The Chinese cuisine experience in Nairobi

sauteed pork with rice crust. Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

Experience the authentic flavours of the UNESCO City of Gastronomy of Chengdu 

One of my favourite YouTube channels is by Chinese content creator Liziqi. Her idyllic videos on life in rural China showcase the rich cultural heritage of the over 5,000-year-old civilization, featuring breathtaking views and mouth-watering Sichuan recipes.

So, I was delighted when I discovered Chengdu Impressions, a Chinese restaurant located on Riverside Lane, that offers classic and contemporary Sichuan dishes. The restaurant is a spacious converted home with traditional impressions, here and there, of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in the signage, the furniture, and the menu. And although Riverside is developing rapidly, the ambiance of the restaurant is quite serene. Especially outside surrounded by tall, lush greenery that mutes the construction noises that are part and parcel of Riverside Drive. 

Sichuan cuisine is one of the eight major cuisines of China and is the birthplace of many world-renowned dishes like Mapo Tofu, Kung Pao Chicken, and the customer favorite Sichuan Hot Pot. Not a fan of cooking my food at a restaurant, I ordered the Sauteed Pork Slice with Rice Crust. 

Mostly known for hot and spicy flavors, the hallmarks of Sichuan cuisine are the Sichuan pepper, chilies, garlic, and soybean paste which give it a distinct complex flavour. However, there are dishes with milder flavours. 

Chengdu Impressions, a Chinese restaurant located on Riverside Lane, offers classic and contemporary Sichuan dishes. Photo | Pool

The Sauteed Pork Slice with Rice Crust is one of those. Its flavours are clean and natural. No msg. Separately each ingredient has a distinct flavor yet when taken together blends harmoniously. The rice crust remains crispy despite soaking in the piping hot broth and adds a wonderful texture to the meal. If your taste buds crave something bolder, there’s a self-service condiment station where you can customise your own Sichuan flavour profile. 

The portions are extremely generous. They aren’t stingy with the pork or hide it behind the vegetables. I am a fairly big eater and even past my bursting point, I still had about a third of the meal left. 

It wouldn’t be a proper Chinese restaurant outing without tea. Tea houses are everywhere in Chengdu. The city’s tea culture dates back to the historic Silk Road era. Chengdu Impressions brings that tea culture to Nairobi, offering a variety of teas including Oolong, Jasmine, Chrysanthemum, and Pu’er teas. 

Chengdu Impressions, a Chinese restaurant located on Riverside Lane, offers classic and contemporary Sichuan dishes. Photo | Pool

I ordered the Eight Treasure Tea or Ba Bao Cha in Chinese. It is considered to have medicinal properties, stimulating blood production and circulation. The eight treasures refer to the main dried ingredients – rock sugar, chrysanthemum flowers, green tea, longan raisin, jujube, ginseng root, goji berries, and citrus peel. The result is a mildly aromatic, sweet tea that is visually beautiful.

The service is pretty fast. I estimate ten to fifteen minutes from the time I ordered to the time I was served. 

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