#SusanEats Review: SOI, Nairobi’s new Thai hotspot

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PHOTO: Courtesy Susan Wong

There’s a new hotel in town, and luckily for the food lovers in Nairobi, it comes with a modern Thai food concept, which preserves tradition, incorporates a modern touch and maximizes the seasonality of ingredients.

This Thai bistro, SOI, calls the chic new boutique hotel dusitD2 Nairobi home. Located across from the entrance to the hotel, don’t let the humble signboard and oversized wooden door deter you. For the entire dining experience, with a Thai restaurant manager by your side, will leave you savouring for more affordable authentic Thai dishes in Nairobi again in no time.

It’s all about sincerity here at SOI. The fancy cutlery and furnishings balance class, contemporary stylings, urban intrigue and functionality perfectly. What dusitD2 wanted to bring to Nairobi was a flagship restaurant that offered great hospitality and of course, authentic Thai cuisine to match.

The contemporary homely ambiance is what SOI is all about; fuss-free and no pretense – a place where one can indulge in the exotic and refreshing flavours of Thailand, undistracted. A wall of bottled spirit serves as a lovely art installation and background to a pair of lotus-shaped loungers. A long communal bar table seats people in close proximity and ensures friendships are forged and conversations buzz throughout the evening. Another functional art installation, arranged durable climbing rope, serves as a room separator behind a row of banquettes, which separate the airy dining space in half. Earthy wooden details ground the space throughout and bold accent colours add a distinct trendy and urban vibe.

A beautiful arrangement of grilled beef salad with cabbage, onion and cucumber served with semi-dried tomato and herbs arrive to the table – an appetite-whetting beginning tickled with lime and chilli. The salad revealed wonderful crispy textures that only the freshest of ingredients would have.  A collection of SOI starters including vegetable spring rolls, prawn wontons with wafer-thin wrappers, chicken and beef satay and papaya salad delighted my companions and I with expected balanced flavours of sweet, sour and savoury. My favourite were the deep-fried Tiger prawns with honey dew melon and a dusting of crispy onions. The flesh of the prawns perfectly cooked – delicate and firm – and the mellow sweetness of the melon complimented the subtle saltiness and accentuated the lovely natural sweetness of fresh seafood.

Bear in mind Thai cuisine amateurs, if you’re not a big fan of spicy food, Thai food can sometimes be quite potent in terms of its hotness. Don’t be afraid to let one of the wait staff know in advance your preferred level. And for fans of everything Thai, you will surely enjoy the classic Tom Kha with mushrooms and butter chicken with coconut cream imported from Thailand. Do not underestimate this innocent and minimalist-looking broth, for it packs many layers of flavour, succulent cubes of chicken and a level of hotness that can be quite overpowering to some after a few sips. But that’s the beauty of great Thai food, despite the chasing heat that renders some palettes feeling uncomfortably excited; you will still find yourself ordering another portion.

For the hearty meat lovers, the pork and chili with sweet basil and long aubergine is perfect with an accompaniment of fragrant steamed jasmine rice. An attention-grabbing halved pineapple serves as a suitable bowl for the wok-fried rice with pineapple and cashew nuts – an aromatic option for vegetarians and fried-rice diehards. To finish, crispy banana fritters dipped in a velvety rich chocolate sauce was a novel and moreish conclusion to a feast, which to me, ended too soon.

There’s no two ways about it: SOI offers Thai comfort food at its best in Nairobi. No complaints at all, just pure enjoyment from beginning to end. Seriously, I felt at home at SOI and I’m sure you will too.

 FOODBLOG

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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.

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