cooking yakisoba

Yaki udon, a Japanese stir-fried noodle dish made with thick, flat wheat noodles, is a popular and much-loved staple of Japanese cuisine. Both yaki udon and yakisoba—a similar dish which uses a thinner buckwheat noodle instead—are cheap, tasty, and readily available from many street food stalls and Japanese-style pubs). So when one of our RocketNews24 Japan reporters read that not only had a yaki udon restaurant opened up in Kenya, but that it was that it was a huge hit with the locals, he just had to check it out for himself.

Read on for our Japanese reporter’s restaurant review as he travels halfway across the world for a bowl of noodles.

A Japanese person in search of yaki udon in the middle of Africa might sound like a far-fetched idea, but rumour had it that these were some of the best noodles outside of Japan, or at least certainly in Africa. And given that Japanese cuisine is far from common on the African continent, our reporter had to check it out to make sure it was up to standard.

The food outlet is question was located in the middle of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, in an area reminiscent of Shibuya due to its mix of cool and stylish shops and businesses. Going by the name of Teriyaki Japan, the restaurant serves fusion Western-Japanese fast food. Whilst it may seem surprising that a teriyaki chicken restaurant would offer yaki udon on its menu, it has been a huge hit in Kenya.

From outside the restaurant, a large teppan (hot plate) counter is clearly visible. The chicken is cooked right before your eyes and you can see and hear it sizzling away.

teppan chicken

A fragrant aroma hits you as enter the restaurant. Evident by the number of staff on hand and the crowds of fashionable locals in the store, it really is popular. With the menu offering various Japanese-influenced dishes including karaage (fried chicken), chicken katsu (breaded chicken cutlet) and gyudon (beef bowl), Kenyans are getting a taste of Japan, and are apparently loving it.

But our reporter was really here for the yaki udon—which was locally called Teriyaki Noodle and purported to be the number-one item on the menu. Just to be certain, our reporter asked one of the cooks, “Are you making Japanese yaki udon?”, to which the cook replied, “Yaki udon? I don’t really know, but here we call it Teriyaki Noodle and it’s a really popular menu item. It tastes great and I love it”.

▼ Cooked fresh right in front of you


staff counter


It did look rather tasty, so our eager reporter naturally ordered a serving.

The Teriyaki Noodle is 490 Kenyan shillings, about US$4.70, which is pretty cheap by Japanese standards, especially given the portion size. It’s considered a little pricey by Kenyan standards, though; Japanese cuisine is considered gourmet to most Kenyans, but even so it represents fairly good value for money.

The verdict

Even by his exacting Japanese standards, our reporter said the Kenya’s “Teriyaki Noodle” was really good. Opening up the serving box, there was a generous portion of yaki udon that released a mouth-watering aroma, and definitely impressive by fast food standards. Sitting atop of the noodles was a serving of grilled teriyaki chicken which was a crisp golden colour and had been cooked to perfection. Whilst it didn’t quite look like a traditional bowl of yaki udon, which usually has slightly flatter noodles and served without the chicken, the dish looked great and in terms of quality was on par with that served in Japan. Biting into that chicken confirmed that it not only looked good but also tasted delicious. The teriyaki flavour was hard to fault. If anything, when compared to the usual Japanese flavour, it was probably a bit sweeter, he admitted.

yaikudon in box

It’s easy to see why it the dish has become a hit in Kenya. It’s packed with flavour, and the winning combination of soft chewy noodles with the sweet teriyaki taste is hard to resist. Even the thickness of the noodles was perfect—somewhere in between soba and udon; it was similar to the thick noodles used in tsukemen (a ramen dish where the noodles are dipped into the soup broth separately). The taste and texture are key when it comes to noodles, and Kenyans who are perhaps not familiar with Japanese cuisine probably find the chewy texture fresh and satisfying.

Judging by the number of orders taken in the time that our reporter was at the restaurant, it really did seem that the Teriyaki Noodle was the most popular menu item. The rumours were true: in the most unlikely of countries, Kenyans have really taken a liking to one of Japan’s most popular noodles. If you find yourself in Kenya and with a craving for Japanese-style fast food, be sure to drop by Teriyaki Japan!

Restaurant information
Teriyaki Japan
Address: Corner House Ground Flour Mama Ngina St. Nairobi, Kenya
Business hours: Monday-Friday 7 AM – 9 PM, Saturday 8 AM – 8 PM, Sunday 9 AM – 7 PM

Photos © RocketNews24
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