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Saturday, 25 July 2020

EATING AND OUTING: Japanese cuisine for beginners

food

Coming off a 24-hour anime binge, I found ChiQ on Uber Eats while looking for Japanese food that wasn’t sushi. Located in the New Muthaiga Shopping Mall off Thigiri Rd, ChiQ Japanese Restaurant is a casual dining establishment that caters to individual and group outings and is children friendly (Japanese restaurants -at least outside of Japan or Asia - are rarely seen as children/family-friendly).

Having just seen it in episodes of the anime I was watching, I order the Tonkatsu – breaded, deep-fried/tempura pork cutlet, Pork-fried Noodles and Okonomiyaki – a savory Japanese flour-based pancake.

The smell wafting from the tonkatsu is enough to get my taste-buds going. Too bad the texture is a bit of a letdown. The batter does not have the crispiness of tempura but that could be because of the condensation of the container and sauce it is sitting in. The flavour, however, does not disappoint. The pork is tender and juicy. The tonkatsu comes with salad and a side of short-grain rice that leaves you satiated for a long time. This is a wonderful dish for children.

The Okonomiyaki has a strong but not altogether offensive smell of the sea/ocean. The scent comes from bonito flakes which are dried, fermented and smoked Skipjack Tuna. It also has eggs, cabbage, and pork (though not a lot of pork). It tastes sweet, which is a nice surprise, and not as fishy as I had been expecting. The crunch from the cabbage adds texture that prevents the dish from becoming stodgy. This is a dish for the more adventurous eater. It doesn’t look like any pancake you are familiar with, and upon first sight, the bonito flakes on top of the Okonomiyaki appear to squirm or dance which can be intimidating if not alarming for the timid eater.

The pork fried noodles are as good as I expected. The flavour is deep but not overpowering with a rather decent portion size.

 I would recommend ChiQ Japanese Restaurant for two main reasons: the first is the inviting menu with vibrant colours and dishes that are both familiar and uniquely Japanese. It is almost as though the menu was chosen to be an introductory course to Japanese cuisine for cautious and adventurous eaters alike. It’s a harmonious co-existence of quintessential Japanese food like sushi and okonomiyaki on one end of the spectrum and chips and chicken on the other. In between are dishes that could be described as Japanese versions of western cuisine. The second attractive point is that the menu is budget friendly, with an average of Sh500 for a dish. If you are venturing into a new cuisine, you don’t really want to spend a lot of money on something you could potentially not like.

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