Way back around 2005, we discovered this wonderful gem of a restaurant known as Mama Ashanti and located in a shop the size of a postage stamp. We fondly recall the original Mama Ashanti that used to be on the Bombo Road where the rule, than the exception, was the consistency of the quality food that obtained year in and year out. Punters who dine out tend to be fickle and have little loyalty when it comes to allegiance to food; not to mention the ever increasing new joints that open up with such frequency.
Back then for the first time in Kampala we were able to sample such exotic fare as okra soup, fufu (fresh boiled cassava and raw plantain pounded and served in a black pot), palaver sauce(egusi) and so many wondrous delights from West Africa.
Nostalgia set in
Such was the success of Mama Ashanti, that around 2010 they moved to Kololo into a spacious property that occupies a whole acre. At that time, I wrote thus:
“I have always held the belief that good food not only speaks for itself, but in time will generally act as a magnet towards attracting clients. This is all the more a bonanza when one takes into account the fact that good and tasty food in town is conspicuous by its absence, and when it comes to West African food; practically a nonevent in these neck of the woods. Come to think about it, the advent of several banks from Nigeria and West Africa can only bode well for Mama Ashanti and no doubt many of the newly arrived bankers are wont to be found dining of their favourite fare.
The good news for Kampala diners is that Mama Ashanti’s new address in many ways overdue and not unexpected and at the end of the day it is a win, win situation for all parties concerned. Besides offering the usual dining fare as was the case at old venue, they can now take advantage of the very lucrative ancillary and related much in demand events such as weddings, after wedding parties, graduations, office parties and the like. The place is located in a very prime location and nestled on an acre of land thus offering limitless opportunities.”
What seemed not right
Last month we ventured over to Mama Ashanti and sadly all is not well and I could be speaking for many when I say that things are bad. To go to a supposed prime restaurant and ask for wine and be told that there is none whatsoever does not bode well and surely is a harbinger of worse to come. The much acclaimed smoked whole fish that was pricey was a paltry size and not worth the money. The Jollof rice was insipid and worse of all wholly devoid of any chili flavouring.
Adding insult to injury is that all this mayhem goes on under the nose of the new owner with nary a care, a gentleman who makes it a point not to be concerned with the discomfiture of the diners and makes his presence known by strolling around the property keeping himself busy with everything but minding the shop. I have it on good authority that he has a doctorate from a local university, and that gives him a lot of pride and pomp.
What it could be
From the look of things ever since Kwame Boateng the founder and previous owner of the place decided to throw in the towel and move next door to Kenya, the place has sadly failed to live up to its standard as is witnessed by the tremendous decline in patronage.
The service is lackluster and the food is below average and to be fair, Mama Ashanti is a mirage of what it used to be during the good old days.
The place Mama Ashanti
Address: Plot 20 Kyadondo Road, Nakasero-Kampala
The space: Mainly al fresco with a small dining area
The crowd: We were the only ones present.
The bar: Wines were unavailable
Recommended dishes: Plantain kelewele
The damage: We were a party of six and spent around Shs 200,000
Sound level: Good
Parking: Generally available
Daily Specials: Ask the waiter
Smoke free zone: Allowed on the terrace
What we liked: Nothing
If you go: Lunch and supper daily.
RATINGS: These ratings are purely the reviewer’s personal reaction to food, ambience and service with price being factored into consideration. The menu listings and prices are subject to change without notice.