I love to eat out in restaurants. Something about the surprise of what the plate will look like, being served while I sit and the fact that there will be no dish-washing to do. Even conversations with people you know seem to improve and laughter deepens over a good meal. The fact that you’re not at home is the icing on the cake. And here I’m not talking about the quick dash to the deli. Instead, I’m referring to the slow, relaxed atmosphere of a restaurant that has cloth napkins.
I always have a list of restaurants that I plan to visit in the future, when I will win the lottery or inherit a fortune. Last month, I fell into luck. No, I didn’t stumble upon some large sum of money. Not yet. It happened like this. A friend visited Kenya from overseas and I took the time to show her my beautiful city of Nairobi. As a token of her gratitude, she offered to buy dinner before her late night flight. I protested. A little. She insisted. I accepted. A restaurant of my choice, said she. Thai Chi at The Stanley Hotel, I replied without missing a beat. It is at the top of my list.
I will admit this. I had the restaurant on my list for over 2 years. My profession has seen bad times in recent years. You can ask other lottery players. I was, therefore, quite excited.
Now, I’m quite familiar with foods from different cultures – Kenyan, Indian, Italian, Chinese. I wasn’t conversant with Thai cuisine. All the same, I knew that Thai ingredients such as ginger, tamarind, coconut and seafood are all good for me. My friend was right when she said: Very few similarities with Chinese cuisine and definitely more refined.
We had two simple starters with exquisite sauces. Then we had two dishes, ginger, tamarind grilled fish and coconut chicken. Rice and vegetables as side dishes. Delicious is a word that does not even begin to describe the experience. The food is tears-in-your-eyes tasty. So tasty that you get wet. In your eyes. The experience was so memorable that as I write this, I’m watering again. This time in my mouth.
I’ll tell you exactly what was so good in that meal. The restaurant setting is glorious. You have a choice between a normal raised restaurant table and chairs. Or you could opt for a short table that enables you to sit on the floor/cushion in Thai style. You could also choose between European cutlery or Thai chopsticks. The people at the door and the wait staff are courteous and they know the menu. It is a menu with enough choice to keep you curious for months. Considering that someone had a flight to catch, I can say that the service was very fast. Food came in few minutes. But the one thing that converted me into a true believer was the serving size. We both ate the fish and the chicken and we both had enough.
But I will warn you. The restaurant is also memorable for the deep, dark hole it leaves in your pocket. It is pricey. Even without wine and dessert, we had a huge bill, partly because side dishes such as vegetables and rice are priced separately, as in most Asian style eateries. I wasn’t paying but my curious eye caught a glimpse of the Ksh 9’000 bill. Roughly equivalent to half my rent.
If you have the money and an occasion to celebrate, I would still recommend Thai Chi at The Stanley. An when I fall upon some luck this year, I promise I will be back.