Located at Kaunda Avenue, Mombasa, Kenya, MNKafe may seem like it is a little bit off the beaten tourist path, but it’s worth the trail. Now, whilst I love to travel to new restaurants and cafes, this is one café that I am a regular customer of when I am in Mombasa. It has to be one of my favourite cafes in the world and trust me when I say, I have been to many cafes including in the European capital of cafés, Vienna, where I have enjoyed Café Mozart, Café Museum and Café Landtmann. These are some of the most well-known and famous cafes in the world and whilst MNKafe is not as well known or magnanimous, there is something quite so special about it that makes one wish to return.
So, if you’re in Mombasa, I would certainly urge you to visit this quaint café in the residential area of Kizingo and I am thrilled to be sharing it with you. Please do read on, if you’re ready to have your taste buds rocked!
How and when did MNKafe come to the cafe scene?
What makes MNKafe stand out amongst its international café competitors is that there really is a personal touch to the experience that you have there. This includes sometimes even meeting the owner who is a professional chef and a well-known expert in the foodie-realms. He initially created a small kitchen in New York in 2000 that was known as the “Spice Grill” through which his team provided catering services for local events ranging from weddings to communal gatherings and in 2008, he decided to make a transit from the United States to Africa and picked Mombasa, Kenya as his next destination.
Since 2009, he created MNK Patisserie, which later formed into MNKafe and was initially based in the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town. In 2015, he decided to make a shift to the more suburban neighbourhood of Kzingo, where he has more space to share his culinary dreams with more locals in the vicinity. However, if you’re a tourist, I would recommend that you book a taxi through your hotel and head on over to MNKafe too. On route, you will get to see the Mombasa Lighthouse and how locals in Mombasa live in the Kizingo neighbourhood.
Welcoming to people of all backgrounds and ages
Within stepping into MNKafe, you will immediately notice that there are so many people of different backgrounds, cultures and ages sitting and enjoying themselves in this place. If you visit on a weekday, you will spot school children hanging out during their break time or after school, local and foreign workers grabbing lunch and the Kizingo residents eagerly tucking into the savoury and sweet items.
There is both indoor and outdoor seating available and with this gorgeous and clean eatery being based on a quiet and safe residential street, you can really get a feel for Kenyan life at its best. As you can see from the photograph, there are car parking facilities available. I would recommend that if you visit for breakfast or a late evening snack, then you sit outside under the creeping sun and stars as it is really lovely. Alternatively, if you are visiting for lunch or in the afternoon, I would urge you to sit inside and enjoy the air-con and have a few moments away from the powerful sunrays that are in full blast in the outdoors.
The seating within the café varies, so you will certainly find an area that suits your comfort needs, whether it be a comfy booth or a low-table with little chairs, there will be some type of arrangement that works for you. This is important because there are cafes that purposefully have seating that isn’t very comfortable, to prevent customers hogging the seats for too long — and I’m happy to tell you that MNKafe is not one of those places. You are welcome to stay there for as long as you wish and are not rushed out of the door once you’ve finished your meal.
The opening hours for MNKafe vary depending on the day in the week in which you visit, so I would advise you to check out its website before visiting. The café is two storeys, so if when you enter the ground floor is populated, please don’t worry as there may be space upstairs. Whether you sit outside or inside (on the ground or first floor), you will definitely feel the zen-like vibe throughout the whole place. There are also a number of plants and little ornaments and objects that enhance this environment and make it quite relaxing and unusual. For example, there is a cute little clock that is in the shape of a teacup and saucer that I especially adore.
A wide variety of options on the menu
The delightful leather covered menu is broken down into breakfast, cold and hot drinks, Belgian waffles, a savoury selection of items and ice cream sundaes and desserts. I am thrilled to tell you about a few of my favourite items on this menu, which will hopefully encourage you to visit this savoury and sweet heaven!
Breakfast is served until 11.30 am from Tuesday – Sunday and the French toast and pancakes are totally delicious. If you’re erring to being a bit more healthy during your visit, then you will be pleased to know that there is an “eggcellent” section on the menu that includes all dishes made from eggs — so get your dosage of early morning protein in at MNKafe.
Iced tea, lemonade, mocktails and milkshakes!
From the cold drinks on the menu, you have the option of having different types of iced tea, lemonade, mocktails and milkshakes. I would have to urge you to try the lemonade that has fresh ginger and a hint of vanilla (costing 350 KSH/4 USD) as it’s a refreshing detox type of drink that you need in order to cope with the hot Kenyan weather! If you’re looking for something a bit more fruity, then any of the mocktails are recommended and are served in cute little jars with a straw. My favourite of the cocktails has to be the strawberry mojito (costing 360 KSH/4 USD) which is featured in the photograph above.
If you’re feeling like you want something a bit sweeter and a little bit heavier, then you should go for one of the many milkshakes on offer. Caring about your cost and thirst, MNKafe has the option of two sizes for milkshakes — one an adult size whilst the other a kids’ size. There are some classic flavours like vanilla, strawberry and banana to some more awesome options like Oreo cookies and cream, Maltesers and Ferrero Rocher. If you’re looking to try something a bit more unusual, then the Persian saffron (costing 450 KSH/5 USD), which is a mixture of rose, saffron, cardamom and pistachio, is the one to pick. My all-time favourite, however, has to be the peanut butter chocolate (costing 450 KSH/5 USD), which unsurprisingly is featured in the photograph too.
Wedges rubbed and coated in spices
The savoury items on the MNKafe menu feature sides, salads, different types of potato wedges, hot dogs, chicken wings, sandwiches, wraps and burgers. Now, if you’re only able to visit MNKafe once, then you have to try the north African paneer skewers (costing 350 KSH/4 USD), which is listed as a side item on the menu. It is is an Indian cheese that is marinated in north African spices, olive oil and coriander and is served with an unforgettable coriander, mint and onion yoghurt. Get the taste of two continents in one with this dish! Looking for something a little bit healthier? Perhaps try the freshly prepared Greek salad (costing 500 KSH/5 USD) that will re-energise you and give you a taste of some gorgeous Kenyan vegetables fused together to create a European salad.
If you’re from England and you’re a bit homesick, then perhaps the salt and vinegar wedges may take your fancy. Alternatively, if you can take the heat, the periperi spiced wedges have your name written all over them. Periperi is an African spice which is rubbed and coated on the wedges before landing in your mouth! I would recommend that you try the black pepper and lemon wedges, which have that spicy yet citrusy twang to them and are accompanied by a gorgeous and flavoursome mayonnaise. None of these wedges appealing to you? Well, you will be surprised to know that MNKafe also offers garlic and herb wedges, rosemary butter wedges and also wedges called the “five alarm”, which are seriously hot wedges (even hotter than the periperi wedges!). A portion of wedges costs between 250–300 KSH (3 USD).
Flavorsome sandwiches and wraps available
If you’re feeling like going all-out, I would recommend that you order some other dishes to accompany the sides and wedges. MNKafe offers some tasty, well-cooked and flavoursome dishes including its sandwiches and wraps. I would suggest that you consider having the grilled cheese sandwich (costing 300 KSH/4 USD) which includes a combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheese with some sliced tomatoes and onions. Now, whilst this looks like a simple sandwich, I must tell you that I have been to many places where even the simplest dish can be made into a disaster. MNKafe is not such a place and actually enhances this quite simple dish by grilling the cheese well and seasoning the sandwich so it’s got that extra kick that makes you enjoy it. Both the spicy potato wrap and feta cheese and black olive wrap (costing 350 KSH/4 USD) are recommended and provided to you in freshly made tortillas.
Gourmet hot chocolate with an edible spoon
The drinks section in the menu spans pages and is another reason as to why you visit this paradise-like café. Only the best cafes take their drinks offering so seriously, so it’s no surprise that MNKafe has such varieties in the drinks it wants you to experience. The hot drinks sections is separated into pressed coffee and more, tea and gourmet hot chocolate. With Kenya being known for its coffee beans, you can’t possibly visit this country and not sample some coffee. I can guarantee that you will forget what you have experienced anywhere in the world and will remember the coffee you try at MNKafe.
Coffee is fresh from bean to cup and the cappuccinos and lattes are calling out to you. Quality, innovation and that something special is delivered at MNKafe in abundance. Just a quick glance at the options available show this to you. The gingerbread latte (costing 300 KSH/4 USD) is to die for, the spiced turmeric latte (costing 380 KSH/4 USD) wakes your tastebuds up and the Nutella cappuccino (costing 400 KSH/5 USD) is a dream for those with a sweet tooth! From the choice of teas, you have not lived if you have not sampled the saffron spiced tea (costing 250 KSH/ 3 USD), which actually takes 20 minutes to prepare, is certainly a drink that will keep you coming back to MNKafe time and time again.
If you want something a little bit sweeter than coffee, then the “gourmet hot chocolates” are definitely a must. I would recommend that you sample the paradise or eden hot chocolate (costing 300-320 KSH/4 USD), both which come with a chocolate spoon, perfect for dipping into your hot chocolate and then licking in its melted form. The eden hot chocolate includes ground spices so it’s a little bit spicy, and not just in the traditional hot chocolate sense. If you’re looking for a more traditional (albeit fancy and glamorous) hot chocolate with a non-spicy spin then I would recommend you try the Asian inspired and injection of sweetness Shangri-La hot chocolate (costing 380 KSH/4 USD), which is a hot chocolate with chocolate chip ice cream, whipped cream, and cocoa and chocolate sauce!
This waffle utopia beats waffles in Brussels
Belgian waffles in Kenya? Really? Yes, of course as they’re made at MNKafe! I am a true lover of Belgian chocolate and waffles and have travelled to Brussels on numerous occasions. Each time, I have embraced the waffle culture and had waffles being served on the streets by Grand Place to waffles being served in cafes in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Now, whilst the quality of these waffles has been great, they have lacked one thing — creativity in variety. I have found the variety I seek in MNKafe and wholeheartedly advise you to get yourself to this waffle utopia!
The extensive range of waffles will blow you away! You can try the Arabian dessert waffle (480 KSH/5 USD), which is a waffle made from dates, nuts and spices and is topped with chocolate and date sauce, nuts and chocolate chip ice cream and some whipped cream. Perhaps the Tiramisu waffle (550 KSH/6 USD), which is a waffle that is made with mocha and espresso and is covered with a creamy mascarpone and vanilla, chocolate and coffee ice cream and a generous offering of espresso sauce is for you instead? Looking for something with a bit of fruit? Well, the berry cheesecake waffle (costing 550 KSH/6 USD), featured in the photograph, is a graham crusted waffle that is topped with whipped cheesecake, strawberry and blueberry syrup, fresh strawberries and a side scoop of vanilla ice cream. Oh my, just thinking about how I enjoyed this dessert is making me hungry. It’s the type of dessert that is hard to forget and easy to miss.
No doubt you can tell from the photograph that MNKafe gets full marks for presentation too. The waffles are delicious and have that edge over the ones that I’ve sampled in Belgium, so please do try them when you’re at MNKafe. If you don’t feel like you can finish a full waffle, then don’t worry as MNKafe offers the option of having a half waffle or a full waffle. The berry cheesecake waffle featured is a half waffle sampling.
If you’re in a group and fancy having more than just waffles, then you will be thrilled to know that MNKafe also offers the option of having ice cream sundaes with different flavoured ice creams including strawberry, butterscotch, coffee and even coconut. The price for the sundaes varies and is from 400–580 KSH/5–6 USD. Alternatively, if you’re looking for another hot and cold dessert to accompany your waffle, then the Hailstorm (350 KSH/4 USD) is recommended. The Hailstorm consists of deep fried banana fritters and is served with a hot sauce, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chopped walnuts. Tempted? I bet you are.
Tastebud-tantalising and addictive items
Having been to countless cafes in the world, this is one café that is a stand-out from the crowd for all sorts of delicious cravings. Whether it be day or night, MNKafe is the place to be. It never disappoints and offers the most addictive and tastebud-tantalising items for consumption and that at a brilliant price. Each visit that I have made to MNKafe has convinced me that you do not need to be cautious when deciding which item to try as each dish is fantastic in its quality and generous quantity! With such a range of delicacies, I am very much looking forward to sampling more of the varieties on the menu when I am back in Mombasa. Keep it up MNKafe and see you very, very soon!
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