With Christmas and New Year celebrations coming to an end I decided to venture outdoors. The streets in Dar es Salaam were mostly empty, with people having left for the countryside.
I was in search of holiday magic. So I tried brunch at a new five-star hotel in the city centre. Johari Rotana has been on everyone’s lips and offers fantastic views of the harbour and city.
It offers brunch at all-day dining restaurant Zafarani every Sunday between 12.30pm and 3.30pm, with a wide variety of foods on offer such as Swahili, Mediterranean, Japanese, Chinese and Indian cuisine. I was spoilt for choice.
I got to pick from the splendid spread of local specialities, international, Indian and Chinese delicacies, cold foods, hot foods, salads, soups, meat, cheeses, sea food and irresistible desserts for Tshs95,000 ($41) which is inclusive of unlimited sparkling wine, red or white house wines.
At the appetisers’ corner, there was plenty of warm bread, laid out in baskets, from breadsticks, garlic bread, baked Crostini and buns. There were two big pans of chicken and vegetable soup, and Urojo ukwaju soup, crisps, buns and pasta.
Being a lover of East African cuisine, I opted for Urojo ukwaju for my starters. It is my favourite traditional Tanzanian vegetable soup served with badjia and cassava crisps. Urojo, also called Zanzibar mix, has a citrusy, curry-taste.
I tried sashimi for the first time, which is fresh, raw fish sliced into thin pieces served with soy sauce. It had a creamy texture and pillowy softness. It was so fresh one could say it had been swimming in the sea that morning.
There were beef and chicken sausages and pork is only served at Johari Rotana’s other restaurant, the Noble House.
For entrées, there was my favourite chicken served either as Swahili kuku wa kupaka, traditional coconut chicken curry, spiced Indian chicken curry or Chinese dry fried chicken pot accompanied by sautéed potatoes, dried chilli, spicy stewed chicken pot and steamed vegetables.
I went with Indian spiced chicken curry with pilau (Swahili spiced rice), fried golden banana plantain, stir-fried beef, bell peppers with black pepper sauce and pumpkin leaves seasoned with coconut milk.
I rarely can resist Tanzanian beef pilau. Swahili people normally say, “a feast without Pilau on the menu is a no-no!”
After the main course and a couple of glasses of red wine, I went to the dessert corner, which was full of tempting options, including pumpkin pie, peanut and coconut cookies, shushumow (famously known as visheti in Swahili) and different flavoured cakes.
I picked a slice of red velvet cake and a small slice of pumpkin pie. A bowl of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream made the brunch the best meal of the week for me.
Despite being a five-star hotel, the food prices are affordable, the staff are friendly and quick to serve you.
There is an ice cream station for the children and you can also choose from a wide range of homemade soups, rice, pasta, meats, juices, vegetables and even Ugali.
It was a great Sunday brunch with a live cooking station and the best live band from Chuchu sounds.
Johari Rotana is definitely worth a visit.