In a cramped front dining room at Nairobi’s KK Restaurant, I hide my face in a bowl of steaming chicken soup. Its half past seven in the morning and the streets in town are still calm in preparation for the day’s hustle to begin.
Around me are green tables, awful unflattering incandescent lights, a combination of peach and yellow walls, uncomfortable metal chairs, a large blue plastic jug of water and bucket serves as a hand-washing station, and five other hungry businessmen dressed immaculately. The room is windowless. The men look out-of-place in the three-leveled restaurant.
KK Restaurant is located on the ground floor of Bruce House, Standard Street, Nairobi, Kenya.
KK Restaurant is not where you want to lounge and linger; rather, it’s a place where you just want to get what you’ve come for and go. In this case, Kienyeji Chicken Soup.
I love chicken. My favourite being free-range birds – known as kienyeji in Kenya – because they simply taste better. What do I love more than chicken? A slowly-simmered chicken soup served with a soft brown chapati, crisp around the edges.
All the finger-licking, chapati-dipping and tongue-wagging from fresh green chilies that goes into indulging in a Kienyeji Chicken Soup – I love it all. It is so brilliantly rustic, and yet leaves me swooning every time. I miss this Soup when I wake up in unfamiliar beds at beautiful hotels in Europe. I long for this Soup when I rub the sleepiness out of my eyes at home. I’m unsettled at my desk until I’ve had my daily serving – it’s true, ask my colleagues. I think of Kienyeji Chicken Soup fondly, no matter where I am in the world.
KK Restaurant’s Kienyeji Chicken Soup is the best in Nairobi
The Kienyeji Chicken Soup, a staple on KK’s breakfast menu will set you back KSh 150. It arrives in a plastic bowl, scratched and has clearly seen better days, with a large piece of chicken bobbing in the steaming stock, and the colourful vegetables floating nearby. A white or brown hot crispy chapati that’s soft in the center or toast accompanies the Soup.
A shortage of soup spoons seems to be an issue at KK, but the odd time, you will find yourself doing a silent happy dance when the waiter brings you a legitimate soup spoon instead of slender tablespoon – don’t you hate it when that happens?
The hot broth, delicious liquid nourishment, vastly more comforting than any other breakfast item glides down my mouth and travels down my throat to the pit of my stomach, filling my entire body and senses with a type of homemade savoury satisfaction that’s hard to find in restaurant food.
The kienyeji chicken, simmering for hours, has taken the flavours of an orchestra of vegetables: kale, carrots and onions. Underneath the tasty skin reveals tender meat that easily pulls away from the chicken bones.
With every spoonful of Kienyeji Chicken Soup, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything else in life such as a piece of decadent foies gras, clear consommés, and lobster bisques. Simply put, if prepared properly, a bowl of Kienyeji Chicken Soup is all you need.
My bill of KSh 150 arrives in a flimsy green-tinted plastic disposable cup – part of the charm at KK Restaurant. Can’t wait until tomorrow morning, when I’ll walk into KK and say “Boss, kawaida tafadhali!”