Ice Cream
Chicken in Schezwan Sauce

Overview & Features

Nawab’s Asian Bistro, Kampala is situated on 2nd floor of Acacia Mall and offers a superb selection of fine Pan Asain cuisine to eat in or take away.

Map Address

1 Reviews

  1. Daniel Tumwine says:


    The Kampala Restaurant Week offers a unique opportunity to sample Kampala’s best restaurants.

    We divided our week thematically; and Wednesday was Indian night.

    We chose the Nawab Asian Bistro. The brand is well known. It has a branch at the Garden City Rooftop.

    On December 31st 2015, they opened a more couture establishment with a broader Asian genre.

    What is less well known however, is that it opened its first restaurant at the Speke Hotel opposite Kampala Sheraton serving under the ‘Maharaj’ name.

    They’re also a growing name in Dubai where they have a couple more establishments. With aggressive expansion, they have opened more restaurants in Australia and Singhapore.

    But the Kampala restaurants remain their crown jewels.


    We arrived at the second floor Acacia Mall restaurant at seven pm for an hour’s meal.

    Our idiosyncratic request is to have the establishment serve us a three course meal within an hour.

    The challenge was accepted.


    There was no greeter or seater at the door. We wandered in, sauntering with exaggerated hesitation in case someone would come up to us.

    They did not.

    We were eventually seated by Justine.

    But only after complaining to her about being left to our cares in the foyer for over 3 minutes.

    For an establishment that promised so much sophistication and refinement, this was disappointing.

    If, in a meal, the secret is in the sauce, then for any business, the secret is in the staff.

    Smartly dressed with an unassuming demeanor, Justine carried herself in the typical “femme-Kampala” fashion; a rehearsed shy look with a hidden smile; an air devoid of confidence and dread to be asked questions lest she be outted as lacking competence and; a shallow, bored gaze that offers little emotion unless deepened by the offer of reward.


    The milieu intérieur was classy and welcoming.

    It promised the sound of light fingers stroking the black and white keys of a Bösendorfer. But the piano sounds never materialized.

    There appeared to be an hierarchy to the space and arrangement of the place.

    In the dominant chamber, the references to a synthesis of post minimalistic styles and a slight tendency to eclecticism were hard to miss.

    The lighting was well thought out. The colour coding -simple, soft and dichromatic- even more so.

    However the furnishing seemed to have been left behind. It appeared to have been assembled by a person longing for a Bauhausian renaissance -bland and devoid of personality.

    The “objet d’art” invading the back wall was an oversized segmented African motif that tried frustratingly to blend with the soft background. Like a voyeur, straining to hear your conversations through an uneasy ambiance.

    The outer chamber guided your footsteps to the outer external terrace.

    The terrace, with the much vaunted scenic panoramic view of a dusky Kampala was more Hollywood chic blemished, unfortunately, by cheap middle green Astroturf painfully mimicking the lush interlacustrine vegetation.

    We chose a sheltered spot.

    There are no tables for two at the Nawab Bistro and so our four seat table intersected the two sections of the restaurant, enabling us to enjoy both the outer and inner chambers comforts at once.

    Across the table sat a soiree of young female millenials excitedly tasting the offers. Selfie camera in hand. Smiled pose perfectly timed. The novelty of fine dining unconvincingly hidden behind a mask of imperfectly performed nonchalance.


    The tableware was simple. But hot.

    My mother always told me the insignia of a Michelin candidate restaurant was the temperature of its cutlery and plates. I’ve intuitively applied this anecdotal standard countless times.

    And Nawab Asian Bistro passed.

    The cutlery arrangement was the Three Course Informal. But the waiters seemed to not have confidence in our ability to chose our eating instruments, and had the slightly paternalistic habit of placing the correct fork on our plate, as if prompting a nihilistic diner to accept their regimented feeding methodology.


    Waving away the à la carte menu we requested for the Kampala Restaurant Week “table d’hôte” line up.

    To our astonishment, the servings were Cantonese!

    From the South China dimsum entrée preparations, the main chicken in schezuan sauce, to the Korean daarsan dessert.

    This Indo-Sino incongruity however was later explained away by Kumar, the erstwhile manager, stating that Pearlguide Uganda, the organizers of the Kampala Restaurant Week, chooses the menu from a pre-submitted list of entry dishes.

    We quickly ordered.


    For a starter, I chose the chicken dimsum.

    This dish is said to be the one that the skill of a dim sum chef is judged on.

    The chicken dumpling is a slight variation of its cousin the shrimp dumping.

    The chicken was encased in a thin translucent wrapper made from wheat starch and tapioca flour, delicately pleated on one side.

    Brought to plate, the wrapper had the mandatory seven pleats imprinted. Only a chef schooled in Guangdong meals will know this.

    I later learnt that Chef Thappa was scouted by Nawab after spending time in culinary schools in Turkey and Oman.

    To allow minimal cross-pollination of seasonings and flavors and to encourage congenial cohabitation on the table, the dimsum nestled inside the traditional bamboo basket was served accompanied by separate red chilli, soy and vinegar in onion sauces.

    In terms of palatial pleasure, the entrée was heavenly.

    As far as hors d’œuvre go, this was one of my better feeds.

    The “palate provocateur” was the potpourri of spices and seasonings in the chicken that released a mélange of tastes whose unnuanced pleasures can’t be broken down into its simple arithmetic of garlic, ginger and scallions.

    There was the geographical hint of western China with its sweetened spiced cinnamon and cumin, brought home to Sanskrit northern India through the aromatic fenugreek and coriander lemony flavor, and raising the palatial senses through the Himalayas to settle on more familiar east-Indian spiced hot papprika.

    A geo-symphonic tribute to the diverse dishes of Sino-India in ‘A’ major!

    But for time, an encore was in order!

    Main Course:

    For the main course I asked for the chicken in schezwan sauce.

    Optically, to the untrained eye, it’s an uglier identical twin of the more well known kadhai chicken but the liberal spices and garlic should give it a spicy twang.

    May be it was post dimsum haze.

    Or the hastily arranged vegetable rice accompanying the serving, whatever it was, there was a palpable decrescendo response to the savory impulses.

    The flavors almost defeated the palate and it appears the chicken had gone weak on the stove.

    Disappointingly, the chicken tasted like, well, chicken.


    The dessert, just like an Alex Mukulu play, conjured hope of a grand finale to disguise a prolonged middle section.

    But, alas.

    The daarsan -honeyed noodles with vanilla ice cream- option felt bland and too sweetened.

    Beyond the pitting temperature, one could hardly taste the vanilla in the ice cream.

    But this is unfair.

    I’m not a sweet tooth.

    So, try as I may, I could not bring myself to be swayed by its masterful presentation.

    I’m convinced though that a diner with a sweeter palate would have found it heavenly.


    Our choice of drinks was dictated by previous reviews of the restaurant.

    As a wine connoisseur one would have expected that I choose from the wide array of choices.

    Indeed I did spend a couple of minutes mulling over a wine list that evidences Nawab’s open-minded curiosity.

    Like every other restaurant in town, Nawab stocks some stars of the natural wine movement. It’s also picking up on the Latin signals coming out of the wine growing Sicily. But other choices show an independence from the latest trends, like a violet-scented, mid palated Varamonte Pinot Noir from Chile.

    However, on multiple Trip Advisor reviews, the Chocolate Island Cocktail garners blue ribbon reviews.

    Served chilled, the tequila base fought a losing battle with the smooth chocolate. As such, the contrasting taste left, well a bitter taste in my mouth. The zest that accompanies most cocktails had been tamed. The palate hardy registered its presence.

    However, as far as cocktails go, the ground it covers is mostly the middle one but with enough flourishes to keep your mind from wandering too far.


    Overall, the service was personable. The maître d’, a smartly dressed, bow tied gentlemen, with a quick eye, not long out of his twenties, did pass by half way through our meal to ask if all was well. Of which it was.

    The Nawab Asian Bistro reminds me of KLM.

    Great brand.

    Great history.

    But not as good as the middle eastern carriers. But still much, much better than the American ones.

    It definitely has a lot going for it. I think it belongs to the “Fine Dining” Category of the Kampala Restaurant Week’s.

    It is infinitely better than its sister establishment at Garden City.

    Just like KLM, I’d pay top dollar to experience some of the heavenly senses that it offers. But as soon as another airline came, offering more for less, I’d sooner travel through Dubai than Amsterdam.

    I give them an eight.

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