Eating out in Arusha: Mambo cafe and Njiro Complex

A long weekend, a missed bus ride and bad soup out of town

My weekend could have been longer…

I whisper to myself as I read the Eid announcements on Twitter and Facebook. There is some kind of invisible power in play when friends post trending messages on social networks, you just can’t help but believe it.

‘The moon has been sighted it’s on the radio right now’ reads one of the FaceBook statuses on my home feed.

It’s Saturday night, some incredibly trustworthy connections of mine  announces what I have dreaded to hear all day, ‘Eid would be on Sunday!’ After 29 days of fasting the food loving animal in me should be back flipping in joy at the prospects of going back to a normal eating routine but I am far from the festive mood. For the first time I feel a strong dislike for the FaceBook  ‘Like’  button and cringe at every Retweet. A fort night. That is how long  I have been crossing my fingers for it to be on the Monday. If the magic lump really had supernatural powers then this would have been the million dollar moment to grant my single wish I think to myself as I await confirmation from my brother in-law once he gets back from the mosque. Eid is on Sunday it has just been confirmed! My prayer for a rare long weekend (Sat-Tue) has been shattered. Anyway there is no use of crying over spilt milk.

How many early risers do you know?

With that in mind I hatched a master plan to bank myself the best seat for my 9 hour ride back to Dar. I had a good Eid yesterday and it was now Monday morning. I got up super early, got dressed, had breakfast all in incredible pace with the aim of catching the first bus back to the capital. I had been in Moshi since Friday to celebrate Eid with my family and now duty called. I got to the bus station and surprise-surprise there were more scheming optimist there to rain on my parade.Sorry all buses are full! There are no available seats on the first bus or the last one.

Just my luck!!!

Did I somehow broadcast my plan through invisible waves from my brain and  now every one was out to get me? Was there some kind of an adjustment bureau (Matt Damon Alert!) I mean since when did everyone become an early riser?

Thank God my sister waited along ( a family tradition we never leave anyone at the station/airport until we have made sure they have boarded and left). We drove back home and as if it couldn’t get any worse we got into trouble with Traffic Officers but that is a post for another day.

A lively bunch: 3 kids and a sister

Surreal! It felt like deja vu walking back through the same doors I walked out of 15 minutes ago not sure when I’ll walk back in. I make my way into the living room where a lively bunch dressed in newly bought garments are busy writing some kind of lists. I suspect there is a trip brewing some where. They all look so excited that they hadn’t acknowledged my presence. Few minutes on the clock and my sister comes walking hurriedly from her room and announces that they are about to head off to Arusha for the day with crazy activities like horse ridding as buzz words. I’m offered the opportunity to tag along. I drop my bag and tighten my shoe laces. We are off!

A pizza brunch!

We arrive in Arusha at 11:00am or close to that. My sister suggests we go for a Pizza brunch. Pizza in the morning? I’m kind of skeptical but everyone else is excited. We get to the Pizza outlet but there are no Pizzas until 12:30pm. I’m secretly relieved!

Next stop: Mambo cafe @Outpost Lodge

This was my second time here. The last time I liked their Mocha. This time I went for soup of the day (Zucchini) and cheese croissant. The waiter arrives and places my soup on the table. It’s orange! Why is my soup orange? I dip my spoon into the bowl and have the first taste of the soup. It tastes sweet! I did not expect that.  So the orange colour was not some sort of exotic spice. I call the waiter and ask him what the soup was, ‘carrot soup madam’ he says.

‘But I did not order carrot soup!’
‘Sorry the Zucchini soup is not ready’
‘How long will it take to get ready?’
‘They just started making it.’
‘Why was I not informed before I was brought an alternative?’
‘Sorry madam’

The waiter smiles and walks away. For a few minutes I’m left speechless. I continue to dig into my soup which now looks lumpy, luke warm and full of cream. My sister looks at me and asks ‘how do you rate this place?’

‘3/5 or may be that’s being generous’ I reply.

At its best good food should make you happy. Each spoon should give you that extra satisfaction what the Economists call marginal utility. Strangely with every spoonful of the soup i became worse off. I shifted my attention away from the soup to the grilled cheese croissant that tasted like yesterday. Was it grilled to make it seem fresh? By the end of it all I had reviewed my rating to ‘N/A’ meaning no rating applied due to insufficient motivation.

‘Come on, there must be something nice to say about this place,’ my sister pleaded. I’m sure there are a lot of nice things to say like the inviting set up, the attractive colours of table linen, the beautiful outdoor pool, the social atmosphere, the affordable prices and the good range of coffee syrups but due to an unfulfilled expectation all that don’t seem to matter.

Would I recommend Mambo Cafe? The odds are 50/50

A Tilapia at Njiro complex

We got to Njiro complex around 1:30pm just in time for lunch. The waiter from Bombay Spice put his reputation at stake as he recommended the grilled Tilapia. The fish arrived and I could smell the light aroma of grilled butter and hint of spices which dominated all the other filled plates on the table. Using my index and thumb I pulled a small piece of the fish. A crispy coating, lightly salted with no over bearing spices enclosed a moist and juicy flesh full of freshness as if the fish had just been scooped from lake Victoria. It made this lunch worth 4.8/5

As far as main meals go that fish had completed my day and everything that followed was just a bonus 🙂


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