It’s a beautiful view, sitting on a plastic chair in front of a piece of street-side grilled chicken with a trio of unknown sauces to explore.
And that’s exactly what I faced when I sat down for a quick afternoon snack at Mukhy’s Cafe in Stone Town, Zanzibar.
When you approach Mukhy’s Cafe, you’re greeted by that universal street food glass cabinet full of tempting things waiting to be ordered.
Pre-made burgers, egg chops, a stack of the red beautiful chicken, and a pile of greasy fries sitting next to sticks of mishkaki. You could order chips mayai, grab some other street food snacks, or just go straight for the chicken like I did.
When the chicken supply runs low, you’ll see the chefs on the busy street side grilling up a fresh new batch – and the smoke that pours off the grill smells amazing.
If you arrive in-between rounds, you won’t find the grill on the sidewalk, but you’ll just see the stack of bright red charred chicken with a little green sign above that reads “TASTES GREAT!” – how could you say no!?
You would never know from the street-side, but Mukhy’s Cafe actually has a nice little seating area with a few tables once you enter.
It’s sheltered by a piece of canvas, sponsored by Coca Cola, and adjacent to the road that carries loads of traffic and is always loud and action packed.
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My first time to eat at Mukhy’s Cafe, I had just eaten a rather large feast at Lukmaan restaurant, so I wasn’t overly hungry to say the least.
But the smell of the chicken, and the friendly staff that invited me in, were quite enough of a draw.
I refrained from ordering the chicken and chips combo plate and just went for the grilled tandoori chicken alone.
They tossed it on the barbecue for a few seconds to warm it up, and then delivered it on a platter with a little shaved cabbage on the side.
My first bite of chicken was fantastic.
Real tandoori chicken should be cooked in a clay oven known as a tandoor.
This was a similar recipe, influenced by the great Indian chicken dish, yet instead it was grilled over high charcoal until cooked and slightly charred on the outside.
Sauces you can’t resist…
One thing is sure about house made sauces filled into old used plastic soda bottles; it’s always a fun adventure to sample.
It’s kind of hit or miss if they are actually good or not though.
Sometimes they are just generic manufactured sauces (like Peptang tomato sauce), and the restaurant purchased in bulk so just uses the bottles for each individual table.
But sometimes you get sauces that are absolute gems, like the ones served at Mukhy’s Cafe.
I can’t assure you they were completely sanitary, but I can assure you I’ll never forget the taste of them, especially that greenish yellow sauce with the tiny red specs in it.
It was absolutely incredible, a blend of mostly chilies and garlic. Whatever it was, it was irresistible. I drizzled it generously onto each and every bite of my chicken, elevating each bite to pure enjoyment.
Don’t worry, despite their sign being in past tense (specialized), they still specialize in tandoori chicken – it’s not a thing of the past – their chicken is still going strong and tasty!
What to eat: Chicken and chips (6,000 TZS) or mishkaki and chips
How to get there: From the Stone Town ferry terminal, walk away from the ocean on Malawi road. Around 30 meters, on the right hand side, just before you get to Zenji Hotel, you’ll see Mukhy’s.
Open hours: 7 am – midnight, but very informal hours, they are open most of the time is what the owner told me.
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