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Four One One

The Mongolian experience at Rock Garden café


culinary delight: Much to the delight of the people who indulge in eating out, Rock Garden Cafe’s expanding meal offerings beyond Speke Road are really on a new high.

If indulging your culinary buds is on top of your list, then you will be in for a treat at the Speke Hotel based Rock Garden Café. Apart from multiple options for coffees to brunches, there is no lagging behind inter-continental cuisine as well. One of the café’s sale-outs is the weekly Thursday evening Mongolian buffet. As a friend and I were on our way to the Rock Bar, we were taken aback when we saw three chefs busy cooking on an open table in the middle of the terrace. This was certainly a different style from the usual cooking experiences that we have come to know. Thankfully, Samuel Matsiko, the manager of the café came in to save the situation. He explained that their Mongolian theme is to enable diners to participate in the cooking experience.

Set in the open, the café is attached to Speke Hotel with Kyber Pass Restaurant at the entrance and Rock Bar further inside. It has a romantic ambience in the evening that is further enhanced by the candle lighting. At the centre of the restaurant is the open kitchen where all the cooking takes place.

Matsiko, says the café has an ala carte menu that boasts of appetisers, salads, soups, seafood and an array of meats. The buffet costs Shs37,000 per head, but it is worth every penny because you are entitled to as many top-ups as your stomach can handle. What makes this buffet different is that you pick everything from the food to the spices and sauces and the chefs stir-fry. And the beauty about it is that all this happens in an open kitchen as you watch.
You can follow the guidelines for the different sauce mixes, or you can go and try something you completely made up. I chose to follow their guide for the most part, but in the end I added some random sauces, coming up with something very tasty.
After they have cooked your food, they would do a quick wipe down of the grill, so flavours don’t get mixed, and for those who don’t eat meat, this comes in handy. And the cooking time takes no more than 10 minutes. This is served with baked potatoes and steamed white rice. They also do some good desserts. On the night we were there, we had English pancake, vanilla cake and fruit cocktail. All I can say is it was impressive. By the time we settled down in our seats, there was a waitress on stand-by ready to take our orders for drinks. This kind of service makes up for the loud music that can be overpowering from Rock Bar.
But this should not in any way stop you from having a Mongolian experience, Matsiko says the café also offers outside catering for their clientele.

What you need to know
Your meal will be as oily or light, as much meat, as much vegetables, as low-carb as you choose, so I think it’s a great choice for a group or family with various preferences/diets, from a meat-lover to a picky eater to a gluten-free person to someone who doesn’t really like Asian food. If you were vegetarian, you could still have a hearty and filling meal thanks to the many vegetables, and for sauce, only choosing veggies and garlic, ginger, and sesame oil. If you are lost about what sauces to use, I recommend lots of ginger and garlic, and adding a lot of lemon juice at the end after it’s all cooked.

Plus and Minus
We begin with a treat alright. The fact that you can eat to your fill without feeling guilty or digging further into your pocket is commendable. However, I do think, at that price there should be a variety of seafood. This is also a good place for those who like Western food, specially grilled fish and chicken. The café also has good sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and desserts, and fairly good coffees, making this one of the better hotel cafés in Kampala.
Overall I enjoyed my food and time I spent here. This place isn’t bad by any means, and I can see myself going here again and again – even if I wasn’t craving Mongolian.


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