Zen Oriental Cuisine Restaurant is located in Nyarutarama on the KG 9 Avenue on your way to Gacuriro, just opposite the Baho International Hospital in Kigali.
The restaurant’s exterior is made of rustic trusses with straw thatched roofs. The interior is dark brown, with black-themed décor with apricot-coloured tablecloths and magenta-coloured placemats.
I went there for a late lunch, dining solo. I was ushered in by an attendant with a beaming smile. His warm reception served as a preview of the restaurant’s hospitality.
After poring through the menu, I settled for a Futomaki Sushi. In my efforts to cure myself of my ignorance of Oriental cuisine, I had discovered that sushi was a Japanese not a Chinese delicacy.
The Futomaki Sushi is vinegared medium white-grain rice, flavoured with sugar and salt, combined with slices of avocado, cucumber, salmon and tuna rolled up in nori, an edible Japanese seaweed.
My main course was served right after I had finished devouring the Onigiri rice balls appetiser. The sushi was served in thick rolls and was delectable. The rice was a little stodgy for my taste, but it was complemented by the fresh avocado, cucumber with the raw tender salmon and tuna.
The shōyu (soy sauce), which was the dipping sauce, and the wasabi (Japanese horseradish paste) were served as condiments.
Zen Oriental was founded in Kigali in 2010 and was one of the first restaurants in the country to serve dim sum and sushi.
The restaurant also offers seafood, sashimi, temaki, noodles, rice, salads, soups and starters. Their signature dishes are Thai Green Curry, Lemon Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Sizzling Tofu, King Prawns, Chicken Teriyaki, Seasonal Greens, Button Mushroom and Golden Nile Perch. Indian-style Tandoori vegetarian starters, Chicken Tikka and various curries are also served.
Zen Oriental Cuisine has a mini lounge cum “sunning bar” where you can while away the evening as you watch the sun go down.
The bar has a wide choice of beverages — soft drinks, beers, ciders, house wines, brandy, gins, vodkas, premium and deluxe whiskeys, and the restaurant’s signature drinks.
The meal prices range from Rwf1,500 ($1.7) to Rwf16,000 ($18.5).