If you are looking to impress someone – a business partner, a spouse or anyone you would enjoy seeing their socks knocked off – then take them to a place like Emerald Garden which is, in my opinion, the very definition of swank.
Located directly opposite the United Nations main entrance in Gigiri, Nairobi, one would expect steep prices for food and drink at such a place but this, I am pleased to report, is not the case at Emerald Garden.
I'm not sure how the place looks during the day but at night it is this modern, uber chic restaurant – an impressive fusion modern architecture and nature with dark brown wooden archways leading to a bar enclave which in turn opens into the restaurant area. In the middle of both is a leafy garden area for that outdoorsy feel – an emerald garden indeed.
The Emerald Garden bar and restaurant is additionally a great place for a cocktail party with a wide open area that seems perfect for this and where the DJ booth and another small portable bar were set up during the restaurant's official launch.
There was plenty of relaxing jazzy music at the start but by dinner the tempo had changed to more upbeat party music quite appropriate on that Thursday afternoon and in happy anticipation of the weekend.
Of the finger food at the cocktail, the shrimp cake was the best – crispy on the outside but soft and moist in the middle. The fish cakes were, on the other hand, not as good – they were rather chewy and a bit rubbery.
Dinner was a spicy affair. You might want to watch out for the red hot chili pepper symbols printed along some of the meals in the menu. One pepper means mild, two is hot while three peppers means very hot. Aside from the lobsters, we ordered a little bit of everything from the menu.
There was crispy fried fish with sweet and sour sauce (pla bo wan) and crispy fried fish with homemade sauce (pla bo ran), both of which seemed fairly priced at Sh1,100 per plate. We also ordered some spicy friend mince pork with hot basil leaves (moo phad kra pao) and nue phad sauce mamuang (stir fried beef fillet in mango sauce) at Sh850 per plate.
The beef fillet was big hit with everyone in our dinner party maybe because it was the least spicy dish or perhaps because it tasted a lot like the softest mbuzi choma but with a delicious thick mango sauce.
I especially enjoyed the fried fish with homemade sauce as it was well-marinated with what I at first thought was lemon but then later discovered was actually mango sliced in noodle-like strips and cooked within the sauce.
Our dinner also included prawns which were a tasty sweet and sour. The pork too was well-spiced but the pineapple rice was another firm favourite with its bits of pineapple, baby corn, grean peas, carrot and raisins – it was more than delicious.
All this spicy Thai food was especially good with a sweet white wine from the the 'birds and bees' brand – a must for anyone partial to sweet wine.