Clean Eating at Boho

‘This is one of the best rhubarb crumbles I’ve ever had!’. That was high praise from my wife, Gabie, who is crazy for crumbles. We were at the Boho Eatery, along Ndovu Road in Karen, enjoying a late lunch on a Sunday afternoon. As she shovelled the crème Anglaise into her mouth with her teaspoon, I knew that she meant it.

The owner and Head Chef, Sarah Saleheen, seems to be a bit of a sauce specialist. The crème Anglaise was one of a number of sauces that really impressed us throughout our meal – from the rich curried sauce of my Katsu Bowl, to the spicy peanut dressing of Gabie’s Wellness Bowl. It’s not technically a sauce, but we were also blown away by the sharp chilli paste that accompanied our plantain starter. We asked Sarah afterwards how she managed to achieve such a depth of flavour in the paste, and she said it was because the chilli had been fermented with soy beans.

We spoke to Sarah for a while about her own roots, as well as those of Boho Eatery. Before opening the restaurant in September 2016, she worked as a public health consultant. She has always had a passion for food, and her aim with Boho was to create healthy, predominantly plant-based, dishes using organic produce from small-scale farmers. But because this produce is not always available, and pesticides are not properly regulated in Kenya, she now uses fresh export-quality ingredients.

The majority of the dishes on Boho’s menu are vegan or vegetarian – cuisines that have an unfair reputation for being bland and uninspiring. The quality and creativity of Boho’s food is testament to how far off the mark that reputation is. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say – which Gabie would no doubt confirm.

When Boho opened, there weren’t many restaurants around that served plant-based cuisine, so Sarah struggled to mould classically-trained chefs to her methods of cooking. ‘In the end, I gave up looking’, she said. ‘I found it much easier to train the staff that I already had, and who were eager to learn. Everyone in the kitchen today used to be a cleaner.’

It’s an unconventional approach, but one that seems to have worked. The food is of a high standard, and well presented. There are eight main sections to their menu, with influences from across the world. Their breakfasts are served until 11.30 am, and include interesting dishes like the Tofu Scramble and Spinach Pancakes.

Across the other sections – ‘Something Small’, ‘Something Soupy’, ‘Bowls’, ‘Tacos’, ‘Classics’, ‘Dosa Corner’ and ‘Something Sweet’ – there are plenty of (vn), (vg) and (gf) symbols beside vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. A couple of mains that I’ve tried on previous visits, and that are excellent, are the Spicy Black Bean Tacos and the Crispy Mushroom Burger.

Another aspect of Boho that Gabie and I really like is the fact that it’s dog-friendly, so we can take our three-month old German Shepherd pup with us whenever we go. The tables outside are spread out across the neat patio and large lawn, so there is lots of space.

Inside, there is a cosy sunken lounge beneath low-hanging Edison bulbs, and scattered antique sewing tables beneath dangling potted plants. Beside the main room is another attractive space, with a huge colourful mural of monkeys and tropical flowers. This green décor is well-suited to the restaurant’s plant-based and sustainable focus, and makes it a very pleasant spot to spend an afternoon.

Boho is open from 11.30 am to 6.30 pm from Tuesday to Friday, and from 9.30 am to 6.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. To book a table or order a takeaway or delivery, call 0727 502416.

Published in Kenya’s Sunday Nation