The narrow alleys, sounds of laughter echoing from the children happily playing on the streets, spices and vegetables strewn on the ground, women busy trying to get a good bargain from the hawkers calling out on the streets; that’s the beauty of old town. With a sweet aroma of spices everywhere in the air, amazing Arabic architecture that’s still visible on the doors and buildings around you, there’s something about Mombasa’s Old Town that reminds you of sweet old Lamu.
Old Town has become so popular with time; many photographers try to capture the rawness and old culture that this side of town has to offer. Tourists and locals alike associate Old Town with Fort Jesus, and the various shops that sell intricate household accessories for an Arabic theme like décor. But there’s more to Old Town that holds a special place in my heart.
Tucked away in Old Town, lies one of my favorite restaurants in Mombasa; Jahazi restaurant. The simplicity of the place and the vintage décor always have a way of calming you and making you forget the hustle and bustle of the city center just a few meters away.
So many restaurants seem to come and go, but there’s something about Jahazi Restaurant that always remains a favorite with many. Maybe it’s in the simplicity of laying back and relaxing on the mattress area, with some privacy and the peacefulness of not having a waiter hover over you every five minutes, which makes it such a nice place to sit back with a book and just chill.
With a menu that stays true to its Swahili culture, from Viazi vya Karai, Bhajia and other delicacies that they have to offer, be sure to sample a little bit of everything. If you’re a tea or coffee person, then Jahazi is the best place to sample some Kahawa chungu or Chai ya Mdalasini (cinnamon tea) whether you fancy some pilau or biryani, you definitely will get your money’s worth at Jahazi Restaurant. It might not be your regular bourgeoisie sort of restaurant if that’s what you’re after, but it’s the little things about this place that makes it absolutely calming.
Just like any other city, you always have to exercise caution while walking in Old Town, by being careful with your belongings, especially with your camera and phones, but that shouldn’t deter you from enjoying the beauty and heritage that Mombasa’s Old Town offers. Savour the spicy aroma, capture the beautiful moments of children playing along the streets, or jump inside a tuktuk and take a tour inside Old Town and absorb the simple moments that comes with exploring Old Town.