Ocha Nyama by Marlin
Delectable Food Served in a Gorgeous Setting
Foodies and interior design nerds are abuzz over the newcomer on Lusaka’s restaurant scene; the popular hangout spot has quickly risen amongst the ranks, capturing its residents’ hearts and imagination.
Ocha Nyama by Marlin is appreciated for its lively atmosphere, upbeat music, shisha and cigar service and delicious braaied sizzling meats full of that smoky charcoal flavour. Co-owner Morgan shares, “Our original plan was to provide a nshima place at East Park Mall that provides braaied meats, stews, oxtail and traditional vegetables.” Beyond this, Ocha Nyama has taken the city by storm. Morgan continues, “when we opened the restaurant, it organically turned into a pre-drinking spot where people come to begin their night’s adventure.”
The restaurant is highly rated for its ambience and design. The quirky, industrial-chic aesthetic will dazzle you. The entrance is unassuming and deceptively subtle, but once you step inside, you’ll be invited into an expansive space layered with eye-catching design features, such as the eclectic artwork on the walls and graffiti across the metal sheet ceiling. Other eye-catching unique design elements include the thatched wall, large windows, exposed red brick and light fixtures. Even the furniture has been meticulously curated to add to the funky, artistic rustic vibe. The aesthetics were planned carefully, as nothing felt random or was left to chance. “It was beautiful to watch a local artist transform our artistic thoughts into reality with his hands. We were pleasantly shocked by how he remodelled this space,” Ocha Nyama co-owner Sholay shared. Ocha Nyama stops at nothing when it comes to being unique, as even the signage for the male and female restrooms is unconventional.
For a more private setting, the restaurant includes a VIP lounge, which seats up to thirty people, strategically located on the elevated indoor terrace and provides an aerial view of the entire space.
After taking in the sights, it was time to order. Upon noticing my indecision on which drink to order, the waitress recommended sex on the mpasa cocktail, one of the restaurant’s top sellers. The fruity cocktail was a vibrant pink and was served in an enormous glass that looked and tasted like summer. It was garnished with fresh strawberries and orange slices.
Morgan recommended the battered kapenta and fried okra with a lemon butter sauce. The okra was cut into thin strips, coated in a batter and fried. Similarly, the fresh kapenta was also battered to hold the moisture and deep-fried. This is not how okra and kapenta are traditionally prepared in Zambia, so I was a little sceptical but also intrigued. I was pleasantly surprised at the bold flavours and impressed with the creativity of incorporating local foods traditionally prepared and repurposed into lively, unconventional finger food.
I drooled as I spotted my waitress approaching with my main meal from the serving bay. A rack of juicy, sticky pork ribs sitting on a wooden board, with a side of chips and a pickled salad. It was perfectly grilled, a meat lover’s heaven; I was lost in the flavour.
I opted for the chocolate brownie served with vanilla ice cream for dessert. The brownie tasted delightful; it was warm, dense, and sticky and had a sweet toffee consistency. As I took my final bite, I came away satisfied with the food and overall experience. The signature Ocha Nyama dishes, the beautiful setting and the vibe all come together for the perfect experience.
Ocha Nyama is located at Lusaka’s East Park Mall, directly accessible through the Thabo Mbeki road entrance. The restaurant operates every day of the week from 11:30hrs – 22:00hrs and until late over the weekend.
Ocha Nyama opened in October 2022 and quickly became a fan favourite among people who love delicious grilled meats and thoughtfully designed spaces. It has also become the go-to joint for people to begin their nights out. Patrons visit for the ambience as much as the tasty cuisine.
Traditional food with a twist
You can sample familiar local fare like nshima at Ocha Nyama but also try traditional foods prepared in a way you’ve never seen.