When it comes to dining, the experience is just as important as the flavour of the meals. One place that totally understands this and has managed to perfectly balance the two is Pan Asian Yao over in Gigiri right opposite the United Nations complex (previously known as Emerald Garden).
This new dining experience boasts two new options for diners – the first being the Bento trays and secondly, the Hot Pot menu. A bento tray, or bento box as it’s more commonly referred to, is a Japanese way of having your meals packed into sections for either takeaway or in-house dining. At Pan-Asian Yao, they’ve put a twist on this and served the meals on a tray that displays all the various flavours and colours for all.
Each tray has its own theme inspired by various culinary destinations around Asia from Malaysia, China, Indonesia to India. The vegetarian tray goes for Sh800 while the non-vegetarian is priced at Sh1, 000 with each tray consisting of a soup, a salad, a main course along with some rice or noodles. Some of the items available include delicate yet crispy Chinese wontons, a savoury laksa soup that’s always a crowd favourite from the Malaysian tray, succulent chicken wings on the Indian bento tray and a hearty Indonesian Nasi Goreng rice and spicy chicken skewer combo. All the flavours have been carefully thought out by their Executive Chef Rahul Rana to ensure that they blend seamlessly with the other items on the tray. It makes for the perfect lunch stop over.
The main event of the afternoon was definitely their Hot Pot meals. The restaurant tables have built in induction cookers, one for each person at the table. You begin by ordering your flavor of broth. Chilli lovers would enjoy the Szechuan broth. A milder option would be the Beijing broth, all vegetarian and vegans can try they Tonyu Nabe broth and lastly a personal favourite is the Tom Yum broth which is a little bit spicy but also has a tangy kick from the lemongrass infused in it.
Next comes the various sauces and accompaniments for you to pick from – and boy is the selection massive. From red meats to chicken, fish, crab, mushrooms, noodles, prawns – I could really go on for a while. One item that I would definitely recommend is the fried lotus stem – a crunchy yet somewhat sweet part of the lotus flower which soaks up the flavour of the broth and beautifully melts in your mouth. The wonderful thing about this method of cooking is not only how immersive it is but also how quick it can be – the prawns were cooked in a matter of seconds! The Hot Pot menu prices range from Sh1,200 to Sh2,000 and is definitely one for a large group of friends who aren’t afraid of flavour and want to experience a new form of dining in Nairobi.
If you still have space in your stomach at the end of this meal, you should definitely try out their wasabi ice-cream or for those feeling less adventurous they have a deliciously creamy oreo flavour ice-cream that you’re sure to love.
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