I have been meaning to try the OhCha Noodle Bar for quite a while. Ever since I first visited Tapas Ceviche which stands directly opposite it at the Westgate Mall, I was intrigued by the concept of a pure South East Asian restaurant promising authentic Thai/Vietnamese flavour. But Westgate is usually out of my way, and therefore that never really materialised.
Until this week, when EatOut was gearing up to launch its annual Nairobi Restaurant Week (November 26th to February 6th) – an opportunity to sample some of the most interesting and varied menus in the city that has genuinely grown into a culinary hub in the region. Over the course of the past year alone a huge burst of new restaurants have opened up shop – and what better way to take advantage of all the choice available than by taking advantage of the super low pricing!
I visited OhCha (thankfully) at an off peak time. I’d heard that it can get pretty packed during lunch and evening times – which is obvious to see given menu prices and the decent serving sizes. It seems like an extremely convenient location for anyone passing through the Westlands area at midday, looking for something a little more intriguing than your typical fast food spot. It’s snuggled between its sister restaurants Art Caffè and Tapas – an inspired move by the owners, who now practically dominate the food options at the ground floor of one of Nairobi’s biggest malls.
Ohcha is offering a tidy 950 shilling Nairobi Restaurant Week menu, and I fully recommend checking the place out if you haven’t been there before. The easy pricing gives you a lot more opportunities to try different recipes and if you’re headed down there with a group of people, sharing plates is perfect.
My starters included the chicken and veggie dim sum, the Tom Yum soup and the Thai fish cakes. The latter were absolutely superb – crunchy top, light and fluffy filling and extremely flavourful.
The veggie dim sum was a touch too bland for me; I’d have appreciated a little more bite or spice. The Tom Yum soup was my favourite soup offering of the day with added lemongrass raising its flavour profile. It comes in both vegetarian and nonveg options.
The portion sizes were pretty big- especially for starters. So make sure you have room in your belly to spare before heading down there.
I kicked off my mains sampling with the Chicken Pineapple and the Cheza Beef. The basil in the chicken dish was a little confusing to my taste buds, however the beef with eggplant and served with jasmine rice was a definite win. It’s hard to go wrong with tender beef in a rich sweet and spicy sauce.
The Pad Thai with peanuts and garlic did what it said on the tin – and probably one of the menu options that many would go for based off its description alone. I would however urge anyone who enjoys bold rich flavour to try out the coconut and chilli egg noodles (again, chicken or tofu can be requested). The seasoning, which I had been quite underwhelmed by in the hot Ginger Chicken soup, was perfect. The coconut offset the spice as it should providing just the right balance of flavour.
OhCha hasn’t been in Kenya very long, but it definite shows promise. I’d return for a few special dishes and hopefully they expand further, beyond Westlands and Village Market.
Find them on Twitter: @OhChaNoodleBar
Check out the full menu on their website