Right off Piccadilly Circus in London hidden in a small side street of the newly developed St. James Market you will Ikoyi, a little gem of a restaurant. Ikoyi is the name of Lagos, Nigerias most affluent neighbourhood so you rightfully expect some West African food. And yes, in several dishes you will find West African ingredients like selim peppers or black benne or dishes like jollof, suya and efo. Flavour and dishes so good you wonder why you haven’t tasted them before. But the dishes are not at all cooked in a traditional West African way and you will also find local ingredients and flavours like chanterelles, Exmoor caviar, Italian melon, Orkney scallops etc. So Ikoyi can maybe be described as a contemporary flavour-based restaurant with West African influence and umami focus. In any case it is probably not worthwhile to pigeon hole Ikoyi, just be glad that there are cities like London where unique restaurants like Ikoyi can exist.
The restaurant opened in July in 2017 by Iré Hassan-Odukale and Jeremy Chan. They are childhood friends that shared a mutual passion for food which has been manifested in Ikoyi. Restaurant manager Iré grew up in Ikoyi, Nigeria and started off his career in insurance but the world of food lured him into the restaurant business. Head Chef Jeremy was also lured back to the world of food from a stint in finance from which he headed into the kitchen of Noma, Hibiscus and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal for five years before together with Iré started Ikyoi.
The dishes at Ikoyi might look simple when you look at the photos. But if you watch the videos you can hear Chef Jeremy explain some of all the ingredients and thinking that goes in the dishes you understand that neither the thinking or cooking is simple. Supposedly their famous Plantain, Raspberry & Smoked Scotch Bonnet contains more the 30 ingredients and very specific cooking techniques for each ingredient to bring out this beautiful simple looking dish.
There is a small well researched wine list and some well thought out pairings to the dishes that work very well. The interior is relaxed and modern and together with a efficient and friendly service you can focus fully on the food and fully enjoy some excellent flavourful unique dishes.
Written by Joakim