Nyama choma at the Royal Car Wash


Roasted meats like chicken and goat are served at The Royal Car Wash. / Internet photo

Believe it or not, The Royal Car Wash, or simply Car Wash, is one of the better known spots in Kigali. The knowledge of this place goes beyond the borders as most people coming to Rwanda for the first time are usually on the lookout for this spot.

As you have surmised from the name, Car Wash is indeed that, a car wash spot. Other services include retail clothing stores, sports betting and a barber shop but the real gem here is the bar and restaurant serving an array of drinks, grilled meats and buffet.

Nyama choma, a Swahili phrase for grilled or roast meat is a staple of East Africa but more specifically, a Kenyan culture that has spread across the region. The nyama in question here is usually goat and this is served in plenty at Car Wash.

As expected, the predominant patrons at the venue are Kenyans living and working in Rwanda or just visiting. However, this place is popular even amongst the Rwandan and East African population and on any given day, there is a sizeable crowd devouring goat meat.

If one is familiar with the Kenyan style of roasting goat meat, then Car Wash is as authentic a destination as possible. Ugali and sukuma are a popular choice as sides to accompany goat leg or ribs from the grill. Other selections include liver and kidney, grilled or fried. And it is a good place to brush up on your Kiswahili.

Car Wash offers a variety of dishes for buffet during the lunch hour and the grill also caters for chicken and fish eaters. The two bars offer assorted drinks at pocket friendly prices. If you are a shooter, be prepared to take larger than normal tequila shots as there is a glaring absence of shooter glasses.

Under the watchful gaze of the proprietor, who by nature is an affable fellow, the staff is constantly on the move and not formally trained, but they do the basic service and try to ensure that you are made to feel at home. An order for your favourite nyama will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes. This might seem eons but the wait is quickly forgotten once the nyama is served. I do not know the business calculations at Car wash but portions are sizable and not for a lot of money.

From the well to do to the average, Car Wash welcomes all with open arms and if you like to mix your meat with sports, a large screen on one end and a projector on the other serve up a different kind of menu.

What used to be the parking in the original car wash has been converted into a sitting area littered with plastic chairs and tables under a huge tent to protect customers from the elements. There is plenty of parking and a garden at the back that can host private functions. An advance phone call to place your order is recommended as this will help shorten the time spent waiting to be served.

Car Wash is a simple destination, no frills but plenty of carnivorous activity. Located in Kimihurura, Car Wash is open daily from noon till late.


Chef’s Recipe : Nyama choma


• Rear goat leg or rib cut approximately 1-2Kg
• 3 tablespoons oil
• 1tsp black pepper
• 2 tbs salt
• Crushed garlic optional

1. Prepare your grill, preferably charcoal, and have it hot. Combine oil, salt and pepper and toss the meat in this mixture.
2. Grill the skewered meat, basting it occasionally with the oil mixture, until it is cooked to your desired doneness.
3. Remove the meat from the grill and serve with kachumbari, salad and ugali.