Kokkos Cafe & Bistro has become a local haunt of mine, every time I ﬁnd myself in my favourite seaside town of Diani. Now an institution amongst tourists and locals alike, I know every time I walk in I'll catch the regulars sitting at the beautiful wooden bar/coffee counter, nursing their favourite tipple and enjoying the days special. Sometimes I'm lucky, and I'll catch Kokkos hosting one of their infamous events, a darts night, a koroga competition - always merry and ﬁlled with raucous laughter that you can probably hear all the way in Galu!
Hiten Ravji, the owner, started Kokkos in 2014 when he recognised the need in Diani for a cafe sort of place which, up until then, didn't exist. There was no place where locals could go to for a quick coffee and a pastry in the mornings, but also for a sumptuous dinner and fun ﬁlled evening. These sorts of restaurants are so readily available now in Nairobi and other parts of the world. After studying hospitality in Cape Town, and culinary arts in Vancouver, and drawing inspiration from the cute coffee shops lining the streets of Paris and Rome, he realised he could combine both his passion for good food with the need in the market to create a lively, yet efﬁcient and homely spot for all to enjoy.
The Kokkos menu was inspired by things that were quick to throw together, yet diverse enough to keep everyone happy (Hitens personal favourite being the Eggs Benedict). The dishes draw inspiration from all over the world, with kung pao chicken from China, American inspired burgers, Viennese Schnitzels, Italian pastas and of course, Indian curries. The counter also always has a gorgeous display of at least 14 different types pastries on offer, freshly made each day. Kokkos has even started supplying wedding cakes as well for the happy couples that choose Diani as their wedding venue of choice for their big day.
Curious behind the dish named Mummy's Samosas, I asked Hiten to explain further. His mum, he said, was one of the main inspirations behind his venture into the culinary arts, being such a fantastic cook herself. Her curries and samosas have always been celebrated in Diani Town (I know this personally, I've tried them myself and they are delicious). So when Hiten opened his own place - Mum had to provide these dishes as, in his own words, no one could make them better!
I've tried various dishes off the menu at Kokkos from my regular jaunts and visits, and my favourites include the smoked sailﬁsh, the calamari tails, the eggs Benedict and the kung pao chicken. The ﬁsh and seafood, as you would expect, is beautifully fresh and tender with no unpleasant aftertaste that you sometimes get from the frozen stuff in Nairobi. The eggs Benedict ﬁlls you up and gets you ready to face a hot day in the Diani sun with it's beautifully light, whipped hollandaise. Finally, the kung pao chicken is my favourite evening meal, with a glass of chilled wine ready too cool down the heat from the spices on my tongue.
As an added incentive, Kokkos is celebrating it's 5th birthday this year by offering the Kokkos anniversary burger for 500 KES for the whole month of December. They are also throwing an epic party on the 14th of December that I'm sure will be legendary.
I hope to see you there!