I took my mother out on the Friday before Mother’s Day for an early celebratory meal. As we are of Nigerian heritage (my mother is Nigerian and I was born here) I chose Chuku’s (the worlds first Nigerian tapas restaurant) as it was somewhere that I have been meaning to go to since it opened in early 2020. I was very interested in what my mother would make of the food. It was easy enough to arrange. I made a booking on line – choosing a 19:15 slot where we would have the table until 9 pm. I wasn’t sure where I could park, didn’t seem obvious from the map or website, so I called them to find out about parking. I was told that they didn’t have a car park but that I could park in the nearby Tesco parking. So that filled me with relief- I had a table and parking space, things were going to plan.
When we got to the Tesco carpark- I had to download the ‘Your Parking’ App and pay for a few hours parking. It just gave me piece of mind that the car would be in a ‘secure’ and covered place while we ate. A little side note here- when I was growing up, this Tesco in Tottenham was always the ‘big Tesco’ that we would go to in the summer holidays. I’m not quite sure why, maybe to get school things, I can’t remember. But what I do remember was that we loved coming into the Carpark and we would always wind the windows down on arrival because of the heavenly smell of bread that would be being pumped out from somewhere. It was glorious. However on this slightly damp and dark evening in March 2023, there was no smell of bread, something else, but not bread! Things change…
We took the lift down to the ground floor, walked out of the store and made the short walk to Chuku’s on the same road.
It looks cozy from the outside and the inside does not disappoint.
We were welcomed in by friendly staff, ushered to our table and offered a thirst quenching bottle of tap water straight away. Our ‘waiter’ for the evening turns out to be the cousin of the owners and was just so friendly and helpful, the place felt like home. He talked us through the menu, explaining that the dishes where small traditional Nigerian dishes with a twist. Anyone who has been to any Nigerian event know that when it comes to food, it’s a case of go big or go home! I recall that when I first moved into my flat, and I would invite my family over to eat, my mother would look with bemusement at the dishes I had laid out and ask ‘where the food Bunmi?’ , ‘what are your brothers going to eat..?’ , she would make her way to my tiny kitchen and insist that either she or me make another pot of rice. Yes, Nigerians do food and lots of it!
This was on another level – pure excellence I would say. The dishes were small and therefore totally manageable (me with my easily filled stomach and newly found food anxiety). After having a sample of palm wine, and deciding that it wasn’t for me that evening, we both ordered glasses of Chapman punch. This is something that I had vaguely been aware of via my medics foodie Facebook group. I understood it to be a classic Nigerian drink, Nigeria’s favourite drink no less. When I was growing up, I had naïvely, assumed this was Supermalt but you live and you learn.
The advice is that we order three dishes eat so that we have a table of about 6 dishes. They are are quite small dishes so the chances of getting uncomfortably full quite slim. So I ordered: Jollof Quinoa, Dodo and Caramel Kuli kuli chicken
And my mother ordered: Cassava and ata dindin, Egusi bowl and Suya meatballs
We decided on Sweet okra and Plantain chips as our ‘chops’ (in Nigeria – finger foods are referred to as chops)
We managed to get through all the dishes – only the chicken was unfinished and we took home with us. I was left feel, full and content at the end of the meal. I had no room for dessert, even with the benefits of sensory specific satiety. However, because we were out celebrating, we were given a card allowing us to have a free dessert next time we dine there. Nice!
I feel like I am coming back to this place…
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