Show
Rashid recommended this cheap, busy place. Went here for a couple of lunches. Filled with locals. First time I had this chicken stew / dish. Don’t recall the name of aside from its beginning with a “u”. I remember the sauce had cashews. The chicken was boiled and came with a dumpling. I added some chilli sauce for some kick. The next day I had the chicken pilau, which I liked better. The biryani also looked good.
Stone Town—Forodhani Gardens
Awesome views of the sunset from this lively place. The seafood offerings represented the bounty from the local waters—tuna, kingfish, barracuda, shark, marlin, octopus, crab, lobster, shrimps, and so on. The skewers ranged in price up to $5. But everything looks to have been cooked already and the vendor simply heated things up. I got caught up taking photos that I didn’t notice how and where the vendor heated up my (dry) tuna skewer.
The “Zanzibar pizza” looked promising; I liked how the vendor described it as “Zanzibar okonomiyaki”. It was a filled chapatti with my chosen kingfish, chopped veggies, cheese (la vache qui rit), and egg cooked on a griddle. I had to ask for some hot sauce for more flavour.
My fave at the gardens was the refreshing sugar cane – ginger drink. It was fun to see how it was made with the special machine.
Stone Town—236 Hurumzi roof top
This place required reservations and a $25 deposit for the meal (or you could pay $40 for more seafood entree options). On weekends there is live music. The climb to the roof top meant I could snoop around the traditional furnishings on each floor. I arrived early to catch the sunset and a drink. Had a good South African red, which was a welcome change from beer. Easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve eaten in with the panoramic views of Stone Town, and it was amazing to hear the evening calls to prayer from mosques around the city. I chose the Swahili seating—nice plush pillows on carved-wood tables that would later feel cramped when the other diners came. Table seating is available too.
There were supposed to be 6 courses but the last, tea /coffee, was never offered. I liked the opening bar snacks and wish I remembered the name for the balls that looked like pakoras. The minestrone soup was only ok. It felt nice to have veggies with the fatoush salad. The red snapper was also only ok, a wedge of lemon would’ve helped. There were other options for the entree, including beef, chicken, and vegetarian. I really liked the simplicity of the dessert, fruit cocktail that was heavy on the passion fruit and watermelon.