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THE DISH: A hidden gem in Nairobi

Tuesday February 26 2019

The pulled pork burger, served Chinese style at the Nook in Hurlingham, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The pulled pork burger, served Chinese style at the Nook in Hurlingham, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

ABIGAIL ARUNGA
By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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Back when I used to write for a popular magazine, I was fortunate enough to come into contact with some really amazing people who make some really amazing food.

I love foodies. They're so clean hearted and willing to share what they're making and learning, and they open up their houses and take you to all the good spots!

Anyway. This is how I met Nicole, who had, to me, one of the best jobs in the world – deciding ice cream flavours for Delia's ice cream, and testing them to see how tasty they were. It's a dream job.

My breakfast - smashed avocado on sourdough bread with poached eggs and a tasty tangy chili jam accompaniment.

My breakfast - smashed avocado on sourdough bread with poached eggs and a tasty tangy chili jam accompaniment. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Nicole also used to hold dinners in her house, themed around cuisines, and take us on delightful culinary experiences without ever having to leave Kenya. She then opened up a little restaurant in a tiny little nook – and called it The Nook – before she left the country to move to the Netherlands and start over. Regardless, I do still visit the Nook every so often, and one particular Sunday, I decided to try their breakfast menu.

The Nook is situated in Akamba Court, which is down the road from the complex in Hurlingham that holds Sailors, and Sippers. You pass the entry when you get onto the rough road and look out for a barbershop sign on your right. It's not the easiest joint to spot, particularly because it's a bit of a random location, but Google Maps can steer you as well if this description does not. I always get a little lost every time I'm going there, but it's worth the journey, in my opinion.

The entrance leading into the Nook. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The entrance leading into the Nook. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

BRUNCH

It's called the Nook literally because it's a nook. The restaurant holds about five tables and can only seat so many people at the same time. Even the roof is more of a canopy covering than a solid structure. When you walk in, you pass the kitchen, and it's entirely possible to walk to the end of this little restaurant in 10 seconds flat.

We sat down and asked for the menu. I knew what I wanted because I had called earlier on – they do brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays, but as I soon discovered, that wasn't indicated on the menu.

One of the paintings on sale hang on the wall of the Nook. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

One of the paintings on sale hang on the wall of the Nook. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

What I love about this little place is that the menu isn't usually the same – they switch according to seasons, and what foods are available, or whatever exciting concept the chef is trying to do. Granted, that might mean a favourite of yours can easily disappear from the menu, but that also means that your palate is widened every time you swing by.

On the brunch menu was smashed avocado on sourdough bread, poached eggs and a side of tangy, tasty chilli jam. I wanted a little meat with my meal though, but they don't do that thing where you can order a side of bacon, so I was glad when my companion ordered a pulled pork burger, done Chinese style, so I could have a bite off it.

My hot chocolate, which I didn't particularly like. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

My hot chocolate, which I didn't particularly like. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I also had a hot chocolate, which I didn't particularly like, but my breakfast was very tasty, and filling. That jam was a winner. And even though I don't usually like sourdough bread, the flavours complemented each other beautifully. The pulled pork was a bit sweet, in my opinion, but also very good, particularly the julienned pickled vegetables that came with it.

Breakfast included beer, served in a nice chilled glass, as it should be. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Breakfast included beer, served in a nice chilled glass, as it should be. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I loved that they served beer (it isn't brunch if there's no alcohol, is it?) in a proper chilled glass, and I also love that they support art by having a little stand where you can buy accessories from, as well as paintings hanging that you can buy, should you so desire. In short, this nook is definitely one of my favourite Nairobi hideaways – if you blink, you'll miss it, and you'll regret it.

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Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in and around Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.

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