Chinese restaurants in Nairobi are plenty, there is one around the corner from everywhere! And nowadays they are popping up faster than Chikuyu (Chinese-Kikuyu) babies on Thika Road. I’m glad they have though, I feel they bring a touch of authenticity to Chinese cuisine to Nairobi.
Sunday night, we got to experience just that. At a restaurant in Hurlingham, house number 200 Galana Road (just at the end of Lenana Road). When you see the sign, it is quite simply called CHINESE RESTAURANT. But as I found out, it is called Chongqing Hot Pot Restaurant. Chongqing is a major city in China.
We had the pleasure of being the guests of some lovely Chinese people. And they showed us how to work the hot-pot. I must explain the concept of a hot-pot…
It is a simmering metal pot of stock placed at the centre of the table. The hot-pot is split in to two with one side having a non-spicy vegetable soup and the other side a Sichuan spicy soup base.
The ingredients are placed in the pot to cook, and fished out with chopsticks or a spoon. We had mutton, shredded thinly (deli-style), fish, crab, chicken liver, gizzards, tofu, mushrooms, chinese cabbage, noodles…
I loved how thin the slices of mutton are, and it took about 30-40 seconds to cook. It is usually sliced when the meat is frozen; I’m sure any good butcher will do this for you. Seeing these wafer thin slices made me think of making a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich *daydreams*
The crabs were caught down in Tanzania, or so I was told! But they were huge and clawy… We dipped them in the spicy soup base, for about 2 minutes. They looked better once cooked.
There were some strange-looking mushrooms on the table, they looked a lot like seaweed. They are typically called wood ear mushrooms, if my research is correct. They had an intense flavour that I liked.
Then there was Tofu or bean curd, is made from coagulated soy milk. I love tofu for some reason, it soaks up the flavours really well. Been a while since I had it, and actually I’ve got a great recipe for tofu I’ll be trying this week.
The fish, was definitely my favourite for the night. cooked in the spicy based soup… I loved it!
The dipping sauce, which we mixed ourselves consisted of sesame paste, sesame oil, vinegar, garlic, chives, coriander, and a chilli paste. You dipped everything in here! It complimented the food really well, and depending on how you like it, you could add more or less sesame paste. I added more!
We were also offered some Chinese wine or whiskey, I’m not sure which it was but it was potent stuff! Came in a cute little bottle, but do not be fooled, it can blow your panties off… It was called Maotai, from a region of the same name in China. Maotai is made from wheat and sorghum, with an alcohol content between 50-55%.
I had one shot, I felt like my head was going to explode. I guess the folks have not heard the saying “pombe si uji” (alcohol is not porridge) because they were knocking them back every 5minutes! Hangovers the next day, must have been on the house.
I know you all are asking what happened to lent right about now… I’m still on lent! But these were special circumstances, our hosts were such lovely people, I just couldn’t say no! you know what I’m talking about right? I’m back on the lent wagon! So you can stop shaking your head now…
It was an amazing experience! I would love to do it again soon, now that I know how and where. It is the Chinese version of a Koroga… I’ll be writing a post on that soon, promise!
This restaurant is great for big groups, or even a first date, they have small bandas in the garden which is romantic in the evening.
Check it out, next time you are in the Hurlingham area.