Ever since I first met chef Anton Gasnier last year when he was just starting out at the helm of Soko Restaurant’s kitchen, I have come to look forward to his meals. Trained in France, he worked at The Ritz Hotel in London followed by various Four Seasons establishments across the world before moving to Soko whose name is Swahili for market, which would explain why the menu consistently incorporates the fresh local ingredients of the season.
I always look forward to the chef’s fun and playful ways of preparing and presenting the food such that it pleasantly surprises you. This perhaps gives insight into his cooking techniques as well. The most popular item off their menu and a personal favourite has got to be the pork spare ribs which gets to your table so tender you would be forgiven for thinking it was chocolate. No wonder, seeing as it is cooked in a sous-vide machine in which individual portions of meat are roasted at about 60 degrees for 24 hours, allowing the flavours to slowly infuse. The accompanying salad has, among other ingredients, carrots, fried shallots and bean sprouts, but its strength is definitely in the subtle lemon and pineapple dressing. I bet they could have this salad as a separate menu item and patrons would order it in droves.
There was a flurry of activity at the Thai-owned DusitD2 Hotel upon which Soko is nestled because not only was it lunch time, there was also a World Class Kenya mixology competition going on at The Zing Bar. There really is nothing quite like the perfect balance of class, elegance and style, which Soko’s ambience is teeming with, to accompany the perfectly gooey, creamy and salty goats cheese crostini we had as a starter. That, or the fried brie with macadamia crumbs, a semi-dried raspberry salad tossed with a light vanilla vinaigrette which we were soon tucking into shortly after.
Soko also offers a variety of fresh and healthy dishes for vegetarians to choose from. We tried the soba noodles with ginseng soy broth and vegetables. Soba noodles, as you may know, are a popular and inexpensive healthy fast food served hot or cold at railway stations in Japan, particularly Tokyo. It was sweet with a subtle hint of sesame and rice vinegar which gave it balance. To accompany this was fried tofu marinated in miso paste- and I hated it, but only because tofu is a taste I am yet to acquire. It is however a great source of protein that’s popular with Soko’s vegetarian patrons.
When you pop into this restaurant for lunch, you’ll be tempted to just relax and eat the rest of your afternoon away. More so given that there’s also a lunch buffet with an impressive selection of salads, soups, cheeses, desserts and other hot dishes. When it comes to dessert, however, be sure to try the pistachio brulee. You will want to take it to vegas and marry it.
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