At last, here’s a place for some fine dining in Jinja
Posted Sunday, January 27 2013 at 00:00
The Nile Hotel came like an oasis in a dry barren land. Having been starved of fine diner places in Jinja town, finally, here was a place where everything, from the meals to the ambience and environment, met the bill just right.
The highly anticipated Nile Village Hotel in Jinja, owned by former parliamentarian Harry Kasigwa, finally opened just before Christmas.
It was an invite-only affair attracting the movers and shakers of Jinja town. They gathered for a sit-down dinner that left many people wondering out aloud why it had taken so long for this place to open. Much to our relief, Chef Ron Kizito chose not to have the usual buffet setting that so often suffers from abuse by diners who are so prone to raiding the goods without mercy for others!
I have often bemoaned the paucity of good dining places in Jinja and this belief is shared by many fellow trenchermen. Mercifully, their pleas have not fallen on deaf ears, and we can inform you with some authority, that Nile Village Hotel is more than just your ordinary run of the mill inn with rooms; most important of all, they have taken up the challenging gauntlet of offering fine dining.
Naturally, it goes without saying that Harry had the good fortune of taking on the services of the very experienced and versatile Chef Ronald Kizito, a wise decision that has already paid handsome dividends in the form of the synergy of the kitchen coupled with the wonderful food being served. Ron, whom I have known for well nigh 20 years, and have also had occasion to mentor, is a rare Ugandan chef who has the temperament and passion greatly required and more often than not, lacking, to being a first class executive chef.
Deciding on the kind of menu with which to do a launch for a brand new restaurant of this sort can be a daunting and difficult task and one has to marvel at the ingenuity of the menu that graced the night of Friday, December 14, late last year. It went beyond such commonplace offering such as kachumbari that is dished out by every other take-way on the block. Sadly, this much-maligned salad has become a lamentable horrible affair of tomatoes and onions and yes; some people have the audacity or should I say stupidity to omit the chili!
For reasons that probably date back to the colonisation of Uganda (blame the staid Brits), hot & sour fare is a rarity to be found even in the better class of Chinese joints. Luckily, Ron is a chef who has had exposure. He is not the internet kind who thinks that ‘the net’ is the end all and be all! And for the debut, he regaled us with two memorable hot & spicy entrees that were sublime, spicy and unusual.
The first one being, Hunan multiple spiced chicken salad while the second was Spicy deep fried hot & sour pork. Both dishes were showstoppers and left many a guest agape and swearing that such unusual tasty fare had never been seen much in Jinja, much less had in Uganda! As for the Goan coconut chicken curry, it was not new to us, though I confess that it is by no means a commonplace number. The braised beef in a rich peanut sauce was another one of those dishes that left many agog and wondering what more wondrous treats were in store!
Just when we thought that surely there were no more surprises, along came the sautéed French beans with black bean sauce and the spiced eggplant in hot meat sauce. Trust me, many of you who hate French beans or loath eggplant would become instant converts and simply love these dishes in this form.
How about the sesame noodles with spring onions served cold? The word delicious does not do this dish justice; sensational is surely an understatement.
I have dined at Nile Village Hotel several times over the past month and I have no doubt that they are destined to greater heights. We love the semi al fresco ambience in the dining area that takes maximum advantage of our generally conducive weather, and generally, the property has been designed in a well thought manner with the emphasis being to give one the feeling of comfort and luxury yet without ostentation.
The place: Nile Village Hotel, Kira Road, Jinja
Our Rating: Not to be missed
The Space: A superb al fresco setting that is perfect for Uganda’s temperate climate
The Crowd: People who have an eclectic palate and hanker to eat good food
The Menu: Soup of the day Shs10,000, spring rolls Shs10,000, chicken wings Shs10,000, Fish fingers Shs10,000, Main course: Steak au poivre (aka pepper steak) Shs17,000, grilled beef filet mignon with garlic butter Shs17,000, Kung Pao Chicken Shs17,000, Home fries Shs10,000.
The Bar: A wide variety of beer and soda and house wine. Feel free to bring your own wine and pay a modest corkage fee of around Shs10,000.
The type of food: Continental and eclectic while at the same time global.
The check: A meal for two with a couple will set you back Shs60,000 or so though with a starter and drinks it would be more.
Parking: Enclosed and very secure.