Posts in Restaurants
Endless Seafood at Shark Express
 

NOSA: Finding Shark Express might be a bit of a challenge (it was for us) because we didn’t see any signage and their instagram isn’t very clear on the location. That said, Eat.Drink.Lagos is for the people and we went around looking stupid before finding out it’s in the same space as Tilt Terrace. 

You’re welcome.

FOLLY: Funny cause Nosa said we should go in the direction of Tilt Terrace at first and I refused because “that’s another restaurant”.

NOSA: If you love seafood, the menu at Shark Express is as close to seafood heaven you’ll get. I can’t speak on how it all tastes, but on paper, it’s teeming with all sorts of sea pork.

FOLLY: A few Instagram posts had excited me.

NOSA: Between Folly and I, we split the Seafood Platter and the Jamaican Rice with Jerk Shrimp. 

FOLLY: I mean we tried to get a couple other things but we were promptly informed by our waiter that a lot of items were not available. I wasn’t satisfied with the service we received because we weren’t handed menus for about 5 minutes after our arrival because the waiter was on the phone. There were other wait staff around, but I think because we sat in the SharkHouse section, only that one guy could attend to us.

Seafood Platter

Seafood Platter

The food itself, also took a concerning amount of time to arrive. I could crack jokes about them going to catch the fish but I don’t think that’s it. I believe that the chef (who is only one person with no additional kitchen staff) was making each item on the platter one at a time and hence it took him over 40 minutes to finish up the 6 items.

NOSA: I wasn’t a big fan of Seafood Platter, or the overall wait time, either. This is definitely the last straw between crab and I also. Of all the animals of the sea, crabs are the biggest scam. Ridiculously expensive despite offering little. A bit like the platter in that regard, actually. There isn’t much to like about the platter. Maybe the fries get a pass, but I wasn’t a fan of anything else. 

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FOLLY: On the platter, I liked the corn the most and the prawns were a close second. The crab required too much effort and they didn’t give us the relevant equipment so I had a a couple crabs legs then gave up. The platter had a traditional flavour profile. It tasted like a Nigerian soup - think umami, salty, sour, smoky, spicy, Iru etc. Just imagine if you steeped sea food in the liquid from Efo Riro, Afang etc.

This is not a bad thing, just the first time I’d seen it done, as most restaurants in Lagos usually take the garlic, lemon, butter approach to seafood.

FOLLY: For the Jamaican rice and Jerk prawns. I don’t know what about the rice made it Jamaican inspired rice aside that it was brown (Jamaican rice and peas is often brown because of the use of brown rice or the addition of the spices)

Jamaican Rice with Jerk Shrimp

Jamaican Rice with Jerk Shrimp

NOSA: Nothing really stands out in the Jamaican rice. It’s just a lot of seasoning fighting for space in your mouth. 

FOLLY: It was most definitely well seasoned but without rhyme or reason.

 

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: Overall, it’s passable but not for me. Actually, I’m being honest I’d never go back here or recommend it to others.

NOSA: Yeah, I’ll probably never go back but I can see how some people might like it.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Seafood Platter - N10000

Jamaican Rice and Jerk Prawns - N5000

 

PARKING

Yes, mall parking available. Except it’s a Friday night then you might struggle .

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

More Chicken & Waffle Experiments at Craft Gourmet
 

Christina and I visited Craft Gourmet for a food and drink review so you should check out Christina’s piece for the full experience because it was pretty… interesting.

[Ed Note: Christina’s review for Drink Lagos should be up on Thursday]

We ordered three meals but got four - Chicken and Waffle Sandwich, Chicken Pesto Pasta, Dulce de Leche Pancakes and lastly, a bowl of Horrible Hospitality.

Just another Lagos brunch, I guess.

[Ed Note: Following Folarin’s review, I (read: Nosa) visited Craft Gourmet to check things for myself]

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The Chicken and Waffle Sandwich comes with chicken, bacon, mashed avocado and jalapeno peppers. Oh, and the Craft Gourmet toothpick flag to hold it together and reassure you that it’s not just any sandwich, but a Craft Gourmet sandwich that you’re eating.

As the waiter walked up to our table and I prayed against it being my order, all I could think of are those “What You Ordered VS What You Got” tweets we see after people have given their Ojuelegba tailors photos of world-class designs and asked them to replicate. For some odd reason, I still decided to give the meal the benefit of the doubt, thinking, “maybe it’s just how it looks. It probably tastes nice.”, but boy, was I wrong.

The waffles and all of its contents felt like someone ordered it earlier but cancelled, so they put it away and microwaved it when I placed my order. I’m actually 94.7% sure this was the case because the chicken fillets were just-been-microwaved kind of hot.

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The waffles were really hard, the avocado spread seemed to have dried up and the bacon was so hard that when I tapped it with my knife, it made a clanking sound like I was striking another metal.

Ok, maybe a minor exaggeration on the bacon. It was really tough, however.

My experience was a bit different. Waffle and the chicken tasted fresh, but the bacon was a little on the tough side like Folarin’s order. Also, very salty.

The problem with the Chicken & Waffle sandwich is that it just feels like a lot is going on. It works really well in some bites, if you catch the chilli jam, but not so much in other parts. The sandwich just doesn’t work. It doesn’t feel very practical. The elements are great individually, but fall apart as a whole
— Nosa

Not the best start to our brunch.

After trying the pesto at Casper & Gambini’s, La Veranda and Maison Kayser, I felt like we had to try Craft’s take with their Chicken Pesto Pasta. I ordered some extra bacon for good measure. The texture on the penne was the right shade of al dente - not too soft or hard. Thankfully, it didn’t have the green colouring like the one at La Veranda.

The dish was well spiced and not too creamy, generous with the proteins and tasted even nicer after we sprinkled the grated cheese we had neglected on it. Like the chicken and waffle sandwich, the bacon seemed a bit tough. Unlike the sandwich, I didn’t particularly mind it.

Chicken Pesto Pasta at Craft Gourmet

Overall, the chicken pesto pasta was decent but it’s not dislodging Casper & Gambini’s in my head.

I really liked the pasta, especially with the cheese, but I can’t rate how well it fares against other pesto pastas in this Lagos.
— Christina

The third thing we ordered were the Dulce de Leche Pancakes off the breakfast menu. I also finally decided to search on Google for the pronunciation of ‘Dulce de Leche’ and I’m lowkey upset none of my attempts were right.

  • Dool-theh theh Leh-tcheh (Actual Spanish pronunciation)

  • Dool-seh theh Leh-tcheh (Actual South American pronunciation)

  • Dool-cheh de Lee-chy (Folarin’s Attempt 1)

  • Dool-ch de Leh-ch (Folarin’s Attempt 2)

Anyhow, something the something pancakes.

The Dulce de Leche pancakes came with caramelised milk, almond crumbs, banana slices and a chopped up strawberry. Bonus points for the lovely presentation.

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The pancake’s texture was just right and the fruits and nuts went well together with the Dulce de Leche. While this was nice, it didn’t feel like something that should be on the breakfast menu. It felt way more like a dessert than breakfast. I tried getting Christina to try it but she wasn’t interested because of the sugar content.

At the end of our brunch, we received some particularly unpleasant service from our waiter and the manager - Lucky and Brett.

When the bill arrived, we asked to split the bill with food on one bill and drinks on the other, since Christina was handling DrinkLagos and I, the food review, but the waiter and manager made it out to be such a complex request to them. After numerous reasons why they can’t split the bill and how we should have asked for a split bill before ordering, the manager walked out on us while we were speaking to him.

A very unfortunate incident and to have come from the manager, that was particularly disappointing.


POSTSCRIPT

FOLARIN: Overall, the food at Craft Gourmet is decent enough. Maybe not enough to mask the service Brett rendered though.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Chicken and Waffles Sandwich - N4500

Chicken Pesto Pasta - N6000 (+N500 for bacon)

Dulce de Leche Pancakes - N4000 

 

PARKING

~100 cars in the Mega Plaza multiplex carpark

Olaiya’s Amala: Soul Food We All Need
 

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

POSTSCRIPT

I have decided to plan a trip in the near future to have all the gbegiri in the world, you probably should too. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Amala - N100 each wrap

Beef - N100

Shaki (Tripe) - N100

Goat Meat - N600

PARKING

There’s street parking, but you have to pay a small fee

Eat. Rice. Repeat: All Kinds of Rice at... Rice
 

NOSA: I’m not trying to say I have the best ideas, but I really do. Here’s something I tweeted three years ago:

NOSA: I’m not done. Just one more.

NOSA: Actually, I’m not done

FOLLY: Nosa really had the foresight.

NOSA: The idea behind Rice is absolute genius. I mean, I had it too so it definitely is. The place smells like ofada unfortunately, which wasn’t part of my original aesthetic. 

FOLLY: As you’d expect, Rice serves an abundance of Nigerian rice dishes with a variety of toppings.

I consider myself someone that likes rice. Well, most types of rice at least. I don’t like white rice that wasn’t boiled less than two hours ago and I still can't see the steam escaping when you’re serving it.

I also approve of rice in International cuisine, Mexican, Chinese, Indian Biryani, Thai etc. As long as it’s well seasoned, I absolutely dig it. I absolutely disapprove of refrigerated white rice, however, refrigerated Jollof rice seems to taste better - science.

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NOSA: The rice bowls come in two sizes: regular and large. The typical Nigerian should get the large. I’ve seen what you guys eat in the office canteen so I know the regular will piss you off. 

FOLLY: The regular was my size but I know what Nosa is saying. They also have some signature bowls, namely, the Ofada bowl, the Ewa bowl, the Jambalaya bowl and the Classic (White rice) bowl. In addition to those you can build your bowl from scratch.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You pick a rice base - white, jollof, fried, coconut, ofada etc.

  2. You pick a sauce - they have quite a few including vegetable soups like efo

  3. Proteins are up next - beef, chicken, snail, the works

  4. They’ve also got sides and sauces.

NOSA: I got the BYOB - Build Your Own Bowl - with jollof, plantains, chicken, coleslaw and the mango rodo sauce drizzled. With the BYOB, you have a little room to run wild with it. You can also get a cute little sample thing if you want to try things out and figure out what you want to go with like they do at Sweet Kiwi.

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FOLLY: I like beans and I didn’t want the responsibility of crafting my own bowl so I went for one of the set bowl options - The Ewa bowl. It came with white rice but I decided to be mature and ignore it, and also told her to put “just a little”. I was mistakenly served ofada stew instead of aganyin stew.

After a few bites, I went back to politely ask for my Aganyin sauce to be put in a mini container as there wasn’t enough oil in the ofada stew to sufficiently saturate the beans and my meal was tasting all kinds of dry.

Another thing that was dry and sadly could not be saved was the fried meat. The meat was dead * 100. I mean, look at it, it’s hard to believe that thing was once alive.

The Ewa Bowl

The Ewa Bowl

NOSA: The presentation doesn’t appear too functional, but trust me it is. If you like sectioning out your rice as you eat it, like I do, it works. It also works if you want to mix the whole thing. It reminds me of a Chipotle bowl in the way it’s layered. 

The rice, itself, isn’t out of this world. But I guess that’s not the point.  A shame because with better execution, Rice would be the perfect quick service restaurant - QSR. A significantly better alternative when compared to The Place across the hall. The light in the space is fantastic. It’s fit for top quality instagrammable content, but it just falls short when you eat the actual food. 

FOLLY: The Aganyin sauce was crispy to a fault - like the meat - and not spicy at all. I’d expect the toned down spiciness from a QSR because they are going to serve that to a diverse audience, so it’s better to allow those who really like pepper amp up the heat in their plate with one of the hot Rodo sauces that they offer, so people like me that can’t handle all that heat can still enjoy their meal.

BYOB - Jollof, chicken, plantains and coleslaw

BYOB - Jollof, chicken, plantains and coleslaw

FOLLY: Overally, the quality of the food is a hovering 6.5 to 7 out of 10 which is good enough for a QSR. Honestly, doesn’t need to blow you away but needs to be good enough that if you’re in the area and looking for something quick to eat, you think of them.

NOSA: It’s serviceable, not great. Nothing about the jollof brings you back like, say, a party jollof. You could even argue that The Place across the hall makes better jollof. But again, that’s really not the point. It does the bare minimum, which is sufficient. Also, I appreciated the sporks.

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FOLLY: In terms of value for money, I think it delivers. It passes on quality and the portions here are super generous. However, I foresee the Internet people that would probably never go here getting big mad at the prices (like they did at the Danfo Bistro Ewa Aganyin sandwich).

Yes, you can get rice at a buka for less than <500. However, please lets compare like with like. Rice should be compared to Chicken Republic and The Place and not Iya Festus.

 

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: I’m extremely happy for the person who had the funds and decided to take the leap with this creative idea for Rice. I honestly wish them all the success possible. I hope it bangs and becomes a chain across the country.

NOSA: I wish the rice was better, but it’s a good start. There’s definitely a lot of directions they can take it to.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Build a Bowl - starts from N1,450

 

PARKING

It’s in one of those Lekki malls so off street parking is available in the mall’s car park