Photo: Ikoyi website/screenshot
Ikoyi is a name one would expect to find in Lagos, and not in London, as a restaurant name. Nigerians are generally known to carry their culture with them wherever they go. Asides from their fabrics, one major cultural aspect of the Nigerian lifestyle is their food.
Social media has been hit with waves of battles involving jollof rice, particurlaly between Nigeria and Ghana. Jollof rice is among the major Nigerian exports, and that’s why each battle is fought more fiercely against competition from Ghana jollof, Senegal jollof and lately Cameroon jollof.
Owing not just to literary texts by Nigerian writers who have always portrayed food in their works, starting from Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart where the yam was portrayed as the king of food in Igboland, Nigerian weddings have proven that many times people judge the wedding not by the gown the bride wore, but by the quality of food served, and if they received any.
But today Ikoyi has found itself in West London, its namely neatly designed on the building, an evidence of the exquisite meals that await you inside. Culture is never static, it’s always in interaction with other cultures, changing and reshaping, and this is what makes Ikoyi different. Started by two friends with the aim of fusing Nigerian flavours with London’s, Jeremy Chan and Ire Hassan-Odukale wanted to bring a twist to their new restaurant by creating a blend of African cuisine.
“We want to change perceptions of west African cuisine.” Ikoyi founders.
Situated in central London, the restaurant has a variety of mouth watering dishes worth trying. On the menu are dishes which include: Jollof Rice and Smoked Bone Marrow, Wild Nigerian Tiger Prawn, Banga Bisque and Marinated Manx Loaghton and Asun Relish among others. On its website, the restaurant says: “We combine bold heat and umami with the highest quality products we can find in a warm and welcoming environment. We explore ingredients such as Grains of Selim, a smokey peppercorn with the scent of eucalyptus, wild black tiger prawns and scotch bonnet chillies, which we ferment, burn and pickle”.
Ikoyi founders Jeremy Chan and Ire Hassan-Odukale: “We want to change perceptions of west African cuisine.” Photo: Twitter/ uk_foodservice
In a video on BBC Africa, Chan said, “I started researching West African ingredients, West African products, and realised there was a whole wealth of flavours and techniques and ingredients that had never been explored.” This knowledge changed the way he approached cooking. “We don’t try to recreate any traditional West African food. We just make anything from a complete blank objective state.”
You might find yourself eating a broth with a Japanese dash but with West African flavours. There’s no better way to unify the world than through food.