Taste Test: The Amala at NOK by Alara
Unlike Folly, Nosa is not the biggest fan of Amala. Actually, that sounds like he might tolerate it. Nosa HATES Amala. That's a true reflection of what we're dealing with. So you can see how a proper assessment of the Amala at NOK wouldn't work if one half of Eat.Drink.Lagos has an inherent bias. Lucky for us, two readers of the blog helped us out - @Ruby_TNT and @Jollz
ONYEKA: NOK is well known for its gourmet take on traditional Nigerian and African food in general, so when I was chosen (yay, me!) by Eat.Drink.Lagos to try out its new Amala menu, I was pretty excited.
JOLA: Joining Folly, Nosa and Onyeka to try out Nok’s amala was the natural next step in what I consider a career in amala connoisseurship and I was honestly honoured. Many are called but Jollz was chosen and more importantly, Jollz delivered.
ONYEKA: Not because it was free amala, I mean sure, who doesn’t like free food especially when it’s amala, but because I was kind of eager to see how NOK intended to gourmet-fy it.
ONYEKA: Anyway, no need to talk about how pretty NOK is and its amazing ambience…those who know, know. On to the food itself. Firstly, it came in a really pretty bowl. Not authentic clay, but it did look quite real and gave off that traditional food vibe-ish.
Now, to dissect the food and cost.
Bearing in mind that the menu said "amala with ewedu, gbegiri and assorted meat" for N3500, I was expecting a lot of amala for that price. Iya Olaiya anyone?
JOLA: The best amala is Ibadan amala, closely followed by early morning “buka” amala (don’t ask me how I know this) and right behind that is wedding amala (but it’s advisable you have a cast iron stomach to be able to fully take advantage, if not you'll find yourself stuck in the bathroom for hours).
ONYEKA: But one needs to remember that this is fancy amala and not the usual Iya Basira type food so I guess N3,500 is understandable…
...nahhhh, it’s not. N2000 or N2500 would have been more feasible.
JOLA: Again, NOK is great at presentation. The bowls were super cute and the amala was appropriately drowned in a sea of ewedu, gbegiri and assorted meat (yuck) as is customary.
ONYEKA: The amala wasn’t much. At first glance, it looked quite plentiful until I realised that it was literally a circle. The space in the middle was meat and stew. Hmmm.
Anyway, there was a whole lot of stew but not enough ewedu. I should point out now that I refused the gbegiri because beans because ground beans because EWWWW. Moving on, ewedu makes the whole meal. As far as I’m concerned, my amala should be drenched in ewedu with just a little bit more than a splash of stew. Luckily, the stew was really nice, so I guess I can forgive the not-enough ewedu.
ONYEKA: Then, the meat.
JOLA: I really, really dislike assorted meat but apparently you people die for it
ONYEKA: When I hear "assorted meat", I think of roundabout (intestine), shaki (tripe), fuku (heart), beef, kpomo…you know, the good good.
NOK’s assorted meat was…let’s call it posh.
ONYEKA: A lot of beef, slivers of shaki and cow leg. Maybe other people got roundabout or kpomo, but not me. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of beef, and if my cowleg isn’t melt-in-the-mouth soft, then I stay far away. My beef was soft but there was too much, so I had a piece or 2. My cowleg was soft but not as soft as I would have liked so I cut a bit out of a piece and that was that. I had my 2 slivers of shaki and, to their credit, they were quite soft and nice. I’ll give them that.
But yahhh, that’s it.
ONYEKA: The piece de resistance, aka the amala, was really really nice, however.
JOLA: The texture of the amala was perfect, it was neither congealed, hard or super black. Amala is meant to be supremely soft, which is why I maintain that the best amala is made by old women with church aunty arms and less than 11 teeth.
ONYEKA: Hands down, one of the fluffiest amalas I’ve had outside my house. I lowkey wanted more amala (but with more ewedu in the stew – yes, I’m not letting this go) but that would have been an extra N3500 and it’s never ever that deep lol.
JOLA: Taste wise it wasn’t bad at all; I actually really enjoyed it.
Now, let me confess, I have a bit of an attitude when it comes to “fancy places” doing amala. I need a little grime, a few healthcare violations, a lot of rude women, and an immense lack of customer service. That guarantees great tasting amala… well most of the time (side eye White House). However, I must confess, Nok impressed me. The amala was really soft, stew had bit of a kick (and you know how yoruba women are about their pepper), and overall it tasted really good. The ewedu and gbegiri combo wasn't watery (trust me, it’s a thing) and the actual beef in the collection of assorted meat was soft and delicious (I didn't touch the rest because I deserve better).
ONYEKA: All in all, it was pretty okay if deconstructed, but for that price and for everything in general, I don’t think I’d be going to NOK again for this particular meal. If I could have the amala on its own though, I definitely would go back for more and more.
JOLA: At N3500, it’s pricey for amala but if you’ve got it and want to impress a few bougie friends I guess you should go for it. From this amala connoisseur it gets a thumbs up, and trust me, I know what I’m talking about.
Abula - N3500