I haven’t eaten much at Brixton Village; another corner of London being forced through the gentrification sieve but I think I’ll start going there more often on my quest to seek out good African and Caribbean eateries in London!
An impromptu Friday night meet up led me to Etta’s Seafood Kitchen. I didn’t have time to look at any reviews beforehand and went on the trusted recommendation of a friend who visited there 2 weeks before.
It’s a small eatery with around 5 tables inside 1-2 waiting staff and 2 cooks (one of them being Etta herself). As a small business I resigned myself to the fact that service would be slow, especially as the restaurant was packed inside and all but 1 of the additional tables outside were also full. Service was friendly, but I did have to nudge the waiter a couple of times when requesting extra hot pepper sauce.
We had saltfish fritters to start which were divine! For my main I went for the sea bass with coconut milk, which came with a vegetable medley, green plantain (or ‘green banana’ as some may say), yam and pumpkin.
I’m not a fan of fish head, but at least I was served the whole sea bass! I enjoyed the meal and washed it down with their rum punch which was OK, but I’ve had better (so probably won’t have again when I go back).
Portion size was OK-ish, I was in a good place when I left but thought there would have been more food on the plate as it was a Caribbean restaurant. But I guess if I wouldn’t hold European restaurants in London up to the same standard of large portion sizes, as this is not a cultural norm for such restaurants, I should be a bit more lenient on Etta’s Seafood kitchen!
I looked at the reviews afterwards and the ones I found were quite old (2012) and not great. I’m glad I made a spontaneous visit because if read the reviews first I probably wouldn’t have gone. Etta has made some improvements and for now I think I may have found a nice little seafood gem in South London. I’ll be visiting again to try out the rest of the menu. Watch this space!
Come alone, leave with friends…My supper clubs have a networking vibe, if you come alone you won’t feel out of place. There are games, communal dining where you share a plate of food and get mingling, saysTokunbo – founder of Tokunbo’s Kitchen.
I came out of Angel tube station and immediately tapped in the address of the Starbucks where Tokunbo and I agreed to meet. I have the worst sense of direction and only had 10 minutes to get there, so I didn’t have time to get lost!
But by anxieties where unwarranted, the Starbucks was just across the road from the station and I was 5 minutes early. I bought a herbal tea and found a table. Notebook and pen ready, red record button on my iPhone begging to be pressed. I waited for ten minutes then Tokunbo rushes in flustered and apologetic for being late. Selfishly, it made me feel more at ease because I wasn’t late lol. Anyway, after big smiles and greetings exchanged we got started…
African food is becoming more popular in the UK, why do you think this is? Social media! Our generation isn’t shy about documenting their food experiences. People create hashtags like #jollofwars, giving African food publicity!
Why did Tokunbo’s Kitchen start? My mum taught me to cook Nigerian food from a young age with the expectation that I’d be cooking for a family one day. I saw that you can do so much with it and wanted others to experience it. Friends always commented on my food and I’d spoken with a friend about getting into the street food business. So, I did it!
I love being in the kitchen, making things happen and the freedom of running my own business.
I do everything myself, so creating a permanent team would help. The hardest part of running Tokunbo’s Kitchen is doing festivals and market stalls – I get around 5 hours sleep, cook, set up, on my feet all day, and do the washing up!
When did you start Tokunbo’s Kitchen? In 2015 I went to a festival and queued for over an hour for jerk chicken! That’s when I thought I can definitely do this myself, and started Tokunbo’s Kitchen in September 2015.
What was your first Supper Club like? At my first supper club, I served pounded yam in a communal setting, with a big bowl of Egusi stew (the same way you would get it in Lagos). That way people can try as much as they like. Many Nigerian dishes are vegan based and we cook with palm / coconut oil.
Nigerian food is a burst of different flavours. I make a chilli sauce as a side, so people can add spice themselves – anyone can eat my food.
What do you think about ‘African fusion’ food? It’s fine, but I also like to keep food authentic especially when introducing it to a new audience. My non-African customer base is increasing, so I wouldn’t stray too far from my roots. If I did I would lose what makes me special.
What’s Tokunbo’s Kitchen ethos? Bringing people together through great food, giving them a taste of Nigeria.
“When people are thinking about what to have for a takeaway I want them to think of Nigerian food and say ‘Let’s go to Tokunbo’s Kitchen and have some Jollof rice’”.
Have you eaten anything interesting lately? The other day I had suya chicken and puff buns, it was like the Nigerian version of Chicken and Waffles. ‘Suya’ is the name of the popular beef snack but suya chicken is quite new in Nigerian cooking. The spice yaji used to make suya, is very versatile.
Most Popular dish of 2016 from Tokunbo’s Kitchen? My Jollof, Ayamase stew (with green chili) cooked with palm oil and Iru (locust beans). Akara, which is black-eye bean fritters, was also quite popular last year.
What’s new in 2017? There’s a lot in the works: A meal subscription service, more supper clubs, and pop-up venues across London. My first of the year will be at Craving Coffee on 3rd February, in Tottenham, London. I’m interested in doing a series of networking talks, on running a business, women empowerment and other topics, where of course there will be good food!
The relationship between Africa and the UK spans centuries. In the last 2011 UK census 1.8% of the population of England and Wales identified as black African. Various waves of immigration, have led to multiple snippets of African culture in the UK. According to the census, the foreign-born African population come from all across the continent including:
We all know that Africa is a diverse continent and not a country. However, along with music and fashion, generalisations are also made in reference to African food. Undoubtedly, there are similarities in cuisine within specific regions but African food cannot be grouped onto one plate and that’s what makes it fun!
Battle of the ‘A’ continents?
Unlike Asian immigrants to the UK who have carved out a conspicuous niche for Asian Food, Africans have lagged behind in this area…but they are making up for lost time! In addition to African restaurants, some foodies/chefs have gone the supper club /pop-up restaurant route, making African food more accessible.
What is a supper club?
Supper clubs can vary in size and take place at different premises, decided by the host. This can be in a private home or a neutral location. Each guest usually buys a ticket beforehand and eats from a set menu. African supper clubs are slowly spreading across the UK, with many of them in London.
How do you find out about African supper clubs?
Online (including social media) and word of mouth.
Raised in a West African family, we generally ate our traditional food at home, so I’ve not really felt the need to look for African restaurants, until recently. Admittedly this was the wrong mindset to have. I’ve realised Supper clubs introduce guests to a creative fusion of African dishes that you (as an African) may not cook on a regular basis and they are a great opportunity to socialise with new people (which you wouldn’t really do if you went for a standard restaurant meal). There has also been an increase in non-Africans going to supper clubs, which is great as it puts African food in front of an additional audience, dispelling the myth that African food is just about pepper and heat.
Why are supper clubs important?
First of all they are fun! You get to socialise with different people.
They give independent food entrepreneurs a platform to gain exposure, develop a following and build their business.
Where is the next African supper club in London?
Check out below; why not grab a ticket and get a little taste of Africa?!