Posts tagged ikeja
Korean BBQ in Ikeja GRA
 

NOSA: I added Hua Han to our the list sometime last year, but we never actually got round to it. The List is basically a never-ending list of restaurants we plan to visit. Yup, it is a thing that exists. The secret is out!

Anyway… Afrolems visited Hua Han and shared it on her instagram story, which brought it back to mind so we decided to check it out over the weekend.

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FOLLY: Walking into Hua Han Garden reminded me of my experience at Orchid House.

NOSA: Hua Han is like a little Korea (or maybe China) hidden in Ikeja GRA. You literally have to pop in some “dark alley” to find the place. The address says Sobo Arobiodu Street, but it’s really on Sasegbon Street. Or off it, at least. 

FOLLY: On entry, there is a lot of Asian decor and elements that immediately confirms to you that this is the real deal. You also walk past the fridges stocked full with Chinese beverages including the iced tea which I ordered. Then you open the menu and there aren’t even English translations for everything, at this point I was confident I was about to get an authentic experience.

NOSA: Sauf the drink menu, you get menus: Korean and Chinese. Chinese is boring so we opted for the Korean. You should, too, if you end up going there. With Korean BBQ, you basically select your meats off the menu and grill it yourself on the table. Optimizing for Nigeria, Hua Han has a waiter help you with it. It’s like what Grills In n’ Out tried and failed to do some years ago. It’s perfect if you have a big group and you guys can try a whole bunch of stuff. 

FOLLY: Nosa always tells this story about the first time his siblings took his dad to a restaurant like this where you “cook” your own food.

NOSA: So I’m not going to tell it again…

FOLLY: Wow okay, For our Korean Barbecue experience, I took the reigns of ordering and we got:

  • Roast Beef Korean Style

  • South Korea Imported Boutique Pork

  • Baked Steamed Bread

  • Korean Fried Chicken

  • Steamed Bok Choy

Roast Beef Korean Style

Roast Beef Korean Style

Roast Beef Korean Style

Roast Beef Korean Style

NOSA: I really really wanted to start off with some dumplings, but they had none. Only chicken spring rolls were available. Perhaps they optimised for Nigeria a bit too much by adding the “menu item not available in real life” option. 

FOLLY: Of the two meats, the Roast Beef Korean Style was my favourite…

NOSA: Same.

FOLLY: … because the raw meat arrived seasoned and so naturally tasted better when cooked. The taste profile of this was very swalty. The marinade probably had sugar in it that crystallised when it was cooked.

NOSA: Thin cut excellence and marinated to perfection. 

South Korea Imported Boutique Pork

South Korea Imported Boutique Pork

NOSA: The Boutique Pork was a bit blander than the roast beef, but I guess that’s by design. Not a fan, but I respect it.

FOLLY: I also found the pork to be bland, bland, and more bland. It tasted much better when dipped in the sauces and spices we were also served as condiments.

NOSA: It’s a very fatty cut and perfect with the sweet & sour sauce you get on the side. 

South Korea Imported Boutique Pork

South Korea Imported Boutique Pork

FOLLY: Bok Choy is a leafy vegetable that very common in South Asian menus. It typically will take on the taste of whatever it’s cooked in but it also tend to have a faintly bitter taste. The bitterness was mostly removed by sautéing in garlic but I still could taste the very light bitterness but that’s normal tbh.

Bok Choy

Bok Choy

FOLLY: Korean Fried Chicken is a popular street food which is fried very crispy and then coated in a variety of sweet/spicy but always sticky glazed sauce.

NOSA: The one at Hua Han reminded me a lot of mall Chinese and I loved mall Chinese when I was a proper fat ass. I could inhale a General Tso’s portion in seconds. 

FOLLY: In Los Angeles last year, we checked out the Ganjung - what was nice about that experience was that there were a number of sauce options to choose from.

NOSA: Actually, now that I think about it some more, it did taste a lot like the Ganjung chicken we had in LA and that is probably a better parallel since they’re both Korean Fried Chicken.

Korean Fried Chicken

Korean Fried Chicken

FOLLY: Hua Han’s version comes with a default sweet and sour sauce. Their version of Korean Fried Chicken slaps - very tasty crispy balls of chicken. 10/10, I highly recommend.

It won’t go well with rice so please don’t report back and say you ordered it with rice and it was weird. Just eat this on its own as it is, and if you must, wrap in the lettuce that’s served with the meats to make a lettuce chicken wrap.

 

POSTCRIPT

NOSA: I really loved Hua Han and if it wasn’t so far away, I’d check it out more frequently. If you live in the area, you should definitely do it for Sunday lunch. 

FOLLY: The waiter seemed a bit angry sha. I think he was surprised we went with the Korean food.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Bok Choy - N2400

Steamed Bread - N1500

Korean Fried Chicken - N4500

Roast Beef Korean Style - N7600

South Korea Imported Boutique Pork - N5800

 

PARKING

It’s not plenty like that lol. Maybe 3/4 cars

American-style BBQ in the Secretariat
 

NOSA: In a June 2009 TimeOut London review, Rhodes BBQ Smokehouse got described as spot with “…excellent meats and broad ambition”. A little over nine years later, much hasn’t changed beyond the location. The Wapping location has since shut up shop and Rhodes has reappeared in Ikeja. Even the relocation bears some similarities.  According to the the TimeOut review, “only the Wapping location might prevent it from reaching a wide and appreciative location” and that’s exactly what I thought when we struggled to find parking. 

FOLLY: Maybe the best things aren’t meant to be too main stream. You could also say the same could be said of BBQ & Cravings

NOSA: We visited with a couple of friends, including our official “face” of Eat.Drink.Lagos lol, so we went all out with the menu. Wicked Wings, Buffalo Drums, BBQ Pulled Pork and BBQ Chopped Beef sandwiches, a slab of the St. Louis Style Ribs and a BBQ Quarter Chicken. Yup, we went all the way out. The waitress had to double check on the order because it sounded like a lot of food.

FOLLY: She was trying to get us to order the platter but that was a hard pass from us because it’ll have meant a half portion of the ribs.

NOSA: “Sounded” because we still wanted more at the end of it all lol. 

FOLLY: I even tried to order dessert but they didn’t have my first choice

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NOSA: The wicked wings set the bar really high for the rest of the meal. Tender and flavorful, the thing damn near melts in your mouth. If this how all chicken tasted, I probably wouldn’t be having chicken fatigue right now. Tender chicken seemed to be the running theme at Rhodes because even the Buffalo drums were quality.

FOLLY: A shame that I didn’t try the wicked wings because I was saving myself for the tender drums and everyone said the wicked wings were better.

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NOSA: I probably should’ve passed on the chopped beef sandwich, but I saw “brisket” and I got distracted. For all the “bbq & grills” joints we have in Lagos, none of them have brisket on the menu. It’s not a Nigerian “thing”, which is fair, but it just explains why I wasted carbs on the chopped beef sandwich.

FOLLY: Barely eating carbs at Rhodes was likely the reason why we didn’t feel so stuffed at the end of the meal.

NOSA: The sandwich wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t worth the space in my stomach. If you visit Rhodes, don’t let the menu distract you. Stay focused. Order the meats. 

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NOSA: Speaking of Nigerian “things”, I have since accepted that Nigerian-style BBQ is a thing. Unfortunately, we don’t have culinary scholars that document these things. For all the shade I throw at “grills” joints, they offer what I have termed “Nigerian-style BBQ”. It often goes heavy on the pepper and eschews tenderness as a metric to assess quality. I have clear philosophical differences with it, but now as a proper grown up, I’ve come to accept it has its place and understand how it fits the local palette. What I philosophically agree with though are the ribs at Rhodes. 

FOLLY: I also philosophically agree with the sauce on the ribs at Rhodes. We were tearing the meat off the bones and using it to scrape the sauce of the plates.

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NOSA: St. Louis style ribs are more about the butcher cut than the actual grilling technique or flavor. Unlike other rib cuts, the brisket and rib tips are trimmed off and this leaves you with a shorter rib. If anything, it shares a slightly similar sweet tomato-based sauce with the Kansas City style, which makes sense because the two cities are like an hour apart. 

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NOSA: The ribs at Rhodes could’ve been a side more tender, but I was a fan nonetheless. Probably because of the sauce. We cleaned that plate with almost everything we could find, including the quarter chicken. The quarter chicken, itself, was a bit disappointing. It had none of the tenderness of the wings and the drums. It was bit tedious to get through, in fact. Without the sauce from the ribs, we’d have left that chicken behind.

FOLLY: Yeah, the chicken stayed perched on the plate till we ran out of ribs and needed another meat with which to clean the sauce of the plate.

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NOSA: What definitely didn’t disappoint me were the sides.

FOLLY: The portion did disappoint me but I assume (and hope) that was because it was the complimentary side portion.

NOSA: Between the BBQ beans and the potato salad, I don’t think I’ve tasted a more delicious side this year. Many have tried, but not have come close. The BBQ Beans were particularly excellent and on another day, I might have asked for seconds. 


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: It’s a drive away, but it’s worth the trip. It’s not a trip I’d make often, but it’s a trip you must make once. That is, if you live on the island. If you live in the Ikeja area, you should be there every Sunday.

FOLLY: Honorable mention to the iced tea at Rhodes BBQ. Don’t expect it to be sweet sha, it’s not that type of iced tea.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Wicked Wings - N2600

Buffalo Drums - N2800

BBQ Chopped Beef Sandwich - N2600

St. Louis Stye Ribs (Slab) - N6900

BBQ Quarter Chicken - N2400

 

PARKING

Very limited 

Casper & Gambini's Refreshed
 

FOLLY: We headed to Ikeja City Mall to check out the new Krispy Kreme and a Mexican Caribbean restaurant that a follower had sent us a tip about. Krispy Kreme was delightful and we finally got to try the non-glaze varieties. The Mexican Carribean restaurant was a different story. 

NOSA: They had efo in a "showcase". 

FOLLY: Off to Casper & Gambini's we went cause #notaboutthatlife

NOSA: This was my first time at the Ikeja C&G location so I was really curious to see there was a drop off in quality compared to the VI location

Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato Basil Soup

FOLLY: If you've ever been to Panera in the US, you'd be familiar with their soup + 1/2 sandwich or salad deal. 

NOSA: Speaking of soup + sandwich combos, one summer in college, my flatmate and I ate tomato basil soup and a grilled cheese for dinner almost every night. Until the Nigerian girl I was dating at the time came into our lives and ruined everything by cooking rice all the time. 

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NOSA: The Tomato Basil Soup is one of my go-to orders at Casper & Gambini's. It's very "hearty" and if I'm being honest, it's worthy of an entire meal. I'll admit, though, that it's not for everyone. It's not as rich as typical Nigerian "soups" so you might need to manage expectations if it's your first experience. 

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FOLLY: I saw the Asian Sesame Salad on the Casper & Gambini's Instagram page as a new item so naturally I wanted to try it. It looked exactly as it did on their Instagram so they weren't lying. 

My favorite components in the salad were the ginger, chicken, and the chin chin. 

NOSA: Was that chin chin?

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FOLLY: Eating this made me realize that I hate spinach in salads, I'm not sure the technical way to describe this but it's a bit harsh (to taste when it's raw) and just too green. I'd have preferred if the base was just plain ole lettuce or Arugula but that won't have made it typically Asian. 

NOSA: Arugula and kale are the ultimate salad greens for me.

Arugula especially.

It's such a massive shame that salads in Lagos are so disappointing for the most part. Most restaurants put very little effort into their salads. C&G does a decent job, however. 

FOLLY: Now moving on to the sandwich. First of all, for those that are wondering that brown mess atop the chicken salad filling is caramelized onions. Yes, they made the sandwich so unattractive but they added a much needed sweetness to it.

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FOLLY: I had the slide that big leaf out of the way cause the taste was too harsh (again). The bread was also over toasted but that was not a big deal. 

NOSA: It's not a big deal if having the roof of your mouth ripped apart is fine. It's looks great in the picture, but it wasn't the most ideal.

ALSO, I expected the chicken salad to have a bit of a sweet kick, but that never came. The onions gave it their best shot, but it didn't quite satisfy my expectations.

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FOLLY: I feel like a lot of Lagosians don't know this but Casper & Gambini's has a nice range of sandwiches - get hip. 

 

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: I don't go to Casper & Gambini's a lot but I like that it's consistent. I recommend it a lot for work functions because the price point isn't too steep and everyone is guaranteed to find something they'd like on the menu. 

NOSA: Would definitely visit again. C&G is what Cactus used to be. That consistency is unreal.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Tomato Basil Soup - N3000

Farmhouse Chicken - N4200

Asian Sesame Chicken - N4700

 

PARKING

Being located in Ikeja City Mall guarantees an abundance of parking, you just have to pay for it and walk a distance 

Shades of Shake Shack in Burg
 

NOSA: I noticed Burg.co when a couple of people on our Twitter timeline were having little debate about Burg blatantly ripping off Shake Shack. Naturally, I had to check the place out and find out for myself.

Stylistic similarities

Stylistic similarities

FOLLY: It's funny cause some people were arguing that it's not similar at all. You have to be blind or a cold faced liar.

NOSA: You’d be a liar if you say Burg.co doesn’t take a lot from Shake Shack. It might not be an outright ripoff, but you can see Burg’s aesthetic is clearly inspired by the American brand. It’s a bit like that Lolavita store in Lekki and Sephora. Personally, I have no strong feelings towards it, but I did find it very strange that a couple Twitter users vehemently denied any similarities between the brands.

FOLLY: I have some strong feelings towards Nigerian brands being over-inspired by foreign brand because there's often the sentiment of "we're in Nigeria they'll never catch me"

NOSA: That said, the branding is fantastic and the space is even better.

FOLLY: The natural light is amazing and I didn't have to make one single edit to the pictures we took here. 

NOSA: The whole rustic thing they went for is very Instagram friendly. Don’t be surprised if Burg’s patio becomes the mainland version of the Backyard Swing.

Burg Spike

Burg Spike

NOSA: Burg.co is currently running with a very lean launch menu. Just a pair of burgers, a sub, the shakes, and soft serve. I went with a double Burg OG, while Folly went with a single Burg Spike.

FOLLY: The Burg Spike is a spicy burger loaded with jalapenos while the OG is their standard fare.

Our orders

Our orders

NOSA: I got Burg’s take on loaded fries, the Spiked Fries, while Folly got the regular.

Loaded no more

Loaded no more

NOSA: The loaded fries should have been served “horizontally”. In those little boats that Shake Shack uses, perhaps. Serving it like Burg did, meant all the “loadednesss” was restricted and the fries were a bit top heavy.

FOLLY: For example, BBQ & Cravings served theirs on a flat surface so the toppings were spread more broadly.

NOSA: This was further evidenced when Folly knocked my fries over and I lost all the good stuff.

FOLLY: If Burg is going to retain this serving style, they need to toss the fries in the topping before serving it into the paper cup. My friend ordered the same burger as I did, and hers had Cheetos in it and mine had none. I was pretty bummed that the kitchen left it out of mine because given how soft and SPICY (the jalapenos packed a mighty punch), I really wouldn't have minded some crunch from the Cheetos. 

Burg OG

Burg OG

NOSA: The burger wasn’t the most photogenic and it’s probably the only time judging a book by its cover yields positive results. Now, it’s not a shit burger. Far from it, actually. it’s just a middling burger. The cheese doesn’t just feel cheap, but it’s largely overwhelming. The bun is soft as a baby’s bum, but the patty is forgettable for the most part.

FOLLY: The cheese was sliced processed cheese and I have many feelings about that being in a N4500 burger. No Bueno.

Pink Lemonade & Oreo Milkshake

Pink Lemonade & Oreo Milkshake

NOSA: Given the context, i.e. we’re in Ikeja, this is a fantastic burger and while the price might cause you the raise the eyebrow, you aren’t going to find better in the area.

Now, if you expanded your radius a bit, you’ll find a better and similarly priced burger at Samantha’s Bistro and Temple Cottage

FOLLY: I mentally compared it to BBQ & Cravings throughout my meal and by the end, I was 100% BBQ & Cravings was by far better. 

NOSA: You’ll definitely find a cheaper and better burger at BBQ & Cravings. Spending between N3500-N5000 for a burger that comes with no sides is a bit insane. Johnny Rockets gets away with it because their burgers are huge. Burg, on the other hand, serves a regular-sized burger.

What’s really good, though, is the Oreo Milkshake. This one transcends geography and I’m not a milkshake person at all.

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Burg.co gets a “Like” from me, but this is greatly influenced by its location. If I lived in Ikeja or anywhere on the mainland, I’m coming here for the burger. But there’s no way in hell I’m driving from Ikoyi to Ikeja for this. Not like I would for BBQ & Cravings anyway.

FOLLY: I liked the space and the burger was good. I would have preferred it with fewer jalapenos and better cheese. The burg sauce was dope, I kept trying to use the bits that squeezed out as a dipping sauce for my fries. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Burg OG (Double) - N4500

Burg Spike - N4000

Spike Fries - N3000

Salt Fries - N2000

Pink Lemonade - N2500

Oreo Milkshake - N3000

 

PARKING

Decent off street parking lot available. 

Exploring the Continental Side of the Bungalow Menu
 

FOLLY: This past weekend, Nosa and I were in Ikeja for a meeting.

NOSA: Ikeja is apparently the next frontier in the Lagos restaurant business. Word on the street is that Bungalow and Rhapsody have been making killing in the area. Casper & Gambini have just set shop in Ikeja City Mall, perhaps we’ll see a couple more Island restaurants making the move.

FOLLY: It was over just about lunchtime and we were considering our options on Isaac John that we could also review.

NOSA: I think we’ve been to every relevant spot on Isaac John.

FOLLY: I suggested Jevenik, mostly as a joke, cause I knew Nosa wouldn’t go for it.

NOSA: Only way I’m going to Jevenik is if we go to an Indian restaurant in exchange.

FOLLY: No chance. If he had said yes I’d have been totally in though, as I really would like to see those monstrous portions I’ve only heard so much about.

We ultimately decided to continue our Bungalow adventure and explore another section of their menu this time.

NOSA: Why do people call it "Continental" anyway?

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NOSA: To start, I ordered us some Chicken Tenders and Garlic Bread (sans cheese)

FOLLY: I was on the phone (I know, I’m rude) so Nosa placed the order for the starters. The only ask I made was garlic bread because people often list Bungalow as one of the few places in Lagos where you can get it so I felt we should check it out.

NOSA: Neither starter was any good.

FOLLY: I don’t know how he managed to pick out these dry as hell chicken tenders out of a list of more appetizing looking and sounding stuff.

NOSA: The tenders looked very good on that iPad, in my defense.

FOLLY: The tenders were honestly as dry as they look.

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NOSA: Maybe dryer. The less said, the better.

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FOLLY: The baguette used for the garlic bread was stale.

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FOLLY: My main was a big gamble. It caught my eye on the menu and it didn't have cheese so I went for it. That's rolled chicken stuffed with spinach, mushroom, peppers etc.

NOSA: The picture lied.

FOLLY: And now you are. Nosa and I disagree on how good this was. He definitely doesn’t like but I’d say it was a 5/10 and when adjusted for the Lagos factor they’d get a boost of + 2 for a total of 7.

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NOSA: The chicken was sooooo dry

FOLLY: The chicken was not definitely memorable. I really liked the idea but the execution was flawed and the stuffing was desperately needing for flavor. The mash was inconsistent texture wise, a few clumps here and there but the taste was just as I like it.

NOSA: Yeah, I liked the mash despite its flaws.

FOLLY: The cream was not too heavy if there was any, and the butteriness won me over. The spinach, I ate only because of my eyesight - I think spinach is good for healthy eyes and hair.

Am I right? It was sautéed but I think they could have done a little to help with some seasoning in that regard.

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NOSA: I got the Penne Pesto as my main. The penne leaned on the soft side and the pesto was terribly underwhelming. Maybe I’ve been spoilt by La Mango, but this was a let down.

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It tasted like that one time I tried making penne pesto with cheap pesto sauce. The color was great, but the taste was far from it. In situations like this, you have to give your pesto some umph with your own spices because cheapo pesto sauce is getting you nowhere.

 

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I like Bungalow, but this Continental menu is not the one. Or maybe I’m harsh. It’ll work for a lot of people, but your palate is a bit more discerning, it isn’t for you.

FOLLY: The Mexican menu at Bungalow is wayyyy better. I also found the food to be more expensive than it's worth. My cocktail, the west Indian yellow something, was basically pineapple juice. 

 

VERDICT

DAMAGE

Garlic Bread- N2000

Pasta el Pesto - N6000

Chicken Tenders - N2800

Kiwi Caipiroshka - N2500

West Indian Yellow Bird - N2200

Stuffed Rolled Chicken - N6200

 

PARKING

 Good enough at lunch time but I'm sure it gets busy at night.