Food & Drinks

The supper club: Members sample world cuisines


The Supper Club attendees at Tigoni Lake House, Kenya. PHOTO | POOL

The fatty tuna fish melts in my mouth. The eel is surprisingly nice too, and so is the sea urchin dried in seaweed, the Black Cod boiled with soy sauce, Japanese flounder, and all the over 12 types of raw or slightly-cooked types of fish that I eat. 

It is a seven-course meal, punctuated with lots of laughter, and good conversation amid many sips of Sake, a Japanese rice wine.

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

Gathered with about 11 others on a Sunday afternoon, these are not walk-in diners but members of a Supper’s Club, a dining club for adventurous eaters that sample the breadth of the world’s cuisines, but without travelling out of Kenya. They see themselves as epicures.

Mikul Shah, the director of EatOut started the Supper Club by a bit of a fluke.

“The Supper Club was set up as a way for friends and acquaintances to finally catch up after 18 months of Covid. Pre-pandemic, we would have done so in a restaurant but hotels were still recovering from the uncertainty of restrictions and vaccinations,” he told BDLife.

“I had come across a young and upcoming Kenyan chef and engaged him to cook for 18 friends at my home. Each 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 essentially an afternoon of enjoying good food and wine, was successful. Mr Shah says he never really aimed to turn it into a commercial venture. But after people enjoyed the meet-up-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 for having one-off curated dining experiences at unique locations,” he says.

 At Eden

At this Sunday afternoon event, diners from over five nationalities are enjoying a Japanese meal. Not Mr Shah’s acquaintances, some were referred by friends, others just heard about a club of diners and joined.

The attraction is the sushi master, Fumikazu Onuki, set to perform culinary wizardry using ingredients flown in from Toyosu market, one of the biggest fish markets in the world. The Tokyo market retains the highest allure for revered sushi chefs, says Executive Chef Onuki, who has been a professional sushi chef for 37 years and cooked for royals.


Executive Chef Onuki, who has been a professional sushi chef for 37 years, makes sushi for guests at Lake House, Tigoni. PHOTO | POOL

The 54-year-old is in Kenya to set up an authentic Japanese Omakase-style sushi restaurant at the Villa Rosa Kempinski, and doing exclusive private gigs as he awaits the opening.

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

To ensure authenticity of his Japanese meals, Chef Onuki and his team flew in all the ingredients, save for the Sake.

“I love sushi, so I decided to ask him {Onuki} to cook for the Supper’s Club, and opened it up to the public by hosting it at Eden in Karen,” Mr Shah says, adding that the take-up has been great.

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

At Sh20,000 a meal, Mr Shah says the experience proved value for money. It was a mix of the best sushi, prepared by a genuine sushi master, served with incredible wine, and a stunning venue with impeccable service.


Sushi-making is a revered trade, Chef Onuki says. No one teaches anyone how to make sushi. They learn by watching, from a distance, and for years.

“I did over five years of washing dishes near a sushi chef, washing the rice…before I become a sushi chef. You earn trust then he can give you chores like washing the rice. Then I learned how to clean and prepare fish for sushi, and then they allowed me to practice making rice balls for sushi and mastered the skill from there,” he says.

At Eden, the diners watch how Chef Onuki is making the sushi. As he prepares to serve the appetiser, we lift our Sake glasses, small, thin-rimmed, and shout “Kanpai” (a Japanese form of cheers) before picking up the chopsticks to eat.

The first course to the fourth, which was corn tofu, deep-fried shrimp cake, whitefish in sauce, and Black Cod cooked in soy sauce, just flew by. Laughter fills the air, the sommelier refills the glass more than many had planned, yet they keep nodding every time she asks, “more"?


Different types of Japanese fish served by Executive Chef Onuki at Tigoni Lake House. PHOTO | POOL

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. The Japanese flounder, tuna, amberjack, and medium fatty tuna come first.

On an elegant platter, the four slices of fish lined vertically vary in pinkness. Then four others; salmon, kinme snapper, sea urchin, and prawn come next. Finally, the scallop, fatty tuna and sea eel.

Served with precision, and uncluttered, the fish tastes clean and fresh.

The sea urchin was my favourite.

The Miso soup was served with clam, inside a wooden container akin to the traditional sugar dish, complete with a lid. Two chopsticks are placed next to it. It is quite taxing to pry open the shell, to enjoy the protein and vitamin B12-dense fish. But here, you immerse yourself fully in the Japanese way of eating.

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

“Clear Sake can be served across all meals, do not warm it because 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 flavours. The modern alternative is small, thin-rimmed glasses. 

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

By 3.10 pm, the sushi master, Chef Onuki, bows. We clap.

“It was incredible,” one diner says. “High quality, precisely cooked. Each course is so well thought out. It’s almost too surreal to believe you can get this in Nairobi.”

We stayed on up to 6pm. After more sips of wine, and more Sake, a sense of friendship oils.

I wish I knew more of 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 I like it prepared differently, the sea urchin, for instance. But it’s worth it, you don’t live very long to experience this,” said Cody Danet, the tech guy from California, US. His wife, Julie Brown, said

"How much raw food do you eat every day? Very rare.  It feels 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 have a lot of demand. The aim is to focus on new cuisines, and local upcoming chefs by giving them a platform to showcase their skills - sometimes before they take the plunge to open their own restaurants, to kind of test the market with little risk," he says.