CHUKU'S RESTAURANT REVIEW:
Yes ‘Nigerian Tapas’, and no, it’s not a random computer error, it’s borderline genius!
Chuku’s is headed by an Igbo brother and sister duo; Emeka and Ifeyinwa, and this weekend (9th September) marks the final day of the seasonal Nigerian style Tapas restaurant.
The intimate dining area was brightened by warm white lighting to accompany the antique wooden interior and magnolia walls. There’s also a bar with five stools as you enter further into the restaurant serving as a nice place to sit and have a drink and eat.
Chilli Plantain Crisps
In my personal opinion, you can never go wrong with plantain crisps as a starter/snack. However, the fact that they were chilli flavoured (not the overbearing type of hot to the point your taste is impaired) made them a perfect introduction to the eatery session ahead.
Chuku’s really flipped the script by using quinoa instead of rice. I enjoy quinoa as a healthier alternative and was very much impressed that the essence of authentic jollof was encaptured, what made the dish exceptional was the smoky infusion. Overall it was so good we ordered a second dish!.
Stewed Barbecued Gizzard
Gizzard is one of my many weaknesses when it comes to food hence I was very eager to try this dish. Though I could taste the barbecue marinade, the amount of stew was slightly overwhelming. I would have enjoyed it more if the stew to gizzard ratio was altered so there was less stew and more gizzard. Nonetheless, the gizzard was prepared well and clearly took well to the barbecue marinade.
.Honey Suya Prawns
I’m a huge sucker for prawns, therefore, I was again very eager to try this combination. Overall the side worked very well in combination with the jollof quinoa. Similar to the stewed gizzard, it would have been nice to taste both the honey and suya spice together; as in the initial sweet taste of honey and then the aftertaste of the suya spice. The sauce was a little runny which meant the prawns were only lightly coated in sauce..
Served with the trademark Nigerian stew, these meatballs didn’t disappoint. The classic meatballs were topped with suya spice to give it the distinct authentic suya taste. The leftover stew can be used to accompany the jollof quinoa if you’re like me and you don’t like to waste good stew. .
I’m not much of a plantain connoisseur, but what I do know was that the plantain was fried to utter perfection. Well fried plantain is still firm, and the firmness was impeccable! Plain plantain was good enough for us, however the option to have coconut and/or sugar is the restaurant’s original choice. . .
The moi moi was both beautifully presented and succulent. The additional favours – worked well together. Note, if you’re not a vinegar fan it does have a hint of vinegar to it.
As intriguingly weird as this may sound I must say it tasted absolutely amazing! It is not as soft as your conventional waffle but the addition of golden syrup, berries and dairy free ice cream was absolutely exquisite – honestly mind blowing. This dish deserves all the accolades of tasting amazing whilst presenting itself as a suitable vegan and gluten free option.
Similar to the jollof quinoa, Chuku’s really took one of my culinary weaknesses and flipped the script (cheesecake is one of the quickest ways to my heart). The traditional biscuit base was substituted with chin-chin (Nigerian biscuit pieces) paired with an orange and cinnamon flavoured cream cheese filling. This was perfectly garnished with marmalade, orange zest and sprinkled chin chin on top. Chuku’s vision for this cheesecake was constructed meticulously and I would absolutely love to eat this again!
The service was enormously pleasant, and the owners are really lovely people to talk to. The siblings were very forthcoming about the inspiration for their business, dishes and secrets behind the taste of them. Also, the Chuku’s menu offers a plethora of vegan and vegetarian options so that everyone can thoroughly enjoy! I must also mention the variety of alcoholic and non-alcholic drinks available; the Riddles tequila iced tea is highly recommended. Overall, Chuku’s is perfect for a chilled dinner with family, friends and colleagues and also as a potential date night spot for a wonderful Nigerian culinary experience to be enjoyed in London.
By Chichi Okagbue