Business lunches are aptly named for the wheeling and dealing that goes on, and there is nothing better than a hearty soup to oil the salubrious all round handshakes. A hearty soup is an ideal substitute when the menus don’t speak to you and you don’t want to speak to them. Soups are a fuss free, healthy option and unlike other mains they don’t get in the way of sealing hostile take-overs.
The Far East has for centuries celebrated soups as a main dish perfecting countless recipes and flavours and exporting these delights to a global market. Many soups are eaten and drunk as much for their flavours as for their health benefits and are renowned for their revitalizing and invigorating effects. The balancing of ingredients and harmonies of colours, tastes and textures that are principles of Asian cuisine are evident in their soups. Different regions have their own takes and here in Nairobi there are plenty of restaurants to give us that first-hand account of the far-east’s diverse culinary mastery of soup.
The Tokyo restaurant in Karen with over ten years experience serves delectable soups with the Tempura Udon soup proving to be standout hit. A light dashi stock with udon noodles accompanied by tempura fried prawns is guaranteed to excite the palate. The celebrated miso soup is also wonderfully versatile, and can be made with seasonal vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, meat or seafood. Miso soup can be as light or heavy as you are in the mood for. Furasato in Westlands offers a fusion of Japanese/Korean dishes, with Korean lunch special Bi-bim-bap – mixed Vegetable & beef with chilli sauce in hot stone bowl.
Tantamount to Chinese soups is the hot and sour. A number of ingredients such as shredded pork and dried Chinese mushrooms (in northern China it is traditionally made with fresh chicken’s blood) are simmered together to form a thick broth, perfect for those dreary Nairobi afternoons. The Bamboo Restaurant at Zen Garden’s does an excellent hot and sour as well as a chicken noodle soup.
The chic Thai Chi restaurant at the Sarova Stanley specialises in Thai cuisine with an impressive array of soup. The most famous of Thai soups are the flavours of Tom Yum which is characterized by distinct hot and sour flavours, using aromatic herbs liberally. This basic broth is made of stock and fresh ingredients such as lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce and crushed chili peppers. Aside from its enthralling flavours, this soup has beneficial health qualities, boosting your immune system as well as your mood. There are different varieties of tom yum, like Tom Yum Goong which is made with prawns as the main ingredient. The Muhibbah Restaurant at Sankara has a different take on Thai soups infusing them with new exciting ingredients as well as staying true to the original concept. Their Tom Kha Jen is a savoury vegetable and coconut soup which quickens metabolism and is a powerhouse against colds and flu.
Far East Asian soups are wonderfully flavoured as well as being extremely healthy and nourishing. Perfect for lunches or a light dinner they can revolutionise the way you lunch and with the vast selection to choose from they will continually excite and inspire. These soups will generally cost between Ksh 650-700, so go ahead and soup-up your day.