#SusanEats: Malaysian good eats debut in Nairobi at The Abor

laksa noodles in the arbor susan wong nairobi kenya

I love sitting and catching-up with friends among plants and good food. Heartfelt menus, artisanal creations and nature-inspired décor provide the perfect break for the city-weary amongst us and creates the ideal weekend hangout.

The latest entry into Nairobi’s quirky culinary offering is The Arbor, which is a charming curated destination of food, home décor, organic Kenyan-made beauty products, handcrafted jewelry and fashion.

I first heard about this intimate café and restaurant from a friend who wouldn’t stop telling me about it, but after a recent visit to the Kidawa Festival (watch us explore it on Our2Cents here), where they sold a selection of fresh breads and homemade chili sauce – I was convinced a visit was a must.

Conveniently located at 904 James Gichuru Road in Nairobi’s leafy Lavington neighbourhood, its hand-painted sign tucked out of sight when closed, a quaint family villa and its garden has been transformed into a charming establishment with warm service and a small menu featuring all your favourites from Eggs Benedict, to pasta, wraps, sandwiches, and even burgers. For those looking for a departure from the obvious café menu options, The Arbor also offers delicious Malaysian staples such as Laksa Noodles and Nasi Pattaya, paying homage to the founder’s heritage.

Perfect for warmer days; sit out on the terrace overlooking a small plant nursery where you can buy pots of herbs and even carrots from their Veggie Patch for your home garden. Indulge in a momentary escape as you sit in a swinging garden sofa. Dine under the large protective branches of large, mature trees. Only a couple of months young, The Arbor is poised to be one of Nairobi’s most delicious and relaxing destinations.

What is Laksa?

Malaysian cuisine reflects its many cultural influences focused on a mix of flavours, ingredients and cooking techniques derived mainly from India, Thailand and China. Arguably the most popular culinary export, Laksa, is a spicy noodle soup with more than 30 different varieties.

The secret to any delicious Laksa is its flavourful paste of dried and fresh chili, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, diced onions, fresh turmeric, and a mixture of Asian herbs and spices – cooked thoroughly in oil to release the fragrances of the ingredients. Depending on the variety, The Arbor finishes their Laksa with creamy coconut milk and stock, and finally pours it over noodles and garnishes with prawns, julienne vegetables and egg.

What is Nasi Pattaya?

Usually cooked in a smoking-hot wok, rice is fried with vegetables, shallots, garlic and fish sauce. The Fried Rice is put aside. Beaten egg is swirled in the wok until it forms a thin round omelet. The rice is then placed on top and wrapped by the omelet into a pouch.

When you cut into the omelet pouch, steam traced with aromas from the fragrant fried rice is released. Quite the experience. If you like eggs and fried rice – this is a no brainer!