#SusanEats: Tokyo Karen

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Tokyo Karen restaurant in Nairiobi, Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2011

Capital Lifestyle’s latest trip was to Tokyo Karen, which saw the team enjoy incredibly fresh sashimi unparalleled to other sushi establishments in Nairobi.

After selling off its successful location in Westlands, Mr. Shin and his team has put all of their focus on Tokyo Karen, now more than two years old.

A warm and traditional Japanese-themed interior with a lot of natural wood including weathered hardwood flooring welcome guests to sit at the sushi bar, Teppanyaki stations or out in the modest garden. All the doorways are tastefully divided by traditional handmade Japanese fabric called Noren, which adds a decorative touch that sets the mood of the guests for a traditional Japanese dining experience.

Tokyo Karen restaurant in Nairiobi, Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2011

Aside from the traditional starter, Japanese salad with a tangy pureed dressing, Capital Lifestyle also chose to try Tokyo Karen’s Miso Soup and Gyoza.

The steaming hot Miso Soup served with a few small cubes of fresh tofu and garnished with green onions had the perfect amount of Miso in it. Miso, a type of fermented bean paste, commonly used in Japanese cuisine is an excellent source of amino acids and protein. There are many types of Miso including salty, fishy and nutty; and in this case the soup was very balanced and appetizing.

Tokyo Karen restaurant in Nairiobi, Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2011

As the Gyoza arrived, one could not help but appreciate the simple plating of the four pork and vegetable dumplings pan-fried to a delicious brown – it looked amazing. Accompanied by a soy sauce and vinegar dipping sauce, the filling of finely diced cabbage and minced pork tasted light and flavourful.

Tokyo Karen restaurant in Nairiobi, Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2011

Tapping into the Korean roots of the proprietors of Tokyo Karen, no meal would be complete without the Korean classic dish, Japchae. This popular dish is basically stir-fried sweet potato noodles with vegetables laced with aromatic sesame oil. In Tokyo’s version, the chef used Shitake mushrooms, which added layers of richness and smokiness. Delicious and wonderfully chewy, as it should be, the noodles were great but overall, a bit under seasoned and called for an extra dash of soy sauce.

Tokyo Karen restaurant in Nairiobi, Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2011

Accompanying our assortment platter of sashimi and sushi, Capital Lifestyle also chose another special, Tuna Soyuae, Tuna and Avocado salad with Sesame Soy Dressing. Fresh cubes of avocado and tuna – what more can you ask for?

The Spicy Crunchy Salmon Roll was unfortunately a disappointment as the roll wasn’t “crunchy” like the name had suggested. The tempura bits probably had been sitting in the special spicy sauce for a few seconds too long.

The absolute highlight of our visit to Tokyo Karen was the sashimi! There’s nothing more annoying than being served sashimi, raw fish, which has been refrigerated until stiff or eating slices of fish that have been butchered into thick slabs. And, unfortunately there are more of those self-professed Japanese restaurants in Nairobi than those that actually know how to get it right.

Tokyo Karen restaurant in Nairiobi, Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2011

The Toro, tuna belly, was a special treat! Carved from the fattiest part of the fish, Toro, is the most prized cut from a blue fin tuna. Tuna belly is more pink and opaque than other areas of the fish, and if it’s the right grade, as this one was, the piece of sashimi will melt in your mouth like butter without the lingering flavours of fattiness.


Book online at Eat Out Kenya and save now! Check it out now! http://www.eatout.co.ke/Tokyo-Karen-p/tokyojapanese.htm

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SUSAN WONG

Susan Wong is the Editor of Capital Lifestyle, a resident photographer, an award-winning journalist, radio presenter, full-time adventurer, long-time admirer of anything edible, and a spicy food athlete at Capital FM.

  • A review as colorful as this will only get me visiting the restaurant! Sounds like yall had a delightful experience there. 

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