Move over Japanese food; with its penchant for spice and love of deliciously tangy fermented vegetables, Korean cuisine is fast becoming a darling on the international food circuit. The capital of Kenya has long been host to a sizeable Korean population and over the last couple of decades they have launched some of the top Japanese restaurants our city has to offer. Now, however, the tide seems to be turning: one by one Korean restaurateurs are embracing their own culinary traditions and opening up restaurants, barbecues and food court eateries across the city. Soon you will have absolutely no excuse to not know what kimchi is!
And so you have it, the essential list of Korean eateries in Nairobi:
Sharing a kitchen with the well established Sushi Soo restaurant on Kingara road in Lavington, Goong adds a Korean flair to foods we normally associate more with the Japanese tradition. Indulge in some delicious and extremely filling Bulgogi rolls and Korean rice pancakes, before diving in to a classic Korean barbecue feast. Best visited in the day time, so that you can sit in the garden and enjoy the sun and tranquility over a cold beer.
2. AIN Guesthouse
One of Nairobi’s best kept East Asian secrets, the amazing thing about this hidden-away Hurlingham restaurant is the seemingly endless array of pickles, fermented vegetables and other weird and wonderful side dishes that are plied on customers upon ordering one of their handful of classic Korean BBQ options. This is one place that once you’ve been the first time you will be unable to resist coming back for more.
For reservations call Samson Kim 0722 732722
3. Dae Jang Geum
Although humble in appearance, this restaurant is the pinnacle of genuinely exceptional Korean dishes. Hosting a beautiful outdoor area, it has remarkable service and absolutely divine food. Their loaded noodle bowls or crunchy rice bibimbaps will keep you going for hours; this is one place that is best visited with friends to enjoy and extensive selection of barbecued meats cooked at your own table.
For reservations call +254 707 369355
4. Koreana Chicken
Maybe it’s their sweet and spicy combos or the idea that fried chicken with honey and garlic is actually a thing, but there is something about delightfully crunchy Korean fried chicken that just makes it stand far above so many other national interpretations of this crowd-pleasing dish. If you are ever and Garden City for a movie, make sure you swing by here first to quell any appetite that might distract you from the film!
5. EAST Seoul Street Food
This recently opened Korean joint in the Village Market main food court hosts an array of known and lesser known dishes inspired by the stalls of Seoul’s busy streets. Their bulgogi and chicken kalbi sandwiches are an ideal way for a newbie to tip their toes into an authentic Korean food experience, while their noodles and rice plates are best eaten on an overcast day when a sandwich for lunch just won’t do the trick.
Not quite what you expect at the mention of a Korean restaurant, the truth is that the Korean owners of Furusato had already started serving Japanese dishes with a Korean twist long before the rest of Nairobi got in on the Korean food bonanza. Bored of eating the usual tuna sushi roll? Well then try their soyuae raw tuna with avocado bowl, or tingle your tastebuds with their fiery spicy octopus kimchi.