A taste of Japan in Nairobi

If you’ve ever been to Nairobi one thing you may have noticed is there is no shortage of Japanese restaurants, they are not everywhere but they are there.  Some are good some are not,  the one at the Junction mall (if it’s still there), upstairs near the casino, was really good the last time I was there for more than an overnight stay,  but that was more than a year ago. This post however will be about Haro, and before you ask I have no idea where it is other than in Karen.

I just got back from a short 3 day visit to Nairobi to help the USA ID Africa Lead II project get their It systems started up. Now their current office is, well let’s just say there is not much around as far as food but there is a Japanese restaurant (Haro) conveniently located just off the building lobby and this is where I ate my lunch 2 out of 3 days (I had pizza on the first day).

Each day my lunch was preceded by what I have come to call the typical Japanese salad, even though I never saw it once on my visit to Japan.  The salad is usually a basic mix of some sort of greens,  cucumber,  carrot, and tomato with announce and ginger dressing.

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My first lunch at Haro consisted of yakisoba which consists of fried udon noodles (should have been soba noodles),  but that’s ok) with chicken and a few vegetables cooked in soy sauce.  The dish was good but nowhere near earth moving and I think the chicken was a little over done and dry. The Japanese flavors were all there but they were somewhat subdued.

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My second day there I decided to try a little sushi and ordered the tuna. When it came out I could tell, right away, that it was not fresh from its kind of faded red not quite pink color. My first bite confirmed this as most of the tuna flavor was sadly missing. On the good side it did not make me sick so it was more than likely frozen as opposed to old.

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For my main meal I decided to have the pork teriyaki made with pork loin, though I think pork belly would have been a much better choice. As I was waiting for my lunch the smells coming from the kitchen were fantastic and mad me think I was sitting on a street corner in Tokyo, when the good came it seemed all the flavor had gone out into the smells because once again everything tasted subdued. In addition to the lack of flavor the pork was very dry and tough,  definitely over cooked. The dishes only saving grace was the vegetables which had been wok fried to crisp perfection, even though I am sure they were frozen.

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Now the question before us is “Will I return?”  And yes if I find myself in Nairobi working at this office I will return, but it is pretty much the only choice. Thankfully by the time I do return the LEAD project will have moved to a new office with more choices around it so no I will not return.

-erik

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