San Bistro is a classy restaurant located on the first floor of GMC House in Nairobi’s Kimathi Street and a seat by the balcony gives a great view of the busy street. It has an aura of relaxation and comfort and its red décor adds a touch of class. San Bistro serves a variety of meals which include red or white meat as well as fried foods like chips for those who desire to quell a craving. Juices and other drinks are also served to accompany the foods and it is a great place to dine during meal times or after work.
I visited San Bistro with a cousin and we sampled their rice and chicken stew meal and their chapatti served with matoke stew. I gathered that the matoke stew is a favourite for many ladies and health conscious people who prefer to abstain from meat. It is mainly served with chapatti though one can order whatever else that suits their liking. Fish (Tilapia) stew served with Ugali or Rice is another fantastic choice for diners whether they love white meat or not. For the rice-chicken meal, the rice was plain and came with vegetables and though I did not mind it, I would have liked it if my chicken was well done. I however had not specified how I wanted it so I guess I should check on that next time. Continue reading →
Greenview Restaurant is an exquisite eatery located along Tubman Road, opposite Jamia Mall in Nairobi’s CBD. It is largely known for its fish fingers and chicken which go for about 300 shillings for a plate of each and are served with options like roast potatoes, French fries, rice or ugali. The restaurant also serves snacks and drinks but these are not sold during lunch hour unless accompanied by a meal because of space constraints.
I have tried the fish fingers and fries option at Greenview and the restaurant arguably has the best fish fingers in town. Fish fingers are made from fish fillet and the outcome after marinating then using breadcrumbs or flour and deep frying is impressive. Fish fillet is a great bet for those who dislike fish or who have had bad experiences with Continue reading →
Highlands group is a chain of restaurants that serve a wide range of African delicacies in the heart of Nairobi city. Its branches make it easily accessible from whichever part of town and its variety of foods and drinks make it a top choice for many. With 100 shillings a customer has access to various cold or hot drinks and main meals range from 150 to 300 shillings. The oldest Highlands restaurant branch is Highlands Khoja and other branches include Highlands Corner House along Kimathi Street, Highlands Annexe at the junction of Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala Streets and Highlands Premier on Moi Avenue.
Highlands is well known for its meal of fish and for the variety of chicken stews that are served with Ugali, Chips, Chapati or Rice. The tilapia fish is served whole either with stew or when it is dry and it is always a pleasant choice for anyone who chooses to go with white meat. The fish is very affordable and it is available throughout the day and early evenings. Besides, the restaurant branches are in close proximity and they offer the same quality of food so eating at any of the branches does not make you shortchanged. I respect Highlands for the fact that they are able to provide standardized services across their branches. Continue reading →
Sizzlin Grills is a refined restaurant that is located on Highbury Building at the junction of Moi Avenue and Ronald Ngala Street in Nairobi’s Central Business District. It serves a wide range of African meals as well as snacks at very affordable prices. The restaurant spans three floors and this ensures that there is enough room for diners to sample the variety of foods at whichever time of the day. It is conveniently situated next to offices and bus stops and this makes it easy for customers to grab a meal at lunch or on their way home. A variety of cakes and beverages like tea and coffee are sold throughout the day while alcoholic drinks are available for sale in the evenings.
I have had meals a couple of times at Sizzlin and they have almost always given me a reason to return. The fried foods like chips and chips masala are very affordable and they spare customers the agony of having to go to crowded ‘fish and chips’ spots every time the crave for junk strikes. African meals like Kienyeji (or Mukimo), Ugali and Rice are also served with a variety of stews as well as fruit and vegetable salads. Most simple meals range between 80 and 200 shillings and a little more for beef or chicken meals. Continue reading →
The Mug is an exquisite coffeehouse located in Nairobi’s CBD. The coffeehouse is on the Ground floor of Jubilee Insurance House on Kaunda Street and its convenient location makes it a go-to place for city dwellers during breakfast, lunch, dinner or the usual cup of coffee after work. It is known for its amazing coffee, smoothies and delicious cakes as well as great tasting food and snacks that are served in a serene atmosphere. There is most definitely something for everyone at The Mug.
I have been on a coffee-tasting mission for a while now and though I am yet to find a place whose coffee satiates my taste buds, I admit that The Mug has tempted me to settle. The Mug serves a variety of foods and drinks and leaves the diners spoiled for choice. The interior is well furnished and the coffee-brown colour that comprises its décor adds a homely feel to the atmosphere. The dining area is spacious and the cosy couches will make you want to stay. Continue reading →
Exactly eight years ago, one of America’s ‘mad’ journalists took a shotgun and blew up his head. Born Hunter Stockton Thompson, he is a man who lived by the gun and died by it. Not in the metaphorical sense of bursting into banks and robbing clients and killing them in the spree. No. He was not a felon in that literal sense but his mannerisms befitted that of a naughty social deviant beyond reproach. Not from his editors or even colleagues. He was, in fact, what Italians call menefreghista. One who does not give a fuck.
Thompson’s addiction for shooting guns and weaponry collection magnified his cantankerous demeanor in the field of New Journalism that he became a part of. Christened ‘The Gang That Wouldn’t Write Straight’ alongside illustrious literary journalists such as Truman Capote of ‘In Cold Blood’ and Tom Wolfe among others, Thompson was rogue from the word go. He is credited for starting Gonzo Journalism after writing piece called ‘The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved.’ Continue reading →
Something Necessary opened in cinemas on Thursday 24th January 2013 to a lot of excitement. I was at the premier that was at The Junction and you could feel the anticipation in the air. There was a red carpet, cameras flashing, dressed up ladies and gents and an after party at the Wine Bar and Mercury both at The Junction. The premier was open to members of the public at just Kshs 450 which is a pretty good deal as most premiers are overpriced. So if you weren’t there, I don’t know where you were!
The film is directed by well-known Kenyan Director, Judy Kibinge and produced by Ginger Ink Films and One Fine Day Films who produced Soul Boy and Nairobi Half Life. It tells the story of Anne (played by Susan Wanjiru) and Joseph (played by Walter Lagat). Anne is a survivor of the post-election violence (PEV) that rocked Kenya in 2007/2008. Her husband is murdered, her son is in a coma and she herself is hospitalized after a gang of youths breaks into their home at the height of the PEV. Joseph is a perpetrator of the PEV and was one of the youths that broke into Anne’s home. Fate unites the two characters when Anne begins to rebuild her home and Joseph is hired as a casual labourer by the Contractor working on Anne’s house. Continue reading →
I have been waiting for this film for a long time. By “this film” I don’t exactly mean Nairobi Half Life, I mean an engrossing Kenyan film which I can get lost in without being distracted by poor production quality. I can safely say that my wait is over and Nairobi Half Life delivers on this and more.
Nairobi Half Life was produced courtesy of One Fine Day Film workshops in the fields of acting, directing, scriptwriting and all other areas of film production. Tosh Gitonga, mentored by renowned director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Cloud Atlas), is the man at the helm of Nairob Half Life and he successfully creates an authentic feeling Kenyan film which shines a cinematic light on the seedy underbelly of the title city.
The film centers on Mwas (Joseph Wairimu), a young bootleg movie merchant who lives in ushago but has aspirations of making it in the big city as an actor. Due to promises made by an unscrupulous agent, he packs his bags and makes his way to Nairobi to follow his dreams.
He barely steps on the tarmac when he gets a taste of the cruel and unforgiving city. He is robbed of all his belongings and worse still is thrown in jail after a misunderstanding. While inside he meets Oti (Olwenya Maina), a local small time crook who sees potential in him. Once outside they hook up with Oti’s gang and Mwas is drawn into a life of crime which the business minded and fast thinking country boy takes to quite well.
Mwas however doesn’t abandon his dream of acting and in pursuing it managing to get himself a part in a play. He now finds himself living a double-life, actor by day and thug by night. This criminal lifestyle is definitely not without its pitfalls and it sends Mwas and the rest of the gang to confrontations with local gang lords and the police. Consequences of living in the fast-lane are wrought out as the film heads to a tense and emotional but satisfying conclusion.
I have to give it up to the script writers and actors who imbue the film’s dialogue with authentic sheng which roots the film in a reality which many Kenyans can relate to. The script also doesn’t shy away from using the colorful language which defines the sheng used in criminal circles.
The one element that stands out most in the film is the exceptional acting especially by Joseph Wairimu whose performance saw him winning the Best Actor award at the Durban International Film Festival. Supporting actors also excel in their parts with highlights including Olwenya Maina who doesn’t miss a beat as the street smart Oti; Nancy Wanjiku as Oti’s prostitute girlfriend Amina who is the main female character in the film and adds some drama of her own; Mugambi Nthiga who plays Cedric, a fellow actor in Mwas’ play and is more than what he seems.
If I have any criticisms it’s that I would have liked for the story to be sewn up tighter. There are a few loose plot points which could have been discarded without damaging the story as a whole. Also some of the scenes were weighed down with dialogue which was not very kinetic and bogged down plot momentum.
Most local films till now pull you out of their intended experience due to poor acting, shoddy production value and lazy storytelling which leave the viewer as a spectator rather than a participant. Nairobi Half Life grabs your attention from the first frame and takes you along on an exciting journey all the way to the end. This is why I don’t hesitate in calling it the best Kenyan film I’ve seen. If this is a sign of things to come from the clearly talented Tosh Gitonga and other young filmmakers, the Kenyan film industry has a bright future.
Nairobi Half Life is showing at Planet Media Westgate everyday at 3:20 pm and 7:30 pm. Charges: 450/= weekend, 350/= weekdays.
Film director Joss Whedon was given a mammoth task in bringing half a dozen Marvel superheroes together in one film and create a coherent and entertaining experience. With “The Avengers” Whedon shows that he possesses his own superpowers by not only managing to pull it off brilliantly but by also making it look easy.
All the events that were being set up in previous Marvel films (Iron Man, Thor, Incredible Hulk, Captain America) converge as Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., finally gets his Avengers initiative up and running. The catalyst is Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who steals the Tesseract, an energy source of unknown potential, from a S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Loki has made a deal with the Chitauri, an alien race seeking to conquer the galaxy. In exchange for the Tesseract, the Chitauri agree to help Loki take over the Earth by giving him an army.
The world is in peril and thus enter Earth’s mightiest heroes: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) & Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr). It is up to The Avengers to come together, put aside whatever differences they might have, stop Loki and save the Earth from subjugation.
With so many major characters it would be very easy for the script to be overloaded and/or uneven but Joss Whedon who also co-wrote the film with Zak Penn balances it out perfectly. He manages to bring together characters who were previously developed by several other filmmakers and makes them his own. The film feels like it is a continuation of several stories converged into one which is quite a feat. The script is also very funny with characters dropping many hilarious lines sure to be quoted by fans many times over.
The film also gets something else very right, the action. Many superhero films do not manage to partner a good script with great action but the set pieces in Avengers are high octane and exciting with proper build up and climax. This is exemplified mostly by a final-act citywide showdown which is what Transformers: Dark of the Moon tried to pull off but failed.
Joss Whedon is a fan of the material and his love and admiration for these characters shows. The film does not give too much emphasis on one character which was a very easy trap to fall into. When it is about the group, it is about the group. When it is about one character, it about that character. We get to see everyone’s motivation and every character gets their chance to shine.
Comic book fans and fans of superhero films have been waiting for The Avengers for decades. There was so much that could have gone wrong but Avengers delivers in every way and I’m sure not getting ahead of myself by calling it a genre classic.
Take a dystopian future, sprinkle in a totalitarian government, add 24 teenagers and stir in a tournament to the death. What you have is a recipe for some heartbreaking thrilling cinema. The chef in this case is Garry Ross who unfortunately doesn’t deliver and the outcome is a bit undercooked.
Based on the best-selling book by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is set in a future nation known as Panem. As payback for past rebellion against the wealthy seat of power called the Capitol, the Hunger Games are initiated; a televised annual event in which one boy and one girl from each of the poor 12 districts of the nation are selected as “tributes” and are required to fight to the death until only one victor remains.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) from the 12th district volunteers as a tribute to save her younger sister who is chosen to take part. Joined by her district’s male tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss travels to the Capitol to train for the Hunger Games under the guidance of former victor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson).
The film has a strong first half which is set up for the games but once they begin, it’s all downhill. The action and violence is mostly muted and this makes the tone of a film about kids killing each other rather mild. The close up shaky cam method of filming the action doesn’t really help much in figuring out what is going on.
Emotional impact of events and scenes is greatly sapped by lack of character development. On a storytelling level, characters and major plot points are introduced without much back story and you are supposed to feel something for them but this many times just falls flat.
Plot momentum and structure is also rather poor. In a film whose plot gives you a simple method of plot development, counting down from 24, it fails to seize this opportunity. The structure is messy and you don’t have a sense of build up and climax, a few times I thought the film was winding down when in fact there were more plot points to come.
The film gets a few things right. It sets up the story well and has some well constructed action scenes that convey actual peril. Jennifer Lawrence, whose character is properly developed and is the emotional centre of the film does a fine job. The supporting cast which includes Stanley Tucci & Donald Sutherland do their best with the little material they have.
Overall, the film is a bit disappointing. Considering it has made a gazillion dollars worldwide I thought the film would be grander but it really doesn’t feel like a blockbuster. By the end I was not very interested in where the story goes so when the sequel comes out next year I’ll just wave at it as it passes by.