Talisman is your best bet when it comes to restaurants to visit over ” Nairobi Restaurant Week”. My past experiences of this event can only be described as “premium mediocre”, a term coined by Venkatesh Rao (read the article). I interpret Premium mediocre as things that are a level below fancy but are pretentiously packaged as fancy. Many restaurants in the city I believe, are culprits in dishing up premium mediocre. So when it came to perusing menus of the participating restaurants, I was not about to repeat my past mistakes and fall under the trap of premium mediocrity. With this in mind, I decided to come up with a criteria I would use in selecting restaurants based on their menus, and its as follows:
- I would spend the least amount of money possible so if the meal sucked the blow wouldn’t be too bad, but mostly because this is all I could afford. My budget was 1,500 which is the price range within which most restaurant meals fall
- I would avoid menus with pretentious descriptions that raised my expectations. Descriptions such as “medallion of fillet steak served with au jus, rosemary scented vegetables and truffle infused mashed potatoes” are so unnecessary when what you get is one carrot, two peas, a dollop of runny mash, a shrivelled piece of meat and gravy. A lot of the times these “scents” and “infusions” are hardly noticeable and you end up disappointed because the descriptions really hyped you for something extraordinary
- No salads or soups for starters – for the amount of money I was paying, picking a salad or soup would have been a rip off!
- I want to be spoilt for choice – I want to be conflicted when making a decision because everything sounds so good rather than me settling on one item because nothing else appeals to me
With these considerations I and two others confidently decided on Talisman not only because of the menu, but also because my previous visits to the restaurant were pretty good. The menu had me excited because there was a good variety of innovative dishes that you will not find elsewhere, and most of the dishes sounded delicious. To be honest, the thing that sold me most about the menu was the sushi because good sushi in this town aint cheap, and the fact that I could have sushi and a main course for 1,500 – was a deal I could not resist.
The food was really really good. The portion sizes were huge – after eating the sushi I hardly had space for the main meal. Everything was impeccably prepared and beautifully presented and I could find no fault in the meals that we ordered, which was definitely a first! Below is an overview of the items we had.
Salmon and Rice Bowl
I have had this before and it tasted just as good as it did the first time. The vibrancy of the colours in the dish were matched by the medley of robust flavours, with the fresh salmon mixing well with the rice, avocado, bok choy and crispy bites. If you love sushi you will definitely love this dish because its deconstructed sushi on steroids!
These tuna sushi rolls were delicious. The spicy tuna and the the crunchy bites provided good texture contrasts. The rolls are considerably big so downing one in one mouth full was really amusing to watch.
Chilli Ginger Pork Samosas
These pork samosas tasted great with the sweet chilli dip. A good choice if you are not an adventerous eater or a sushi fan.
Chef Kens Teriyaki Baby Back Ribs
The ribs were tender and literally fell off the bone. The teriyaki sauce was perfectly sweet and I loved all the sweet onions that were on top of the ribs. The dish was accompanied by rice (which I hardly touched) as well as a sweet and tart tom sum salad which I loved (Though I have a feeling many people would not like the salad because of the fish sauce, which is likely to throw many people off, but try it!)
Homemade Tagliatelle With Creamy Mushroom and Chicken
What got me most was the depth of flavor from the mushrooms. I guess I’m used to ordinary button mushrooms which are light in flavour, but the mushrooms here were kind of smoky and accompanied with the cream, it was a bowl of rich deliciousness.
Singapore Style Fried Fillet Snapper
The fish is cooked to perfection and doused with a sweet sauce that went brilliantly with the fish. Its a lot like sweet and sour fish and it tasted fantastic.
This experience has restored my hope in NRW with Talisman acting as a prime example of what it should be – a chance for restaurants to use this opportunity to attract new customers, by going the extra mile leaving guests wanting to return for more. We got full size portions and there were no cuts made to make up for the discounted prices. The food was just as good as you would get on any ordinary day and for 1,500, this is definitely worth your money. I recommend you go for the 2 course lunch for 1,500 compared to the 3 course dinner for 3,000 for a better deal.
Location – 320 Ngong Road, Karen
Reserve a table by calling this number – 0705999997
Check out the list of NRW participating restaurants by visiting the Eatout website