Nigerian food is eaten everywhere, in homes, restaurants, diners, bukas and road side joints. We met with Olisa Adibua, entrepreneur, television and radio presenter and host of the travel food doc-series, Bukas and Joints to talk about food.
Bukas and Joints focuses on promoting Nigerian and African food and culture. There are so many restaurants, even in Lagos, that are doing innovative things with Nigerian cuisine. Olisa recently met the chef of a new restaurant in Ikeja who mentioned that he has created a shaki/tripe dish. The shaki is marinated, dipped in breadcrumbs and then roasted.
The show not only looks at what’s new with Nigerian food but also the traditions of cooking and eating. The audience gets to see different types of places to eat, ranging from local dives to the uber expensive. For example in Calabar, Olisa ate antelope and porcupine at a roadside restaurant where the furniture was a fallen tree. On that same trip he ate at the plush Hilton Transcorp Hotel.
When asked about the most interesting dish eaten during Bukas and Joints, Olisa said, “In the first two episodes it was a baptism of fire. I went somewhere to try snake pepper soup in Lagos near Agege.”
The show is an avenue to understand Nigeria through cuisine. Olisa eats his way through the country. One soup can cut across different states and taste different because each area has a unique history and style of making it. This is what makes it exciting because you never know what to expect even if you have eaten something before.
Olisa was astonished by the variety of food in Nigeria. He told us that there were some soups he had never even heard of before the show. “I am sure you could try one new soup every day of the year and still have more varieties,” he said.
Nigerian food has now broken all regional boundaries because you can eat a dish from Northern Nigeria in Lagos or a soup from Akwa-Ibom in Abuja. We are becoming a melting pot of cultures. Olisa mentioned that he had amazing ogbono soup and okro soup in Ibadan.
It’s an exciting time for Nigerian food globally, as well. You can see this in the episodes featuring Olisa in London. Nigerian restaurants in London have evolved. Once unkept spaces where you would only order takeaway, there are now high-end Nigerian restaurants in posh neighbourhoods.
Olisa concluded, “It all starts with the image we portray to the rest of the world. We have managed to use music and film to create a positive image. I think Nigerian food is the next big explosion but we as individuals, especially in the diaspora, have to be the ambassadors. We need to embrace Nigerian food more and be proud of who we are and what we do. The aim is that when Nigerian cuisine is mentioned, the average non-Nigerian knows staple dishes, like pounded yam, eba, jollof rice, and some soups. You can already see this with the jollof war between Nigeria and Ghana which made the whole world aware that we eat jollof rice. On a side note, Nigerians make the best jollof rice.’”
Olisa’s recommended places to try on the Island and Mainland:
Bank Olemoh Designer's Rice
14 Bank Olemoh street, Surulere, Lagos
Try the white rice and black soup.
New Afrika Shrine
Nerdc Road, Agidingbi, Ikeja
Try the jollof rice and meat.
13B, Ilorin Street, Off Adelabu Street, Surulere
Try the edikaikong.
79/81 Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, Lagos
Try the pepper soup, yam and fish.
3, Adeleke Street, Allen Avenue, Ikeja
Try the gizdodo.
109 Akerele Street, Akerele Extension, Lagos
Try the efo riro.
Amuwo Odofin LSDPC Estate, Mile 2,
The Amala is the best in Lagos.
9 Maitama Sule Street, Ikoyi
Try the jollof rice.
Grills in and out
7A, Admiralty Road, Lekki
Try anything grilled.
Block A9 Plot 7, Wole Olateju Street, Off Admiralty Road, Lekki Phase 1
Fresh, local food can be found here.
5B Oju Olobun Close, Victoria Island
They have great presentation of food.
L'Afric Restaurant & Bar
1, Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island
Try the seafood okro.
14 Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island
Try the beans and dodo.
Jamo Afrique Restaurant
1 Yesuf Abiodun Way, Victoria Island
Try the rice and peas plus a curry.
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