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A sensual journey of French cuisine in the heart of Kenya

December 3, 2018

Hold up the palm of your hand and think of five friends you can tolerate for a few hours. Now pick out some not to risky activities you can share with them. Bungee jumping on the Zambezi, skiing down the Swiss Alps, taking a wine tour down the Eastern Cape in South Africa or simply attending a Salsa or Kizomba class together. While the choices are unlimited they need not be this complicated. Before flying out to some exotic destination I would suggest you spend some time to dust up your table manners as you reawaken your taste buds, right here in Kenya.

There is more to food than just filling up your belly and basic nutrition. I recently discovered there is a story in every ingredient and each meal can be a work of art. I found a fine little restaurant tucked away in the heart of Nairobi’s Kilimani area on the second floor of Galana Plaza and it literary blew my mind. Not only is it run by a brave and creative young Chef and his partner, it fuses French cuisine with Kenyan ingredients in a way that would impress even the fiercest but open-minded food critique.

Five Senses restaurant is luxurious and simple. It is also unpretentious with an obvious focus on little treasures of gastronomic delight. The interior is fresh and designed to calm you down. The mood lighting gently bounces off ivory coloured walls. As you settle down you will be captured by the rustic and ethnic props that might not have caught your eye as you walked in. The space is laid back and relaxed. Light jazzy music seeps through the air only interrupted by light whispers of the few dinners chatting away. My favourite section of the décor is the dash of red on three photographs on the main wall. They can spice up even the worst date and if that fails the wide choice of high quality wines will certainly get his or her mood up.

My experience started with an unnerving cocktail uncannily named ‘the French connection’. It certainly went straight to my heart, as it was a mix of Hennessy primed with lime.

My maiden meal was a Pan seared Fillet of Milk Fish served on Confit leeks, potatoes and Zucchini (Paired with an Alsace Riesling ‘Hugel’ from France). My last visit to Paris was not this sumptuous. Great bunter made it an awesome evening. The evening was concluded with a Cinnamon Roll Cake consisting of a fluffy white cake base, cinnamon powder and brown sugar glazed with a white vanilla sauce once baked and paired with Sandeman Port Wine. Some of these sumptuous meals were specially designed to pair with fine wines and it is evident Chef Kimani is becoming known for creating dishes to pair with any good drink.

When I finally got to meet the Chef, Mr Kimani Kiarie. He has a shy and modest demeanor that somewhat masks the confident and passionate gentleman that soon emerges. He blends in well with his team of young chefs in the open kitchen. I learned that he trained in Kenya for 2 years at the Top Chefs Culinary Institute then headed to Switzerland where he pursued  a Bachelor of Culinary Arts from the Culinary Arts Academy in Switzerland otherwise known as César Ritz College in Le Bouveret.  Kim then proceeded to Alain Ducasse Education in Argenteuil, France for a Superior Culinary Arts Diploma. Kimani has gained crucial international experience at several internationally acclaimed restaurants including Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, France both of which are part of the Dorchester Collection and IDAM, in Doha Qatar; During his learning in France Chef Kimani greatly loved the Alain Ducasse style of cooking and worked at an IDAM, an Alain Ducasse rubn fine dining restaurant where he greatly enhanced his Chef skills. Despite all this he finally decided that East or West, home is best.

His journey says a lot about where his heart is. Foregoing the opportunity to do time at some the world’s top restaurants alongside globally famous chefs, he decided to reward his country and continent with a rare gift. For that reason alone I was determined to find out if he was all that and a bag of chips. I quickly discovered that if French fries is all you seek, you best stick to fast food outlets, as Five Senses Restaurant is certainly a different kettle of fish.

I shall certainly be back and this time will try the coffee infused steak. This 32-day aged sirloin steak is served with potato gratin, charred Romaine lettuce and roasted coffee beans and is paired with a Maison Janouiex from France

In its short existence Five Senses has consistently hosted full course food pairings with both wine and Whisky. Chef Kimani seeks to take you on a journey that will ignite and bring all your senses to life and let you embrace the art of fine dining in the region.

I am sure you would love to know how that tastes.

W: Five Senses
T: 0743 274375
A: 2nd Floor Galana Plaza, off Galana Road Nairobi KE

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