Do you ever get a kind of savoury paranoia when you dine at restaurants with huge menus; ones that make you wish you had an endless appetite? That exact paranoia strikes me most commonly in Indo-Chinese restaurants. Overwhelmed with the fear that the menu will try too hard to be authentic Chinese and double as hard to be all-things Indian, and a greater fear that I will fail in ordering the best from the restaurant, in this case Shangrila Restaurant, because there’s simply too many delicious choices.
As it often happens, I ate brilliantly at Shangrila, a hidden gem in Diamond Plaza in the busy Nairobi neighbourhood of Parklands, beyond the confusing hallways and small stalls, upstairs, in its own serene corner.
A blend of Chinese and Indian, the décor of Shangrila featured traditional Chinese characters on the ceiling and wooden carvings accented the open space throughout, seamlessly combining the two cultures into the mystical and harmonious place that Shangrila is known to be, as described in James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon.
Obviously overwhelmed by choice, our friendly waitress, Yvonne, suggested we try the house specialty, Shangrila Threaded Prawns (Ksh 900), which arrived steaming hot from the deep-fat fryer. Minced prawn meat, formed into kebab-like shapes, remained juicy under crispy dunes of julienned pastry, which could’ve been mistaken for crunchy noodles. Happily, the coatings tasted nothing like fried noodles, instead, together with the prawns, its flavours and textures were compelling and deliciously shameless.
There was the Lamb Sizzler (Ksh 850), which arrived sizzling loudly and spitting sauce everywhere until the hot plate cooled down – as it should be. Quick tip: perhaps those wearing white or silk tops should use their napkins as a shield. Blanketed with a savoury sauce, bubbling over the juicy lamb, the Lamb Sizzler was also one of our favourites, especially since the lamb was so tender that every morsel of meat nearly melted away in our mouths.
Paired with Vegetable Fried Rice (Ksh 450) and one of the richest Butter Chicken I have ever sampled in Kenya, my raging hunger was no match for what Shangrila’s menu had to offer.
But still, I didn’t eat enough. Not by a long way. There was still the Shangrila Kebab (Ksh 820), where they’ve combined mutton and prawn mince, rolled together by thin pieces of juicy chicken breast. And the Shangrila Special Tawa-e-Murg (Ksh 820). And the hundred or so more dishes on the menu. And… oh, you get the idea. The menu at Shangrila Restaurant remains as unexplored as the Earthy paradise it’s named for. Guess I’ll just have to go on an expedition.
Photos continued on next page…