Located on the second floor of Nakummat Highridge in the Parklands area of Nairobi, Kenya, Lal Qila brings a sense of regal novelty to otherwise, a neighbourhood known for typical South Asian eateries.
Named after the 17th century fort constructed in Delhi, India, which served as the humble home of the Mughal Emperors, Lal Qila attempts to showcase the traditions of intricate ornamental work in its décor. But Lal Qila’s ambience doesn’t quite hit the spot.
Perhaps it’s the harsh white light bulbs that even colourful shards of stain glass cannot soften. Maybe it’s the generous amounts of dark wood that weighs the space down. Or, it’s the sheer quantity of wide open space, which is definitely enough to “Fit for a King.” I can see why Lal Qila would be a great venue for larger groups, but for smaller ones, you may feel a bit exposed and self-conscious that your conversations may be echoing into a stranger’s ear.
The waiting staff were dressed in traditional Pakistani clothing, which brought colour and proved to be a nice touch. Since it was a buffet setup, there was no tedious ordering process. Lal Qila’s team focussed on the essentials and service was adequate, but it would’ve been appreciated if the servers provided a bit of personable flair.
The menu did nod in all the right directions. The buffet spread of more than 50 dishes separated the open kitchen from one end of the restaurant to the other. Curries, all flavoured, were especially delicious. They had a bite and a comforting, rich, velvetiness, which made picking up the sauces with naan bread liken to the magnetism of a newborn baby to their mother’s nursing breasts. The Pakistani barbeque kebabs and chicken wings were spiced subtly, which revealed many layers of flavour, and thanks to the watchful eye of the chef, resulted in moist morsels of meaty goodness. And so it went on until you reached the table of desserts, which most likely when you’ve finally reached, looked like the impossible task of summiting Mt. Everest. It’s true, as the owners have disclosed in their profile on Eat Out Kenya, “one visit is definitely not enough to savour all the dishes.”
At an average cost of Ksh 1,000, Lal Qila is moderately priced for what you get. Let’s not get too excited over the décor, but the food and space is certainly “Fit for a King,” and delivers on its own modest promise. Look past the half-plastered walls as you make your way up the stairs to the second floor, and you will find a reliable eatery with regal ambitions. And in a restaurant city like Nairobi, where constant “adequate” is what you get, that’s certainly something.
More photos continued…