NOSA: The biggest knock on dining out in the Lagos mainland isn’t the lack of options per se. They exist, bountiful even.
FOLLY: The mainland doesn't have many fancy restaurants (outside of hotels) but they do have a lot of 'just there' establishments.
NOSA:The real struggle is the options fall short when it comes to quality and when they don’t, they lean heavily on the buka side. Bukas are great, but they have their place.
This brings us to Gypsy's, a cute little hard-to-find Indian/Chinese restaurant in Ilupeju. When you walk in, it feels like you’ve accidentally stumbled on a restaurant that has been intentionally hidden. Bar the waitstaff, we were probably the only Nigerians (read: black people) in there.
FOLLY: Ilupeju has a huge Indian population so that kind of explains a lot of that. Why the huge population exists in Ilupeju? That, I don't quite know. Maybe it's the proximity to the industrial area and factories?
NOSA: It was very reminiscent of our first visit to My Coffee being the only Nigerians in a space. It’s interesting how a restaurant unknown to the larger population could be so popping.
FOLLY: They were probably wondering how we found it.
NOSA: There’s probably something to be said about niche markets and enclaves, but I’m not too smart to make the connection.
FOLLY: If you know the explanation for the Indian population in Ilupeju, please explain to us. For now, we'll focus on the food.
NOSA: A fancier person might say the menu at Gypsy's is Pan-Asian. I’m usually wary of restaurants with menus span a couple specific regions so I stuck with Indian side of things. I mean, if the Chinese was that great, it wouldn’t have so many Indian people and no Chinese people in there. There’s a method to do the madness.
FOLLY: And I naturally decided to wander into the Chinese section because a lot of Indian food is made with dairy and I'm lactose intolerant.
NOSA: I started with the Vegetable Samosa and finished off with the Chicken Tikka Masala and a side of Garlic Naan.
FOLLY: The garlic naan was fabulous. I'm the type of person that doesn't really care about garlic breath and I absolutely love the bold flavour it adds to food. I loved how the naan also had bits of roasted garlic. With roasting, the flavours become a bit milder which also makes it more accessible to more people who don't really like the punch that it packs.
NOSA: Chicken Tikka Masala is probably the most basic of all the Indian dishes one can try. It’s like ordering a California Roll when getting sushi or Jollof Rice when getting Nigerian food. You could even argue that it’s not even authentic Indian food because you rarely find it in an Indian household like General Tso’s in a Chinese one. But the heart what the heart wants, Tikka Masala is comfort food abeg. Shoutout to the Southeast Asian brother in England that invented it.
FOLLY: Butter Chicken > Tikka Masala in terms of comfort food levels though
NOSA: The Chicken Tikka at Gypsy's is incredibly delicious. I haven’t had it in a while in Lagos so maybe this has affected my perspective, but I can’t remember having any better in this city. A shame they had no cheese naan but the garlic naan did a good enough job. One observation that I kept making with each plate was that Gypsy's had ridiculously large portions for the price. Folly and I could’ve easily split my order without being dissatisfied.
FOLLY: I can't believe the waiter didn't warn us and let us order all that food.
NOSA: Folly went all Chinese with her order: starting with the Sesame Rolls and ending with the Fried Vermicelli in Singapore Style and Chopped Ribs with Black Bean Sauce on Hot Plate as her main.
FOLLY: The Sesame Rolls on the inside are a very thin layered flatbread. It's served warm so when you break it open, the trapped steam greets you lovingly. I'm convinced everyone loves warm bread.
NOSA: I expected the sesame pockets to be a lot smaller portion-wise. They definitely surprised me. We went with the chicken option for our sesame pockets, aka Shaobing.
FOLLY: You're expected to scoop the chicken into the sesame pocket and excuse me for being pedestrian here, and make a "chinese shawarma". I was perfectly fine with the sesame pockets on its own and a lot of the chicken filling went un eaten as a result.
NOSA: Sesame pockets aside, I thought the Chinese side of the menu was pretty weak. The short ribs, in particular, were waaaay too salty.
FOLLY: Bruh, the salt in this even seemed to 'develop' more overnight because the leftovers were unbearable. However, if you're able to make it past the salt, you get all the normal trappings of Chinese cuisine: ginger, sweet peppers, garlic, and onion.
NOSA: The Singapore noodles were a tad better.
FOLLY: Although still salty though.
NOSA: Those short ribs were unforgivable. I get so giddy when I find really good restaurants in Lagos, especially when they’re on the mainland. Gypsy's is perfect for post-church lunch.
FOLLY: I was pretty disappointed that I didn't get the try the Nutella Spring Rolls they had on their dessert menu as we were pretty full from just two courses. This simply means I have to go back.
NOSA: I really liked Gypsy's despite my complaints about the Chinese. The sesame pockets are a must.
FOLLY: It's an excellent hidden gem in the heart of Ilupeju. More people need to know about it.
Garlic Naan - N500
Sesame Pocket - N3500
Vegetable Samosa - N1900
Chicken Tikka Masala - N2700
Fried Vermicelli in Singapore Style - N4000
Chopped Ribs with Black Bean Sauce on Hot Plate - N4000
The parking was more than I'd expected with proper off street parking for 6 - 8 cars.