Aniello’s (Diani, Kenya)

Cross-posted from


While in Diani, we ate our best non-Olive Branch meal at a cute little Italian place called Aniello’s, recommended by Hassan from Kenyaways. The place has a romantic atmosphere, and seems to be a popular hangout for visiting Italians. Unfortunately the mood lighting made photography with our point-and-shoot difficult. But we shared a good pizza, crab ravioli, and a scoop of tiramisu gelato. I don’t remember the name of the pizza we tried, but it was the best pizza we’ve had in East Africa and featured two types of cheese, basil, and tomato sauce. The crust was thin and flaky, with the right amount of crunchiness. The crab ravioli were extremely fresh, although one needed to be a bit careful of the stray bits of crab shell hidden inside a few of them (oops!)

It’s a great little spot, and I’d certainly recommend it over most other options in Diani – for one thing, the pizzas are much better than those at Forty Thieves.

Aniello’s apparently has two locations in Diani – the one we chose was further north, across from the Barclay’s bank and just past the Nakumatt. There is another one in the Diani Shopping Center, although Hassan told us that the one we chose has the better menu of the two, most notably for the inclusion of the pizzas.

The pizza looked better in person than this photo attests

Crab ravioli
Fresh crab ravioli

Diani, Kenya

The Olive Branch (Galu, Kenya)

Cross-posted from


The stretch of sand occupied by Kenyaways, where we spent most of our time over the past four days, is a bit isolated from the action of Diani, to the north. Even beach resorts and hotels are quite spread out on that part of the coast. As such, it is extremely convenient that Kenyaways has a fantastic and reasonably-priced restaurant, the Olive Branch. We consumed all of our lunches there, and we wished that we had opted to stay for dinner on two of the three occasions that we ventured up to Diani for mediocre food.

During our four day stay, we sampled many different dishes, including the ceviche and smoked sailfish salad, falafel burger, Thai fish cake, prawn and avocado salad, grilled prawns, butternut-lentil-coconut curry, big garden salad, and the hamburger (Kenny, not me). The ceviche, served with toast, was quite tasty, although its consistency was more like a tuna fish salad than most ceviches I have tried. The falafel burger was certainly a standout, a delicious chickpea patty on a homemade bun, served with a fresh salad. I also loved the butternut-lentil-coconut curry, which tasted like Thai-Indian fusion, and was served with rice and chapattis. The Thai fish cakes were two juicy fish patties, pan fried but not greasy, served with a large helping of salad. They were delicious, and could also have been great on a bun as a fish burger. The big garden salad was extremely fresh, and featured greens heaped with a big spoonful of feta-like cheese, tomatoes, avocado, capers, and several types of nuts. Yum.

The restaurant staff, Alex, Hassan, and David, were always helpful and amazingly friendly. Hassan told us that the Olive Branch was the best restaurant in the area, and we believed him. He also recommended Aniello’s in Diani, where we had a very nice Italian meal.

If you find yourself at Galu Beach, definitely stay at Kenyaways for the laid-back kite surfing vibe (even if you don’t kite surf!), excellent balcony views, and perfect beach. And while you’re there, you could do much worse (trust us, we did!) than eating all your meals at the Olive Branch.

Big garden salad
Big garden salad

Falafel burger
Falafel burger

Ceviche and sailfish salad
Tuna ceviche and sailfish salad

Prawn and avocado salad
Prawn and avocado salad

Thai fish cakes
Thai fish cakes

The Olive Branch, Kenyaways
Galu Beach, Kenya
+254 (0) 728 886 821

Hallimane (Bangalore, India)

Cross-posted from


Hallimane was one of the best restaurants that Archana introduced me and Kenny to last fall, and we returned this week with our Seattle friends for a decadent lunch feast. It is conveniently located in Malleswaram, just a short walk from Sean and Archana’s apartment and an even shorter walk from the wedding hotel.

Its name is Kannada for “village house,” indicating that the menu features the typical foods of rural Karnataka. Of course, for variety, there is also an array of North Indian dishes available, but everything is vegetarian.

Like many casual lunch joints here in Bangalore, Hallimane has a system where customers order and pay at the counter and then deliver receipts to various stations to collect their food. Most hot dishes can be picked up indoors, while ragi and akki rotis as well as parotas must be collected from the men working the flat grill outside. Because Hallimane is always packed, this process involves elbowing your way through throngs of people, and is not recommended for claustrophobics.

Two of their signature dishes are made of ragi, the grain of Karnataka: ragi roti, and ragi mudde, which is a mushy steamed ball of grain. The mudde was certainly not for me, but Kenny and I love love loved the roti, which is made from a batter that includes onions, chilies and dill. We even tried making our own in Archana’s kitchen last fall, but had problems with the rotis falling apart. Thus was born our invention of the ragi waffle.

On our visit with the Seattle friends, we devoured a huge two-round feast, including several orders of ragi roti, two akki roti (made of rice flour), two aloo parota, one ragi mudde for everyone to try (no one enjoyed it much more than I had on the first visit), and a rava idly. We even tried a couple of North Indian dishes this time – channa masala, shahi paneer, naan, and kulcha – and they were excellent, probably the best North Indian I’ve had in Bangalore. For less than $2/person everyone was in food heaven, followed by a huge food coma that threatened to impede our last-minute wedding reception shopping.

Overall, it was an epic food day, starting with Veena for breakfast, continuing with Hallimane for lunch, and finishing off with a huge dinner buffet at Jayamahal for Sean and Archana’s wedding reception.

Lunch at Hallimane
Mini-feast at Hallimane with Kenny and Archana last fall

Kenny and Archana
Kenny and Archana love Hallimane

Hallimane feast
Hallimane feast with the Seattle friends

Hallimane chefs
These guys make the delicious ragi and akki rotis

3rd cross Sampige Road
Bangalore, India 560003

Som Tam Hut (Mae Hong Son, Thailand)

Cross-posted from


On our first day in Mae Hong Son, a crazy lady in the morning market realized, as we were inspecting her “for rent” sign, that we were in search of an apartment. She didn’t speak any English, so she dragged us by the arm to a small restaurant on the main road, where she enlisted the help of the chef to serve as translator for our housing negotiation. We decided that her apartment was too far away from town and too expensive, but we took note of the restaurant location and decided to return for lunch.

It turned out to be the first of many meals at Som Tam Hut, a new, sparklingly clean papaya salad joint. We learned on that first visit that the tiny restaurant was owned by a pretty Thai woman, Lala, and her Dutch fiancé, Tobey, who was also the entire wait staff. Lala slaves away in the kitchen, pounding traditional Isan-style papaya salads in her big mortar and pestle. We learned later that she also sings at the only nightclub in town, which we still need to check out one of these days. Tobey is a friendly guy, who took an interest in our housing search and our volunteer work, and offered us some advice on places to check out in the area, as well as some tips from what he has learned over the years in Thailand. Things like the great benefits of the kratom plant, which can mostly be found in Thailand, and how we could incorporate it into our menu.

The menu offers a few varieties of papaya salads, although the most popular is the classic, Som Tam Thai. Lala makes hers on a spiciness scale with choices of: Zero => Mild => Normal => Spicy => Hot. Tobey and Lala were skeptical when we ordered ours “Hot,” but Lala agreed to prepare it that way. It certainly was hot, but also extremely delicious, with chili-lime-fish sauce dressing that dribbled down onto my chin and burned my skin. I loved it. The fresh shredded green papaya, crunchy peanuts, carrots, tomatoes, and secret formula dressing made a perfect combination. It wasn’t the first Thai papaya salad I had tried, but it was certainly one of the best-executed. We also tried some new things: Som Tam Fruit, which is similar to the traditional salad, but made with pineapple, tomato, rose apple, grapes, peanuts, chilies, and the same delicious spicy dressing; and eating sticky rice, with our hands, as a papaya salad accompaniment.

The English menu (Thai menu here if that’s your style). I love #2 and #5.

Lala’s ingredients are always fresh – Kenny and I often run into her at the morning market – and she is not afraid to scratch certain items off her menu on days that she can’t find high-quality fruits and vegetables.

Ever since that first visit to Som Tam Hut, we’ve been telling ourselves we’ll branch out and try new things, but we we are so addicted to the Som Tam Thai and Som Tam Fruit (with a side of sticky rice, of course), that we haven’t actually done it yet. Once when Daniel was visiting we all shared a side of fried chicken, which was, well, fried chicken. It was a bit greasy and seemed out of place next to our healthy delicious salads. We come here so often that we were the first farang to fill up a buy-10-salads-get-one-free card, and we’re well on our way to completing a second.

Som Tam Thai
Som tam thai

Som Tam Polomai
Som tam polomai (fruit)

Lauren with som tam Kenny with som tam
Happy som tam consumers


Som Tam Hut
Singhanart Bamrung, near the intersection with Khunlum Paraphat
Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Tues-Sun, 11:00am-7:00pm

Dosa Corner (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

Cross-posted from


With all due respect to Khmer food, Phnom Penh seemed like a great place to sample some international fare. We passed by Dosa Corner, in BKK1, during our walk down to Tuol Sleng, and decided that we would return later for dinner to satisfy our growing cravings for South Indian food.

The menu features a huge array of options, including many varieties of dosa that I had never encountered before. Ironically enough, we ordered 3 dishes, and none of them were dosas. Kenny was just dying for an idly, the waiter strongly recommended the kottu parota (a Tamil Nadu specialty), and we decided to round out the meal with a channa masala for some protein (even though we know this is more northern fare).

The kottu parota was good but certainly odd – it tasted like Indian pad see ew! We’re certainly spoiled for idlies after spending 6 weeks living across the street from Veena, but we enjoyed the PP rendition, especially the accompanying chutneys and sambar. The channa masala reminded me of the first channa masala I made when we were in Bangalore – which is not to say that it was bad, but it was very tomato-ey.

Overall, it was not an amazing dinner, but it helped indulge our South Indian nostalgia. It’s worth checking out if you’re in BKK1 and craving a dosa.


Kottu parota – minced parota with egg, onion, and spices


Dosa Corner
N. 5E, Pasteur (Street 51)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia 12302
+855 (0)12 673 276