The Star (Nairobi)

3 January 2013

Kenya: Nanchang Chinese Restaurant Review

I've always been partial to kungpao chicken - its amazing how good cashew nuts fried in pepper tastes when mixed up in a chicken dish. So great is my affinity for this meal that I consider it a staple when at a Chinese restaurant.

As such it was definitely one of the dishes I ordered at Nanchang Hotel located in Westlands along Westlands Road. This we ordered along with fried beef, sweet and sour pork, white rice and vegetable soup.

Of the entire meal, the sweet and sour pork stood out. Honey glazed and coated with with a thick sauce, it was finger-licking good. I couldn't get enough of it and it tasted even better when dipped in the Chinese chilli sauce provided as a condiment. Incidentally, the chilli sauce is not the type of sauce that burns but rather a sweet and sour variety that tastes even more delicious with a dash of Tabasco sauce. Therefore, at Sh 1200 a plate, I most definitely recommend this meal to anyone who likes a good pork dish.

However, loathe as I am to admit it, everything else after the pork was a tad underwhelming - the fried beef was tender and tasty enough but the kungpao tasted like it could have been left to cook more in its spices. The sweet and sour pork spoiled my palate. Word of advice: Save the pork for last if ordering it with other dishes. It's that good!

Before the meal, the servers brought us some Chinese herbal tea which is apparently good for cleansing the body's system. Neither sweet nor sour, the tea had the earthy taste and smell of a very dilute neem tea - I enjoyed it.

Nanchang Hotel is slightly over a month old in its operations and boasts several hotel rooms, a spa, and private dining rooms beautifully furnished in brilliant reds and yellows. These private dining rooms also come complete with karaoke machines - I've learned through experience that a Chinese restaurant is not quite complete without a karaoke machine.

The menu at Nanchang is quite the interesting read; the food photography is colourful and appetite inducing but what is more interesting are some of the shockingly exotic-sounding meals like 'Bull Penis', 'Braised Goose Feet', 'Pork Stomach Shredded' and 'Garlic Gut'. Chicken Feet is apparently quite the delicacy in China and the management at Nanchang explained that is often served to special guests on special occasions

On the other hand, the vegetable soup had what looked like baby corn and bits of carrot and spinach in it. It was quite delicious and tasted rather wholesome and versatile; like something you would eat when you have a cold, or to ward of the cold or when in the mood for a light meal.

I suppose you are better off ordering fried rice at Nanchang as opposed to the the white rice which tastes quite plain unless you're into that sort of 'wholesome' eating. Also the serving time could have been shorter, but the sweet and sour pork more than made up for this. The terrace seating is rather nice on a sunny day, quite preferable to the indoor seating arrangement.

Rating 4/5

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