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The seafood lovers’ haven

If you have a craving for fish, why not dive into the Ocean Basket and get all the samaki you can eat, and then some more?

Njeri Maina @PeopleDailyKe

Soft music plays as we walk into the Ocean Basket Restaurant at The Oval building located in Westlands, Nairobi.

The waiters greet us warmly and ask us to choose our preferred seating space. This eatery is quite spacious, with both indoor seating and balcony seating.

We spot beautiful artsy chandeliers, a well-stocked bar and shiny bar stools begging to be sat on. We instead choose to sit at the balcony overlooking Ring Road, Parklands because we are teetotalers by day and on some nights.

I think the interior is well-designed with beautiful, potted green plants and plaid tablecloths. The wooden tables and chairs give the place a homey, cozy feel. On one wall, there is a blackboard where the day’s specials and desserts are written in coloured chalk.

We cannot help but think that this is the perfect place for a date or family night out due to its intimate feel. I think that maybe this is the place I should have brought my mother for Mother’s Day. We order a seafood platter for one, a salmon salad and some ugali and tilapia for the other and wait in companionable silence.

The salmon salad and sushi arrive first. It is quite sumptuous and is a marvel in texture and flavour. The grilled salmon beautifully contrasts the soft crunch of the lettuce as the kalamata olives’ tartness balances out the salmon’s smoky buttery taste.  I now have a post-workout dish that my instructor will not frown upon.

The sushi platter arrives in all its colourful, assorted glory. The fish is topped off with cream and caviar, with beautiful leaf-shaped wasabi paste on the side.

Our waiter of the day, Patricia, is not only warm and helpful, but is quite knowledgeable too. She gives us a crash course on the different types of sushi and how to dab it in some wasabi paste and douse it in soy sauce. You can choose the type of sushi you want according to the fillings you prefer, or simply choose the platter as we did and indulge your palate.

My colleague John Ochieng’s tilapia and ugali arrive hot in a pan, with flavourful smoke wafting from it. He digs in and tells me that the ugali is, well, quite well done. I do not believe him and break off a piece to test and see if my Luhya friends would approve. They would definitely approve.

John swears by the tilapia, and I decide not to test him on that. After all, he is an authority on fish, especially tilapia.

We decide to finish off this feast with the Ocean Basket Platter. The platter is to me a mix of ‘something new and something old’. (Anyone get the wedding reference?) It has grilled fillet, calamari tubes and heads, a healthy helping of fries, mussels and prawns.

Everything on this platter is simply delicious, from the fillet that I have had countless times before to the mussels, which I have never tasted. You are supposed to crack the mussel open and fork out the creamy inside, which tastes a tad briny, with a hint of lemon garlic sauce, I learn.

Mussels are now firmly in my ‘to eat again’ food list. I also learn how to de-shell a prawn and eat the soft crunchy inside. The calamari tubes and heads blow me away, the heads more than the crunchy tubes.

John and I are unable to polish off the platter and so we ask for a ‘goodie bag’, as we also subscribe to the mantra, leave no food behind. We are too full to order dessert and instead waddle out with full bellies and smiles on our faces. For as little as Sh850, they have a lunch package worth that much, while their platters start at Sh1,850.  You too can have the smile inducing Ocean Basket Experience.

I will be back with my mother even though it is well past Mother’s Day. After all, there is no time limit for sharing great food with loved ones.

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