In Karen, a leafy suburb of Nairobi, chef Dennis Ang’ani whips up a unique fusion experience for just 12 visitors per seating on a greenery-laden cabin terrace. The multi-course dining concept is primarily inspired by local produce and traditional East African recipes done up with culinary techniques picked up by Ang’ani abroad.
Root and vine vegetables are freshly plucked from Embark’s own gardens. Ingredients are showcased using European techniques, from foams to fermentation, with elaborate presentations, and occasional garnishes of flowers plucked from Nairobi’s Physic Garden.
Expect a walk on the earthy side: a chilled banana and rum soup with a garden salad in Bailey’s and macadamia nut vinaigrette, seared tofu in Ethiopian shiro (a spicy chickpea sauce), or mini plantain burgers. Vegetable-based desserts often tread into especially wild, savory territory; from Amarula-braised eggplant with aerated broccoli ice cream, to ugali (corn maize) with creamed spinach.
All in all, the menu reflects Ang’ani’s multicultural experiences. After growing up in a German-Kenyan household, he moved around Europe working in kitchens from the Baltics to Barcelona, and fluently speaks German, English, Swahili, and Spanish.
Though as a child he dreamed of becoming a pro soccer player in Europe, he maintains that bringing an innovative approach to the African fine-dining scene has been a more fulfilling challenge for him than any league could be; and even requires similar skills like dexterity, teamwork and performance under pressure.
A picture of Coach Pep Guardiola, one of Ang’ani’s heroes, hanging from a wall-mounted handwoven basket, helps him to remember the importance of being a good leader and most importantly, to never be limited by conventionality and cultural borders.
Know Before You Go
Embark keeps its digital profile low-key, with only Facebook and Instagram pages. Call ahead l to make your reservation.