Tucked away in the serene Nairobi’s Lavington , is the new Chekafe a Japanese restaurant and subsidiary of the Cheka Izakaya Japanese Restaurant. Chiming bells, kangas, soft Japanese tunes welcomed us to the bright and airy restaurant with a terrace seating.
They also have a shop with African and Japanese items for sale such as Japanese herbs, Kenyan herbs, kangas and baskets and decorative curios.
Chekafe has been open for six months now and they have a different menu from the other branch. They serve hand-made noodles, dumplings, vegetable ramen, vegetable tempura, grilled rice balls and other sweet treats including green tea tiramisu and Japanese cheesecake.
The soft Japanese music blended perfectly with the chime bells which danced in the wind creating a soothing melody that encouraged one to linger. The casual set up features an outside seating area where tables are covered with parasols. The terrace has an open kitchen.
A chilled ginger ale which tasted almost like the dawa cooled us off as we waited for our lunch. Our three-course meal started with six pieces of gyoza dumplings filled with pork, chive, ginger and cabbage and cream cheese and smoked salmon served with crackers.
The dumplings were a delightful starter; a bite into the round snacks revealed a burst of flavour and a little soy sauce dip made the treats savoury. The salmon was fresh and creamy and it married perfectly with cream cheese.
For the main course, we indulged in the cheka ramen with braised pork, soft boiled egg and soy sauce and the same cheka ramen without soy sauce.
Armed with a wooden soup spoon and chopsticks, I scooped up a mixture of handmade noodles, pork and thick soup. This was a hearty meal served in generous portions that we couldn’t manage to finish. I enjoyed the ramen with the soy sauce more as it had more zest and flavour because of the soy sauce.
To prepare the soup, the chicken is boiled together with vegetables for half a day for all the flavours to infuse. Some of the vegetables used include spring onions, soy sauce, mirin (a type of Japanese rice wine) among others, resulting in a flavour-packed dish.
Dessert was an interesting experience as it was my first time to have Japanese desserts. We had the green tea tiramisu and the Japanese style cheese cake. The green tea tiramisu was a decadent treat. The matcha flavours infused into the mascarpone cream. I loved that it was not too sweet.
The cheesecake was fluffy and airy, unlike others which are usually dense. It was a creamy dessert, not too sugary and it brought our delightful culinary trip to a delectable end.