CHUKU’s CHOP CHAT CHILL
After a good 15 minutes following Google map in circles and begging God not to shower His blessings this cloudy Sunday evening (English weather Ei?), we finally came to the Oval House cafe. At this point I still had no idea what was going on, I just followed my sister and Nii into this open space restaurant secretly praying this was going to be worth it. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach as I walked into the Afrocentric atmosphere with rustic wooden furniture, a cute little stage with what looked like a small guitar (I later learnt it’s called a Ukulele) and a microphone.
This whole thing was a surprise and as much as I love them, I can get very dramatic and disappointed when it doesn’t go well. The music in the background immediately got my attention; we all know what Afro music does to the soul. My face immediately lit up when we were greeted with a smile, owned by Ifeyinwa, one of the co-founders of Chuku’s that looks like mine, BIG!
Okay let me explain. This was actually a surprise birthday celebration. Tastewithprinny celebrates her birthday throughout the month of April. No discussion!
So after a quick introduction, we were offered “Palm wine” and taken to the lounge area. What most people don’t know is, the environment you choose to have your food in plays a key role in the entire experience. I immediately began to take it all in. Around the dining area I saw a chalk board that took me back to my primary school days in Ghana with drinks menu neatly displayed on it. As usual my company gulped the palm wine. It was my first tasting of palm wine and I must confess, I enjoyed it. The wine is white in colour which is what comes out from the palm sap and not the transparent colour that some people describe it as. The sweet-like nature of the wine hides the fermented smell that develops after collection and takes you by surprise when it turns sour and acidic in the mouth. Overall, the palm wine had an underwhelming percentage of alcohol and could still be consumed before dinner even though I would not advise to have it on an empty stomach because of its acidic component.
After what seemed like forever (anticipation and sitting on tenterhooks has a way of making everything so much longer) we were ushered into the dinning area to what was to become my first ever Nigerian Food Tasting experience. The team introduced themselves and the inspiration behind the Supper club which has been covered by Nii in his post – A delightful evening at the Nigerian tapas Supper Club.
Chuku’s presented their food in Tapas style with an element of African sophistication and the idea was to encourage sharing.
As a food taster, I struggle to share food especially during a tasting session because my experience often gets diluted by others’ opinions. The whole sharing bit I must admit though is perfect for a chat and chill whiles chopping experience. Just don’t be greedy with the portions like my sister was.
The pepper soup kicked things off nicely. It arrived in a little wooden bowl and had a murky brown colour and tiny pieces of meat. The meat was tender and spicy, but somewhere deep down the African in me wanted that “pepper cry your eyes out” experience. It must be noted, however, that the whole philosophy of Chuku’s is to present Nigerian and African food, to Londoners, in a way that will be suitable to their palates i.e. going very easy on ingredients like pepper.
What stood out for me was the “moi moi” which is a Nigerian steamed pudding made from black-eyed peas. The team managed to present this savoury dish in clear round shapes and maintained the orange like colour on the outside and cream like colour on the inside. I must admit that the wooden cutlery interfered slightly with my taste buds, but the moist texture could not be hidden and overall I enjoyed it.
We were also presented with the “jollof quinoa” which I had never had before. I must commend Chuku’s for their boldness in experimenting and adding their twist to West Africa’s favourite – Jollof rice. Admittedly I prefer my grains separate. Quinoa is fluffy in texture, rather like couscous. We were spoilt with so many other dishes like the egusi salad, fried plantain, kulikuli chicken wings and a few others.
We were also entertained by live jazz music by a young artist called Chisara Agor.
Our night was summed up nicely with “chin chin cheesecake” as desert. The texture of the crust stood out for me as it was a bit decadent and supported the smooth and creamy texture of the cheese without creating a mess.
My birthday celebration was perfect, my taste buds were happy and I hope I have given you a complete picture on what to expect at Chuku’s Chop Chat Chill supper club. Thank you to the awesome duo for the opportunity to taste and share my first Nigerian Food Tasting tapas experience.