• Uhuru often has lunch at the Barka whenever he is in Mombasa.
• It's famous for Swahili cuisine, including delicacies that can't be found elsewhere.
THE Barka restaurant, a Swahili hotel serving mostly Coastal cuisine, has always been the place President Uhuru Kenyatta and other government VIPs go for lunch while in Mombasa.
It's said to be his favorite.
On Thursday, Uhuru while in company of several government dignitaries arrived at the eatery and caught the hotel staffs and other guests without notice.
Hotel staffer Tiny Mzee said the abrupt visit forced the staff to request other guests in the VIP lounge to move to the common area and make room for the President.
On previous occasions, the hotel administration was notified in advance and given time to prepare.
The President's protocol team would also arrive early and inspect the area and the food to be eaten by the head of state and his companions.
Why does the hotel attract VIPs?
The hotel in Old Town is a few metres from the Central police station and presumably the security of guests is guaranteed.
The hotel management says quality services and food has made them a preferred venue in the CBD area.
The management also said Barka is the only hotel where its guests, including the political class, are guaranteed privacy.
The eatery has three lounges, including a common lounge, a VIP lounge and a VVIP lounge.
"Our taste has never changed, our services have remained the same and we have always maintained a clean environment," a manager said.
Barka is one of the few places serving the majority, not all, the Swahili dishes.
Though the hotel is famous for its biryani and pilau, visitors can have a taste of other dishes rarely found in restaurants.
What to indulge in at Barka
Chicken biryani - Sh550
Mutton biryani - Sh550
Viazi Karai - Sh50
Chicken pilau - Sh550
Mkate Mayai - Sh80
Mkate sinia - Sh80
Fish - Sh440-470
Fried meat - Sh450
Juice per glass - Sh300
Tamarind juice - Sh150
The dishes include viazi karai, mahamri, matobosha, muhogo wa nazi (cassava in coconut), viazi tamu (sweet potatoes dipped in coconut cream) mabokoboko (banana in coconut and sugar) among others.
The restaurant also opens early so customers can enjoy breakfast. It stays open late.
The hotel is also popular for its shawarma, grilled meat on skewers, attractively displayed outside the restaurant to attract more guests.
With all the 'important' people being served at the hotel, one might expect different classes of service, but that is not the case.
Management says it gives every guest the same excellent service, without class distinctions.
(Edited by V. Graham)