Only a couple of months young, the Urban Grind Coffee & Grill located in the newly opened Highway Mall, next to Nakumatt Mega on Uhuru Highway, is already adding real diversity to its Japanese inspiration.
The restaurant, lounge and café is the brainchild of a passionate Kenyan restaurateur, who first became interested in teppanyaki when he lived in the US – thanks to its captivating Japanese theatre-style cooking and fun community-vibe. But Nairobi’s newest watering-hole is not aimed at your regular Japanese cuisine purists.
Urban Grind, its name a reference to its location – just outside of the traffic-prone Central Business District and older industrial area of Kenya’s capital – a neighbourhood where investors are not exactly flocking to open new restaurants, is serving up an experience that is metropolitan to be exotic and provides worthy diners in the area a new option that doesn’t require them to commute across town to neighbourhoods such as Westlands or Kilimani for more adventurous cuisines.
Urban Grind is the kind of place you would go for a comforting brew of coffee to catch-up with friends, drink away the day’s stress with attractively-priced cocktails (from Sh400), and to enjoy some diverse comfort food from different parts of the world. The menu has a little bit of everything for everyone from tapas to fajitas, and French Toast to Japanese-Kenyan teppanyaki .
I love good Japanese food – so light, elegant and nuanced – but this is not authentic Japanese; but in some ways, it’s even better. Not everyone will enjoy Miso, the tastes of rice wine vinegar, or even sesame oil – it’s hard to believe, but people with such palates do exist. Urban Grind offers a fusion of Japanese and Kenyan flavours that will ease even the pickiest palates into something a little more exotic, such as teppanyaki where everything is sautéed over high heat on a large stainless steel griddle. Some might argue that Urban Grind has an identity crisis; I would argue that they know exactly who they are, uniquely fusion.
If the aromas from Urban Grind’s kitchen is not enough to seduce you down a flight of black granite stairs to the basement of the Highway Mall, perhaps its relaxing décor of neutral earthy colours, intimate space, commissioned artwork or water fountain café will.
I enjoyed the personalized and attentive service. The staff made it so easy for me to think about when I should drop by again.
So the next time you’re stuck in traffic on Uhuru Highway, Mombasa Road, Upperhill, Industrial Area or thereabouts, think about Urban Grind. Thank me later.