London’s Nigerian “tapas” restaurant
Who dey chop that kind small jollof?
When I first saw a link to Chuku’s Nigerian tapas restaurant in my social media timeline, the first thing I thought was, “Isn’t that an oxymoron?”
I mean, tapas is a Spanish style of dining comprised of small, or snack-sized, plates of food, but who eats snack-sized Nigerian food? It’s not possible. My experience with Nigerian food has ALWAYS included plates overflowing with mounds of food.
I mean, who eats small jollof? This is Nigerian jollof we are talking about…so small is blasphemy for sure.
But the more I read about the vision for London-born, Nigerian sister-brother duo, Ifeyinwa and Emeka Frederick’s pop-up restaurant, the more excited I was to “chop, chat and chill” at one of their events.
Wanting to take diners away from the fast-pace of London living, the two decided to combine Emeka’s love for the social atmosphere of Spanish tapas dining culture, and Ife’s appreciation for the relaxed, calm way of life she experienced living in Martinique, with the Nigerian food they’d known since childhood to launch Chuku’s, London’s (and probably the world’s) first Nigerian tapas restaurant.
However, Nigerian culinary purists, Chuku’s menu is not the traditional Nigerian dishes you grew up on made tapas-style. Instead, it’s a fusion of old and new flavors crafted from ingredients you’d find throughout Nigeria’s culturally diverse culinary palate–kuli kuli chicken wings, suya meatballs, eba and egusi, adalu, moi moi, chin chin, and, of course, jollof.
But this isn’t the standard jollof known for starting multi-country wars. Chuku’s jollof, a crowd favorite, uses quinoa (yes, quinoa!) steamed in a stew of sweet red peppers, plum tomatoes and ginger–all the flavors from mama’s pot!
Ife and Emeka are not just focused on making Chuku’s a place to gather, relax and enjoy good food with friends and family, they also want to highlight and introduce their heritage to people in the UK.
“It’s more than just the food, it’s giving you an introduction to the beauty of Nigerian culture. We don’t just want to serve nice food, we want to serve nice food rooted in Nigeria. It’s important to us that it’s centered around authentic Nigerian tastes and flavours.”
“Nice Eating You” is a journal of all the good food I find from artisanal foodpreneurs, innovative chefs, new restaurants, and epicureans that join me in celebrating the “best of” in the culinary world.