Posts in Street Food
Searching For The Best Shawarma in Lagos II: Shawarma Express & Murphis Place

We’re still looking for the best shawarma in Lagos. Nosa & Folly gave up on their journey five years ago, but Denise and I have picked it up. Last week, we checked out Rich Shawarma and 01 Shawarma. This week, we take our adventures to Victoria Island.


Shawarma Express

Adeola Hopewell, Victoria Island

DENISE: Tobi and I had a very hard time locating Shawarma Express. We went in a circle from Adeola Hopewell to Sanusi Fafunwa maybe three times before we finally found it - it’s in Law School.

TOBI: It is literally a small kiosk beside a giant tree just inside the law school gate. The seating area was not very nice either. It was smelly and the generator was right beside us which also made it noisy. 

DENISE: I really did not expect Shawarma Express to be right inside Law School. I wish they had some signage or anything that indicated it because that would’ve saved Tobi and I a couple of roundtrips.

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Anyway, we decided to have vegetarian shawarma but something on the menu struck me; they had vegetarian shawarma with sausages. Now I know that there are types of vegetarianism but I don’t think that sausages are part of the meal options for any kind of vegetarians. This was a pretty good laugh for Tobi and I.

TOBI: It was entertaining. Vegetarian Shawarma with sausages? They should have just sat there and eaten their food, to be honest. Denise and I decided to have the vegetarian option (without the sausages, mind you) because it’s probably the only place with that kind of option. 

It was a mistake. 

DENISE: I didn’t enjoy this. First of all, the wrap overdosed on the pepper. Usually, I don’t mind but this was a bit too much for me to handle. Genuinely felt like I was eating a pepper salad and not a vegetarian shawarma.

I could’ve sworn I tasted Ugwu a couple of times too. I couldn’t finish this one. Vegetarian shawarma does not work in my opinion.

TOBI: She’s absolutely correct. It was too spicy, there was no thought put into it. There could have been some vegetarian alternative to meat in the wrap, and not just coleslaw with pepper as dressing. But, maybe I am asking for too much from people who use sausage in a vegetarian option. The only good thing about this shawarma was the pita, which was well toasted and crisp.

Damage

Vegetarian Shawarma - N1200

 

Verdict

⭐️

 

Murphis Place

Sanusi Fafunwa, Victoria Island

DENISE: The weather had picked up by the time we got some Murphis! At the stand, they had a comfortable seating area — which was also air-conditioned. Yay!

Murphis tagline is ‘the best shawarma on the island’. When Tobi and I saw that, we smirked a little. We’ll see.

TOBI: Yeah, it wasn’t the best Shawarma I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t like the vegetarian one from Shawarma Express either. It was pretty forgettable, I’d say. 

[Ed Note: Folly once called this the best shawarma in Lagos]

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Or maybe I was just really full at that point. It was wrapped in glossy paper, which smelt weird because they had printed their name all over it. The pita was a little burnt as well. I do like the fact that they asked us what level of spice we wanted, which was good. 

DENISE: My favourite thing about the shawarma was how neatly packaged it was. It did have a weird smell which I guess was from printing but it didn’t get soggy like the others we’d witnessed earlier on. No drip, no soil. 

On the shawarma, I kept getting hints of pepper soup in it like they used pepper soup spice in it or something.  I mean, it worked for me but I’m still wondering why it even happened in the first place.

Unlike Tobi, I thought the shawarma was pretty great and I may consider coming back for seconds.

Damage

Chicken Shawarma - N1800

 

Verdict

⭐️⭐️⭐️


If you have any shawarma spots that we MUST check out, drop a line in the comments

Searching For The Best Shawarma in Lagos I

We really don’t talk enough about Shawarma on this website. It is easily one of my favourite street food and I bet it is the same for many (cultured) Lagosians would agree.

Fun Fact: “Shawarma” literally means “turning” in Arabic and “turning” here refers to the method of preparation where stacks of meat - usually chicken- are rotated slowly and shaved off as it cooks. You know those fancy contraptions at shawarma joints? Yup, that thing.

After the “Dolapo Shawarma” incident on Twitter (I know, I know, I live on Twitter okay?), I decided to go on a journey to find obscure shawarma spots in Lagos with the help of my G, Denise.


Rich Shawarma

Agungi, Lekki.

DENISE: Our Shawarma sojourn started out pretty nicely. The ambience and aesthetics weren’t bad at all.

[Ed Note: Is anyone looking for aesthetic at a shawarma spot?]

I am particularly glad they had a seating area because the weather was absurd that day.

TOBI: It was raining cats and dogs, lions and wolves. When we finally ordered, we decided to have the Chicken shawarma with one sausage. It didn’t take long at all, but the waiter mixed up our order, which was really weird to me as we were literally his only customers.

DENISE: We asked for chicken Shawarma but we got beef instead. This alone takes about 1,000 brownie points away from him. On the bright side, the shawarma was actually really good. Flavours and meats were discernible, the dressing was just right and the hotdog didn’t stop halfway through the roll. I’d definitely consider getting shawarma here again.

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TOBI: Yes, what she said. I enjoyed this shawarma. It was well favoured, well wrapped, with just the right amount of sauce and spice.

On a very random note, Rich Shawarma wraps their shawarma the only people who used aluminium foil for wrapping.

Damage

Chicken (well, it was actually beef) Shawarma - N1500

 

Verdict

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

01 Shawarma

Agungi, Lekki

DENISE: There was no seating area!

Usually, I wouldn’t be bothered about sitting areas but now that Lagos belongs to Poseidon, one must be wary of water! We had to stand in the rain to get the shawarma.

TOBI: 01 Shawarma is on the same street as Rich Shawarma, but the food is made in a tiny cubicle off a supermarket. And as Denise said, there was no seating area and we were *almost* standing in the rain.

They offer quite a number of options for shawarma and we decided to have a mixed wrap - chicken, beef and sausage. The flavours were distinct and so were the textures.

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DENISE: Well I can’t excuse being kept out in the rain, I must say that this Shawarma was pretty good. We had a mixed wrap and I loved how the flavours didn’t overwhelm each other.

TOBI: I liked that the wrap was a lot more crispy than the first one we had. It tasted familiar, took me back to the first time I had shawarma. It felt like a warm, favourite blanket. It was a little too spicy though, even for a Yoruba girl like me.

DENISE: The meats in it were pretty distinct. You could notice the smokiness of the chicken as well as the chewy texture of the meat.

One thing I didn’t like however was the packaging. The dressing kept on seeping through the packaging and that ended up soiling my trousers.

TOBI: Yes, this part was quite off-putting. The wrap was paper, and the sauce spilled through and it was just a mess. I think foil should be every shawarma guy’s go-to for packaging.

 

Damage

Mixed Shawarma - N1350

 

Verdict

⭐️⭐️⭐️


If you have any shawarma spots that we MUST check out, drop a line in the comments

Kiss Noodle Injects Delight Into The Palms' Food Court
 

NOSA: Chinese food is one of the most fascinating things I’ve personally encountered. Especially the regional interpretations of it. Like, how Chinese food in America is slightly different from Chinese food in Nigeria. From General Tso’s Chicken in America to Ramen and Gyoza in Japan, there’s a lot to be written about the migration of Chinese people and how well they adapt (and influence local cuisine) when they migrate. When we visited Accra last year, one of the local food bloggers told us how Chinese fried rice was so popular that Ghanaians have co-opted it as their thing.

FOLLY: One of the ways you can see how big Chinese food is a thing here in Nigeria is at our celebrations. At events, you’re often offered the Nigerian menu as well as a Continental or Oriental menu. The oriental menu usually has adapted Nigerian favourites like glass noodles, sweet and sour chicken, curry shredded beef etc. More could be said about this in a broader discussion about that, which this is not.

NOSA: Noodles (read: Indomie) are really popular in Nigeria and it’s a bit strange that Ramen Shops or Noodle Bars haven’t really exploded here. Actually, maybe it’s not that strange, I can’t really see Nigerians getting into soup noodles to be honest. Indomie “Bars” are definitely a thing, however, but that’s an off topic discussion for another day. Kiss Noodle is very much in the Ramen Shop mould and it’ll be interesting to see how well they do in Lagos. 

FOLLY: Noodle shops that Nosa would go to have not exploded here, but street food stands that deal in Indomie and egg exclusively, are popular in areas that I frequent in Lagos. I’ve seen quite a few on street corners in Lekki, Victoria Island, and Yaba. It’s usually just a wooden table covered with a table cloth or tarp - then they have a crate of eggs and the Indomie variants stacked on the table.

FOLLY: Enough of the backstory though, we checked out Kiss Noodles in Palms a few weeks ago. We came to know about it through one of our chef friends.

NOSA: I’m not the biggest fan of the location. Like, I see how it could work in a mall’s food court but I absolutely hate it because I hate The Palms with a passion. Noodles are a very intimate thing so having random men come sit  on your table with your face in a bowl of noodles is not the vibe. Oh, and if the name didn’t give it away, the menu is full on noodles. There’s a sprinkling of Nigerian Chinese in there to keep it accessible. 

FOLLY: They also have a Nigerian team member at the front desk too, in order to keep things accessible in that regard as well because there is a SIGNIFICANT language barrier with the international staff.

NOSA: Because Folly and I like to pretend we’re not Philistines, we avoided the accessible stuff and went all in. We got the Braised Beef Noodles Soup and Shanxi Fried Sliced Noodles, with a side of dumplings.  

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NOSA: For a mall food court, it’s a bit on the pricey side. Sounds a bit rich saying that with Debonairs around the corner, but I’m sticking with it. Nothing in a food court should cost over N2000. If you have to make portions smaller, then so be it. Once you start pricing things at N4000, then I full expect a waiter and proper table service. 

FOLLY: I was surprised about the prices too but I was really excited about the food so I didn’t focus on the prices at all.

NOSA: I really like dumplings and they’re pretty hard to mess up so it’s easy to easy to see why I ordered it. As expected, they didn’t let me down one bit. I still haven’t figured out how eat soup dumplings with chopsticks. That’s the one skill I really want to acquire this year. 

FOLLY: The dumplings were confusing to me because we had three different kinds in one bowl - pork, meat, chicken. I’m not really big on steamed dumplings and I prefer pan fried too so this wasn’t really a winner for me - based on personal preference.

NOSA: I’m not really big on soup noodles so I ate more of the flat noodles, which looked more interesting when they were being made than when I actually ate the thing. Watching the guy make the noodles from scratch makes a great Boomerang, by the way.

FOLLY: The flat noodles tasted oddly like bok choy. Okay, that’s not odd because there was bok choy in the noodles, I just didn’t expect it to taste overwhelmingly like Bok Choy considering the small amount of bok choy that was in the dish.

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On the soup noodles, it wasn’t similar to Pho at all - the flavour profile was really different (most noticeably there was no cilantro) and it wasn’t as fragrant. I repeat, if you’re expecting something similar to pho, this is not the one. it was okay in it’s own regard - 7/10.


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: It’s not, like, great GREAT but it’s good enough. And it’s also hard to find anything like this in Lagos so I’ll definitely come back.

FOLLY: When they have a proper space so I don’t have to deal with random men in my personal space who ask if I brought the table from my house and other questions.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Dumplings - N4000

Braised Beef Noodles Soup - N3500

Shanxi Fried Sliced Noodles - N3500

 

PARKING

It’s a mall so there is A LOT of parking, you just have to pay.

We Think We've Found the Best Shawarma in Lekki
 

NOSA: We haven’t been shawarma hunting in a really long while. Lucky for you guys, we ran through our budget for the month so cheap eats suddenly entered our radar.

FOLLY: Shawarma's in Lekki are plentiful so one has to be very sceptical. 

NOSA: Meat Up is one place I’ve been hearing about a lot. First, we got a DM telling us to check out the shawarma at Entourage Mall. These Lekki “malls” put me off so I wasn’t really enthused to give it a shot. I put it on our schedule, but like, wayyyy at the bottom.

FOLLY: I'd only heard about from one person. It was a random tweet I scrolled past. 

NOSA: Then, Jola mentioned it. As an OG friend of the blog, we really trust Jola’s taste. At this point, I might have bumped it a little bit on the schedule, but the thought of blowing our entire budget on Shiro dim sum seemed more appealing so Meat Up didn’t get bumped up THAT much.

FOLLY: For the most part Nosa has the food eating schedule down pat. I usually will go most places he says we should go except the odd time when I put my foot down and say "not happening".

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NOSA: Anyway, with our review budget looking real funny in the middle of the month, my coworker mentioned this “new shawarma place” that I just had to try. Turns out it was Meat Up again. I guess we had to check it out at this point.

We ordered a chicken shawarma, with no “hot dog” and little light on the pepper, and the grilled turkey.

FOLLY: But the attendant decided we couldn't have possibly known what we were doing and proceeded to put not one, but TWO sausages in the shawarma. 

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NOSA:  Now, I don’t have a problem with this, but Folly does and we were splitting the shawarma. If you, like Folly, are very averse to pepper, you might have to pull those dudes by the ear and make sure they get your order right.

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The shawarma, itself, was a delight. Absolutely loved it. Top 5 in Lagos, or maybe just Lekki, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, Top 2 and it’s not 2. That’s how good I think it is.

FOLLY: Personally, I felt the shawarma was alright. The sausage really threw me off because I've always prided myself on not being a Philistine so this was my first taste.

NOSA: Shawarma without sausage is joke stuff abeg.

Anyway, I must add that it lacks a bit of structural integrity so this is not the shawarma you want to order for date night. You need to devour this one in the privacy of your home.

Before i forget about it, the turkey was pretty good as well.

FOLLY: The turkey was too hard but take my opinion with a grain of salt cause I only had one bite.

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NOSA: It’s very hard to mess grilled turkey up and these guys didn’t. Actually no, it's easy to mess up turkey. I've had some terrible grilled turkeys in my lifetime now that I think about it.

 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I'll definitely get the shawarma again.

And again.

And again.

FOLLY: Just one again for me, for now. Let me re-evaluate without those nasty hot dogs.

 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Shawarma - N1500

Turkey & Yam - N1600

 

PARKING

Like, 3 or 4 spots.

Eko Street Eats is a Triumph of Fun Over Tradition

NOSA: About a year ago, Imoteda and Ramon had this pretty genius idea of making Nigerian street food a lot more fun. That’s how Eko Street Eats was born. A couple of pop ups here and there, and it was gone. Gist has it that Ramon had to leave the country for a while and without the other half of the project, it couldn’t really go on.

FOLLY: Not really gist because it was part of his bio for the exhibition. 

NOSA: Until last Saturday, that is. Ramon has to go away again, but for one afternoon, we got it back.

FOLLY: He does? That's sad :( 

NOSA: The menu was pretty straight forward. Just six items only and in typical EDL fashion, Folly and I ordered everything.

FOLLY: Twice, but that's cause we were being greedy tbh. 

NOSA: My favorite of the lot was the Pyam (Lightly fried pounded yam balls). Probably the Bini in me coming out, but it was oh so delicious.

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FOLLY: That reference is lost on me. Is there a thing about people from Benin liking yam? Either way, it was my favorite too. I don't know how she (Chef Imoteda) did it but the pounded yam didn't have a single lump in it, smooth to perfection. 

NOSA: The Yaji Shrimp Tacos were great too, but they didn’t “get me” like the pyam did.

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FOLLY: Yeah, I would have appreciate more suya spice on this. I don't usually like a whole of heat but that's what I was expecting. Next up was the PB-J which is plantain cubes served with peanut butter paste and zobo jam. 

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NOSA: Also, I know a lot of you are thinking it, but the PB&J wasn’t bad. Bananas and peanut butter are a thing, so I don’t understand how everyone thinks it won’t work with plantain.

FOLLY: Nosa is lying, this was a big fat NO from me and he knows it. Peanut butter has no place on or served with plantain so this was a bit of a sacrilege if you ask me. And yes you're asking me because you're on my blog. 

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NOSA: The corn on the cob didn’t really work for me. It was ambitious and I saw the vision, but the execution just fell short. That one might need to go back to the drawing board.

FOLLY: I ate around the wara because for some reason I just wasn't interested in it. For the uninitiated, wara is local cheese curd. Ultimately, my favorite thing was the puff-puff funnel cake. I love puff, dessert, and funnel cake so naturally this was magic to me. The mango sauce was also a perfect accompaniment.

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NOSA: At the end of day, however, this goes beyond what works and what doesn’t. The true achievement of ESE isn’t the food. I mean, the food matters, but what really matters here is how open the chefs are to experimenting. ESE is proof of concept on how versatile and exciting typical Nigerian food can be. The diversity of our flavours shouldn’t be restricted to “traditional” items. Nigerian food should be fun. Now, we just need Ramon to come back so we can get another popup going.

FOLLY: So again, this was a pop-up so there's no address and phone number. We have no idea when next they'll be having another one but you can check out their Instagram page here for updates.