Olaiya’s Amala: Soul Food We All Need
Olaiya Food Canteen
You know this unpopular thing people do online to Amala? Yes, the constant bashing of the elite dish needs to stop. And our bad habit of disapproving anything indigenous, makes me think that the blatant hate for the underdog – amala, is as a result of white supremacy. If you think I am wrong, find the nearest amala, look at it and lie to yourself that the reason you don’t like it is because of its colour.
Oh well, to the gist.
My friend, Nneka, and I went on this adventure because it’s been really hot and messy in Lagos recently. Amala’s fluffy and light texture makes it suitable in hot weather conditions. If you think I made this up, then experiment with fufu and amala on two separate days and let me know the outcome. One of its qualities, sauf a trimmer waistline, is its ability to make you feel light and classy even in the most tumultuous situation.
Since we are both serious connoisseurs of the dish, we decided to treat ourselves this long-holiday weekend by visiting one of Lagos’s popular joints. Olaiya Food Canteen is located in Surulere and on this special occasion, it took us just 29 minutes to get there from Lekki – the ancestors were indeed in our favour.
It wasn’t really a hassle to find Olaiya and maybe it was just that way because we were prepared for the worst. We arrived and got on a queue almost immediately. There was an immediacy that came with being at the restaurant – every five minutes there was a customer leaving and another sitting.
I also liked that I didn’t have to be fixated on a menu before ordering and then waiting for the meal. It was a swift buffet line that even had the POS machine at the other end. You pick your bowl, request how many wraps of amala you’d like (one wrap is equivalent to the size of one boiled egg btw), and you proceed to get your ewedu, gbegiri and stew.
(Ed Note: The portion size and the price hasn’t changed since our original review. Wild)
We had two variations – one with gbegiri and the other without.
I chose to not include gbegiri in mine because I’ve had bad experiences with the groundnut-like sauce overpowering my dish. The stellar component in Olaiya’s is by far the stew. And that’s why it sucked that there was limited stew and ewedu. It had a freshness and smokiness that only buka style food can give – if only there was more.
I typically love everything served in one plate as my spoon glides in and scoops balls of amala. I also love dissecting the assorted meat the only way I know how to – with my bare hands. The most appealing thing about Amala is usually the feeling you get after. It’s like you never ate but then you also can’t move too much. It’s the weirdest thing to explain.
Nneka’s soup had gbegiri and at first I heard her complain it looked a bit watery, I remember sighing in relief. But boyyyy, was I wrong.
This was a better version than mine. I particularly loved how loosened up the gbegiri was, the problem I usually have with other amala joints is how thick the sauce is. Olaiya’s texture wasn’t heavily concentrated and that in my opinion is how you balance a complex dish. It accompanied the stew, ewedu and amala really well and created this amazing palate that I have never tasted before.
I have decided to plan a trip in the near future to have all the gbegiri in the world, you probably should too.
Amala - N100 each wrap
Beef - N100
Shaki (Tripe) - N100
Goat Meat - N600
There’s street parking, but you have to pay a small fee