Hello Foodies…
I have always had a thing for Chinese food.  I guess you could say it all started as a family tradition growing up when my parents would take the siblings and me out for a bit of Chinese, anytime we got good grades at school. Now that everyone is living so far from home and away from each other, this doesn’t happen as often as I’d like and that just kinda sucks. I miss those good ol’ days which is why I make sure to treat myself to some sushi (I absolutely love it!) or Chicken Chow Mein anytime my taste buds start feeling nostalgic. The only problem is that there are only a handful of places around that meet the standards and expectations I crave for. You should know that I am one of those people that are quite picky about where they choose to eat or have lunch meetings at. I don’t care if everything has been paid for, if I so much as hear a fly was buzzing in there, that restaurant is making it into my little black book and that’s that for us. 

I recently had the chance to try out a different spot called the Kabachi, a prominent Chinese bistro that is located inside the Ventura Mall at Samonda. I say prominent because this restaurant’s reputation certainly precedes it.  It is one of those places that creeps up in your conversation like,

“Kabachi this and Kabachi that” or more accurately, Oooh Josie you like Chinese right? then you should totally check the place out…” 
Haba wetin sef?

Perhaps I was being skeptical. In my defence, I have had so many bad experiences with Chinese restaurants down the years that I have become a tad cautious when it comes to trying out new ones. But like all foodies, my curiosity eventually brushed caution to the side, and one day, soon as I was done with my radio show, I finally decided to have brunch at the Kabachi.

Soon as I walked through those glass doors, I started to see why my friends were so psyched about the place. I already felt shut out of the noise and busyness of the outdoors, and boy did I love it!
Even before I had ordered, my eyes were already doing some feasting. The lights hanging from the ceiling felt warm and genuine, as if they were actual Chinese lanterns made by Chinese hands. The gold/creamy theme of the interior was as classy and regal as I’ve ever seen in a while, and one cannot simply ignore the tiny Chinese lettering that were intricately that were etched into the restaurant’s wall panels. I had a feeling that lots of effort (and money ofcourse) must have gone into detailing every last inch of this restaurant. There was even a reserved cubicle in a corner for those seeking to have dinner away from prying eyes. So far so good…

At this point, one of the waiting staffs approached me and with a welcoming smile, walked me to my table. After breezing through their menu, I decided to try out their special - Shrimp Fried Rice, with Chicken and Shredded Beef…hmmm, quite a mouthful if you ask me and a tricky order too if I may say. Most food critics would tell you that there are certain things on a menu that could make or mar the reputation of any Chinese restaurant… and yes, you guessed it! Fried rice happens to be on that list.

At my request, the food was prepared using Teppanyaki, which basically means the whole meal was prepared on an iron plate (Teppan) and then grilled/broiled/pan fried (Yaki), and all the cooking will be done right in from of me. I should perhaps drop it that Kabachi is the only restaurant in Ibadan that actually have the option of serving meals by Teppenyaki. The chef (who was Chinese) was pleasant and in all smiles. She went about preparing the food with such a calm assuredness, like if you dared her to do it blind folded she just might take you on. You cannot imagine my relief when she poured just enough groundnut oil on the iron plate before frying the eggs on the side, and then carrots and peas on another. Nothing ruins a meal for me more than having more grease on your plate than actual food. Then came the rice, shrimp, shredded beef, chicken bits and ooooh, soy sauce! My stomach was already doing the hoola-hoop. The entire restaurant was smelling like Christmas came early and I was that excited kid who couldn't wait to unwrap her gift. The whole process including serving the meal took about 15-20 minutes and no sooner than the waitress placed my plate in front of me was I ready to dig in. By this time, some of my skepticism had returned and I took the time to study my meal.

The rice didn’t look undercooked (thankfully), the chicken, beef and shrimp had a deliciously juicy outlook and the presence of veggies just helped add a bit of colour to the setup. The food looked just as mouthwatering as the aroma it gave off but I decided at this point to let my taste buds be the judge of that. Armed with my fork (seeing as lazy ol' me still can't use chopsticks yet), I dug in...
First bite. Oh my... I knew I was hungry, but there are certain times in life you don’t rush through and this is was one of such times. It took a lot of self-control not to stuff my face at my table. It was as if my mouth and that bite were having a very quiet little party and the soft music playing in the restaurant’s background was the commissioned soundtrack. The harmony of the various spices blended so well, with none overpowering the other and that balance was hard to ignore. One of the things I particularly loved about the meal was the juicy tidbits i got to pick out throughout the duration of the meal. I have a soft spot for sea food, so the shrimps were a welcome addition but I particularly enjoyed the juiciness of the beef and chicken. It was easy to chew and not the squishy kind either. 
Bite after bite, sooner than I would have liked, I finally took the last morsel and dang, my plate lay empty before me. Like the pleasant dream you wake up from with only memories left, I was left with nothing to comfort me but the aftertaste that still lingered in my mouth.

Hours later, back at home, i came to honestly comprehend that what made eating there truly special and memorable was not just the scrumptiousness of the meal, the soothing ambiance of the restaurant or the overall impressive quality of service, but rather how all these three worked together in perfect tandem creating the perfect dining experience. I can honestly say my trust issues with having Chinese in Ibadan vanished quicker than it took me to finish my meal.



Ambiance - 4.5
Presentation - 3.5
Food - 4
Service - 4
Pocket - 4


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