Soi Restaurant at the recently reopened dusitD2 Nairobi has revamped its food. It’s menu now offers Pan Asian cuisine and Chef Afen, straight from Bali heads the kitchen.
The restaurant has retained a contemporary chic ambience with a touch of Asian decor.
The inside lighting lending itself to evening dining, we decided to dine al fresco. Thankfully, the weather was lovely despite the recent impromptu bouts of rain in Nairobi.
The menu has light hearted puns for headings such as “send noods” for a section offering noodles such as udon, ramen and mee goreng.
A “oh, hey there sweet stuff” section offers desserts such as banana fritters and chocolate fondant. “Wok n roll” offers stir fries such as nasi goreng and gung pao, while the cheeky “hot & steamy” section has hot dishes such as bao and gyoza.
A little uncertain about what to order with this being my debut into South-East Asian cuisine, the waitress took us through the menu and we opted for her recommendations.
I ate crab dish which has mango, cilantro and chilli. This dish packs a punch, with the heat from the chilli and sour-sweetness from the mango hitting the taste buds at the same time.
The chef uses fresh fruits to elevate flavours in the dishes. The red snapper crudo, for instance, had a delightful orange mix, with the citrus fruit bursting in the mouth to release the flavour which instantly complemented the spicy ginger.
The laksa was also an instant favourite. It has wonton, a boiled-then-halved egg, prawn, hokkien noodles with a hint of chilli. It is prepared in the typical Singaporean style.
The Cantonese dish dubbed Heavenly beef (usually referred to as beef black pepper) can easily appeal to the typical Kenyan palate. Chef Afen makes it differently by not only adding truffle oil, but putting it in last so that the flavour of the dish is not destroyed.
And don’t get me started on the green chicken curry which is made with keffir lime and bamboo shoots …
Chef Afen said he wants to bring authentic Balinese and South East Asian cuisine to Nairobi, with dishes coming from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and China. He is currently training a Kenyan team.
Indonesia has diverse tastes while Balinese has a rich, exotic collection of snacks and desserts.
Faced with challenges of finding some indigenous ingredients in Nairobi, the chef has resorted to making his own pastes.
He makes shrimp paste which he adds to every non-vegetarian curry paste at the Soi kitchen.
On how he started cooking, he says, “I was inspired by my mom who taught me the value of patience in the kitchen. I like cooking and serving people. I bring my mother’s philosophy of cooking with love to the Soi kitchen.”
This restaurant is ideal for couples looking to dress up and go out on a playful dinner date, a family wanting to bond over exotic cuisine to a colleague looking to impress dinner guests.