The supper club: members taste the cuisines of the world

Food and drinks

The supper club: members taste the cuisines of the world

Supper Club participants at Tigoni Lake House, Kenya. PICTURES | BOWL

The fatty tuna melts in my mouth. Eel is surprisingly good too, as is dried sea urchin in seaweed, boiled black cod with soy sauce, Japanese plaice, and all of the over 12 types of raw or lightly cooked fish I eat.

It’s a seven-course meal, punctuated with lots of laughter and good conversation amidst many sips of sake, a Japanese rice wine.

I’m at Eden’s Egg Bar, a Karen hotel in Nairobi that Anna Trzebinski, a German fashion designer who lived in Kenya for years, converted from a family home.

Gathered with about 11 other people on a Sunday afternoon, they are not walk-in diners but members of a Supper’s Club, a dining club for adventurous eaters who sample the breadth of world cuisines, but without traveling outside of Kenya. They consider themselves epicureans.

Mikul Shah, the director of EatOut started the Supper Club by a stroke of luck.

“The Supper Club was created to allow friends and acquaintances to finally catch up after 18 months of Covid. Before the pandemic we would have done it in a restaurant but hotels were still recovering from the uncertainty of restrictions and vaccinations,” he said. BDLife.

“I had met a promising young Kenyan chef and hired him to cook for 18 friends at my house. Every guest brought their bottle of wine and that was the birth of the Supper Club,” he says.

The first club meeting at The Lake House, Tigoni, which was basically an afternoon of enjoying good food and wine, was a success. Mr. Shah says he never really wanted to make it a business venture. But after people enjoyed the meet and dine event, he decided to continue hosting different chefs, once a month.

“But it was only for friends and acquaintances. Then word spread there was a demand to have unique dining experiences in unique places,” he says.

At Eden

At this Sunday afternoon event, diners of more than five nationalities enjoy a Japanese meal. Not Mr. Shah’s acquaintances, some were referred by friends, others just heard of a diners club and joined.

The attraction is sushi master Fumikazu Onuki, ready to perform culinary magic using ingredients imported from Toyosu Market, one of the largest fish markets in the world. The Tokyo market retains the greatest appeal for revered sushi chefs, says executive chef Onuki, who has been a professional sushi chef for 37 years and has cooked for the royal family.


Executive Chef Onuki, who has been a professional sushi chef for 37 years, prepares sushi for guests at Lake House, Tigoni. PICTURES | BOWL

The 54-year-old is in Kenya to set up an authentic Omakase-style Japanese sushi restaurant at Villa Rosa Kempinski, and do exclusive private concerts while waiting for the opening.

“I remember eating sushi in a restaurant in Nairobi and spitting it out. The rice was cold, the fish was not fresh,” he says.

To guarantee the authenticity of his Japanese dishes, Chef Onuki and his team have brought in all the ingredients, except the sake.

“I love sushi, so I decided to ask him {Onuki} to cook for Supper’s Club, and opened it up to the public by hosting him at Eden in Karen,” Shah said, adding the turnout was excellent. .

“There were a significant number of Japanese guests but we also had Kenyans and expatriates,” he adds.

At 20,000 shillings per meal, Mr Shah says the experience proved to be good value for money. It was a blend of the best sushi, prepared by a true sushi master, served with amazing wine and a beautiful venue with impeccable service.

Sushi making

Sushi making is a revered craft, says Chef Onuki. Nobody teaches anybody how to make sushi. They learn by watching, from a distance, and for years.

“I spent more than five years doing the dishes near a sushi chef, washing the rice… before becoming a sushi chef. You gain trust, then he can assign you tasks like washing rice. Then I learned how to clean and prepare fish for sushi, then they let me practice making rice balls for sushi and I mastered the skill from there,” says -he.

At Eden, diners watch how Chef Onuki prepares the sushi. As he prepares to serve appetizers, we raise our small, thin-rimmed sake glasses and shout “Kanpai” (a Japanese form of cheering) before picking up the chopsticks to eat.

The first course to the fourth, which was corn tofu, fried shrimp cake, whitefish in sauce and black cod cooked in soy sauce, just passed. Laughter fills the air, the sommelier fills the glass more than many expected, but they nod their heads every time she asks for “more”?


Various types of Japanese fish served by Executive Chef Onuki at Tigoni Lake House. PICTURES | BOWL

Each meal is explained as it is served.

It is the fifth course that is unforgettable. Eleven pieces of different types of raw fish, making up the seasoned nigiri sushi, are served. But not all at once. Japanese plaice, tuna, amberjack and medium fatty tuna come first.

On an elegant platter, the four vertically aligned slices of fish vary in pink. Then four more; salmon, kinme snapper, sea urchin and shrimp come next. Finally, the scallop, fatty tuna and sea eel.

Served with precision and pared down, the fish tastes clean and fresh.

The sea urchin was my favorite.

The miso soup was served with clams, in a wooden container similar to the traditional sugar dish, with a lid. Two chopsticks are placed next to it. It is quite taxing to open the shell to enjoy fish rich in protein and vitamin B12. But here, we totally immerse ourselves in the Japanese way of eating.

The dessert, adzuki bean jelly, is served with plum wine. Very sweet. Victoria Muli-Musyoki, a sommelier who was at the Supper Club, says they served Hakutsuru natural plum wine and two types of sake; clear and cloudy.

“Clear sake can be served with any meal, do not reheat it as it reduces the aromatic properties. Cloudy Sake is unfiltered and can be floral and sweet, serve it at the end of a meal,” she said.

Traditionally, sake is served in small ceramic or clay cups, which enhance its pure flavors. The modern alternative is small, thin-rimmed glasses.

“Drinking sake is ceremonial and the glasses are small to allow for the ritual of honor and reverence with each pour and sip. Drinking with two hands is encouraged,” she said.

At 3:10 p.m., the master of sushi, Chef Onuki, bows. We applaud.

“It was amazing,” said one guest. “High quality, precise cooking. Every lesson is so well thought out. It’s almost too surreal to believe you can get that in Nairobi.

We stayed until 6 p.m. After more sips of wine and more sake, a feeling of friendship oils.

I would like to know more about these local events. I have eaten Japanese food in many countries, but I ate real wasabi at the last Supper Club at Lake House in Tigoni. That alone made the event memorable. Some seafood that I like prepared differently, sea urchin for example. But it’s worth it, you don’t live very long to experience it,” said Cody Danet, the technician from California, USA. His wife, Julie Brown, said

“How much raw food do you eat each day? Very rare. I feel like this is what I would have eaten 500 years ago. The chef served very good raw fish, aged tuna. ..”

Mr. Shah’s plans?

“I’m sure the Supper Club will grow organically. Every time we announce an event, we get a lot of requests. The aim is to focus on new cuisines and future local chefs giving them a platform to showcase their skills – sometimes before they take the plunge to open their own restaurants, to test the market with little risk,” he says.

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