There were a few Ocean Basket pamphlets floating around the office on Thursday morning displaying some seriously delectable looking seafood. For those who don’t know, Ocean Basket, a South African restaurant chain, was all the rave late last year when the first branch opened in Kenya. Ocean Basket serves seafood in a variety of cooked forms and sushi. It’s probably one of the cheaper (if not the cheapest) sushi options here in Nairobi. Carol (my coworker) was looking at an Ocean Basket pamphlet and remarking about how she had been craving sushi. The leaflet closest to me displayed a “sushi-licious” lunch offer (their words, not mine): order a ‘sushi for one’ platter and get a glass of house wine for ksh 1250. I didn’t need convincing. We agreed to head to Ocean Basket for a quick sushi lunch over our lunch break.
I had been to Ocean Basket once before when they had first opened and sat outside on the terrace. At the time, there was a huge blue tarp covering the outdoor patio which cast everything (especially the food) in an off-putting blue hue. Luckily, this has changed and the outside patio no longer looks like a scene from Avatar.
The outside is separated into smoking and non-smoking sections. The smoking section is by the bar with comfortable looking seats around high top tables.
Carol and I ended up foregoing the sushi-licious lunch deal but that didn’t stop me from ordering a glass of wine. I ordered the house white wine, a Quereu Sauvignon Blanc, and Carol ordered a glass of passion fruit juice. The glass of wine cost ksh 450 which is a little expensive for a house white wine but it was pretty good, light and crisp. Carol’s passion fruit juice was fresh which was a pleasant surprise since it cost ksh 350. Their wine, cocktail, beer, and regular drink menus offer a good variety of beverages for drinkers and non-drinkers. I was hoping Ocean Basket would have South African ciders as South Africa is known for their ciders but they didn’t have any, not even Savanah, Snapp, or Redds that are already in the market.
Our meal began with two complimentary bread rolls. I love it when restaurants add this beginning touch to the food service. It’s a nice gesture and gets your appetite started or, holds you over till your meal arrives.
Carol and I ended up ordering the sushi platter for two which is the exact same as the sushi platter for one, just twice the quantity. The sushi platter for two has 28 pieces of sushi, a mix of prawn, crab, salmon and tuna for ksh 1800. The sushi was decent for the price point. The fish tasted fresh and the presentation was beautiful, exactly what it looked like in the pictures which is pretty exciting to me. The prawn nigiri had a bit too much rice per piece but overall the sushi was well constructed. I especially liked the construction of the Tuna Fashion Sandwiches, an interesting and unique twist on your usual sushi roll.
Overall the service was good. Our waiter was prompt and polite even though Ocean Basket was surprisingly busy for a Thursday afternoon and he seemed to have a few tables. Our waiter also seemed knowledgeable about the different sushi items on the menu and what they entailed. However, when Carol and I recieved our menus, the lunch offer was no where to be seen. Not even the center piece on the table advertised the lunch offer, instead it advertised a happy hour special. When the waiter came to take our order, he didn’t mention it either. It was only after I asked if the offer was still available did he let us know about it. In my opinion, this is something that Ocean Basket should be advertising. The offer could potentially bring in weekday guests and lunch time traffic. If Ocean Basket doesn’t incorporate the lunch offer into their menu (perhaps it’s a temporary offer), I think the waiters should announce that they have offers/specials when they first come to your table.
My second Ocean Basket experience was enjoyable. The restaurant had good ambiance and looked like it was doing good business. The food is good but still felt a bit like fast food to me. Maybe it’s the paper lining on top of the table cloth, the look and feel of the menu, or the quality of food either way, it was good but felt a bit pricey for these reasons. Hopefully, I’ll be back one day and be explore more of their menu and maybe then my opinion will change.
The food: 8/10
The drink: 8/10
The service: 9/10
A word to the wise: The Oval now has City Council members charging people for parking in front of the building. It’s a flat fee of ksh 300 so unless you’re planning on staying at The Oval for 5+ hours (in which case I’d have to ask you, why??) then plan to park in the parking garage where parking is prorated.