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Atoke: What’s the Deal with Nigerian Restaurants Abroad?

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Final Image - EditedOn Friday, my friend and I decided to go hunting for a taste of Nigeria. He wanted to eat Asaro very badly and the only place to get Nigerian food was out on the West side of the city.

Do you have a particular restaurant in mind? Or where exactly are we driving to?” I asked, strapping up my seat belt with one hand, and pulling up the Maps app with the other hand.

Nowhere in particular; when we get to that area I’m sure we’ll see loads of them.

3 hours later, we walked out of a Nigerian ‘restaurant’ with a pack of pounded yam and egusi soup. Neither of us had the excited thrill of satisfaction which we would have expected after such a long night. We were just tired and wanted to go home.

We visited at least 5 restaurants and the common factors of a Nigerian restaurant hit us in the face.

  • Bad service – discourteous and rude staff
  • Dirty curtains and tattered table cloths
  • Raggedy looking plastic chairs
  • Dark and dinghy interiors
  • Unavailability of  the food listed on the menu.

Although I wasn’t terribly surprised, it was sorely disappointing. Time and time again, I have the hope that I’d find a Nigerian restaurant that will gladden my heart and make my palate sing. Convinced that I haven’t travelled wide enough, I nurse the hope that a Nigerian restaurant exists somewhere outside of Nigeria, that will make us proud of Nigerian cuisine. However, it appears that we are only able to duplicate Nigeria everywhere we go. {I wrote about it here, last year}

So let’s talk about some of the problems that plague majority of Nigerian restaurants. The first thing I can think of is the absence of the culture of excellence.

What is that thing that makes you strive for more? Be more? Do better? Be the best? Nigerian restaurants in diaspora seem to lack it. I can’t think of any reason why tattered curtains will grace your restaurant space for weeks, months and years. Is it that nobody noticed that the blinds are broken and dusty? Surely someone noticed; just that nobody cares.

Maybe someone did notice and they thought, “let us just manage it like that.” We need to learn to do better than ‘just manage’. If it’s cracking, or peeling, or breaking… fix it before it gets so bad.

A business in the food and hospitality industry has to put a premium on aesthetics. It’s not enough to serve sweet jollof rice; if it’s served in what looks like a pig sty; then it will take an incredible amount of hunger and starvation to get the client to come back.

Another problem that haunts Nigerian restaurants is good service. We can be incredibly rude as a people. We don’t believe in respecting one another, and mostly don’t believe that respect is reciprocal. If I respect you enough to walk into your store to patronise you, then there should be an equal measure of respect from the point of service.
Tacky, unprofessional and tardy service are the markers of a Nigerian business (home and abroad)

This review just made me sad...

This review just made me sad…

:(

🙁

Anyway, I got tired of bellyaching about this issue by myself, and I decided to ask a few friends about their experiences in Nigerian restaurants abroad. The first thing Jummai asked me, in the most incredulous tone, was: “why are they always so dark?” I was still laughing at the absurdity of the truth in her question when she responded that it was probably because the staff were undocumented and they didn’t need patrons being able to identify them in public.

Funny, but might be true.

My other friend, (who has asked to be identified as Duke Idris of Hertfordshire) said:
“Naija restaurants are set up to cater to Nigerians  – that’s their problem. They don’t seem to want to diversify. They may open with the best of intentions to be professional, but after a while they realise that to make money they have to be Nigerian – that means packing in as many tables as possible because Nigerians will not book in advance. They will turn up with their extended family and expect a table. The crowd that will be your bread and butter will expect to shout at your waiters and be lousy.  The ‘posher’ Nigerian restaurant critics only come once in a while, you aren’t going to make money off them. So you ditch the professional staff and just get by on the slimmest margin.”

He pretty much summed it up for me. Although it made me sad, I’m afraid that unless we change the fact that we are comfortable accepting mediocrity, we might never get to the level of having internationally recognised Nigerian restaurants.

I want a Nigerian restaurant I can proudly take my foreign colleagues to. I don’t want to cringe at the bad service, smelly toilets, or the cracked plates. I want to explain the beauty of the flavours in the Egusi and the Asaro, and I want to do it without smelling the Okporoko in the dining area.

And because I’m taking this very personally… please let me know what you have noticed about Nigerian restaurants abroad. What are the things you feel are lacking? What can be done to make them better? Have you been to any Nigerian restaurant that impressed you with their service?

I’d like to put together a team of project managers to work with restaurant business owners who are interested in revamping their business. It’s not enough to have a couple of chairs, good food, sell drinks, and then call yourself a restaurant. I will help you manage a team of creative and business minded people to take your restaurant to the next level.

After all, people like Dooney’s KitchenAfroLems, 1QFood Platter and Lohis Creation are working very hard to make food look good on social media. We need to step things up.

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

153 Comments

  1. Haba

    June 20, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Big time generalization, Atoke you didn’t try at all. I have been to 3 different Nigerian restaurants in London and none of them had the issues you outlined above. If you are trying to advertise for those names highlighted in bold in your last paragraph, then say so.

    And not just that, I recently started doing my African grocery shopping online and it went hitch-free delivered right to my doorstep, all done professionally, and it is owned/operated by a Nigerian.

    • slice

      June 20, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      But you know shes not lying. She said majority of them and yes majority of them are nt good.

    • ATL's finest

      June 21, 2016 at 12:56 am

      LOL u are right Slice. Actually, I have only been to a Nigerian restaurant twice in my life & although it wasn’t that bad, it is just not for me. Even at parties, not all Nigerian food I like to eat out side my home period.

    • foodist

      June 21, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      I ate in a naija restaurant in Seoul, Korea. the first time the egusi soup was nice. décor not so good…but I wanted to patronage…im African…not naija…but we are all same. so I went there again. the egusi soup had that hint of sourness…the greens in it were black….I think it was made some days before…I have never been there again…

    • Nakoms

      June 21, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      What we fail to realise is we carry our environment and our makeup where ever we go. Nigeria is not just a place it’s a state of mind. You will abuse your motherland fly out of the country but will inadvertently exhibit traits of all that you rebel against. In nigeria our excuse is that the place is dingy because there is no Nepa. What excuse do nigerian resturantuers have again in USA or any other place for that matter for poor service and environment.

      Maybe it’s buharis fault.

    • Phoenix

      June 21, 2016 at 12:14 am

      Please what are the names of the restaurants?!!! I’m begging. Cos what Atoke’s described has ALWAYS been my experience & sometimes I REALLY wanna eat Nigerian food that I didn’t cook. So please share the name of the good places you went to abeg!!!

    • for now

      June 21, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      🙂

    • for now

      June 21, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      African grill stone mountain Georgia. Small but nice

    • Nahum

      June 21, 2016 at 3:47 am

      Atoke is telling the truth. The only Nigerian restaurant I have been happy with here in the DMV is Kingsway. Their decor is fresh and everywhere is clean but of course, they don’t have customers because our Naija people think they are too expensive. If I eat anywhere else, I will die of cholera.

    • Damilola

      June 21, 2016 at 4:22 am

      Atoke is right. Presentation, customer service and appreciation are lacking. Some naija restaurant start up good in the beginning but along the way become complacent once they see a good number of customers. They come in with fast money making mind, so become discouraged when it’s not moving as fast as they anticipated. They become extremely rude like they are doing you a huge favor, they increase their prices and little by little start serving not well cooked and spoiled foods. And menu becomes few foods. They have one waitress on a Friday/Saturday night knowing full well they will have more customers on weekends. So be prepared to wait for hours. Ok, nigerian foods are not easy to cook, and naijas complain too much, are demanding but still try your best on the presentation part. I’ve witnessed, some customers come in and start bossing the waitress or the owner around. Start asking for food that clearly is not on the menu, only to add a little bit of insult for not carrying his/her demanded food. I want mixed okra soup without the stew. oh do you have rice and beans mixed with stewed periwinkles or my favorite soup from my village, my grandmother cooked it a lof(doesn’t know the name or forming). At this point, the naija waitress will whisper under her breath, mumu.
      Respect is reciprocal. Nigerians should learn to support and encourage one another.

      Bottom line is, Most Nigerians don’t understand the concept of a successful business. You have to consistently build on your clientele and improve on things that will keep existing customers and attract more.

    • Naijatalk

      June 21, 2016 at 4:48 am

      LOL!!!!

    • The Restaurant INSPECTOR

      June 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Restaurants in London and what they are synonymous for:

      List of Naija restaurants in London and what they are synonymous for

      Tasty -Woolwich: Yahoo boys depot – weird looking aunties -Food is indeed tasty though-puff puff is bae.

      Tasty-Stratford: customer service is good as the staffs have improved- telephone manners =ZERO

      805- Old Kent road-: ok customer service- overpriced “Moniker fish” –toilet is GROSSSSSS and TINYYYY for such a big place- meet up/pick up joints for “big men”, food takes ages.
      805- Hendon: Never been I don’t know (will be visiting soon )

      Banana –Seven sisters: heard good things about the place. Has been referred to me twice ( will be visiting)

      Squares canning town: food is always stale, they warm up yesterday’s food to serve, only a person with a taste bud like mine will know- Décor is just blehhhhhhhhh(looks like a buka) needs to be worked on- customer service is ok that Asian boy and the black short guy are always polite and smiling.

      Eko- Hackney- if I start we no go comot here – food is just ‘ok’ , their catfish pepper soup can cure cancer sha, live band every Friday ,spot for alhajas with big boobs , big yansh, scary looking makeup, big hair don’t kurrrr and weird looking men, Aka yahoo boys

      Aso rock – Dalston- BUKA

      Presidential – old Kent road: Just there, very loud, Igbo boys always arguing loudly about something lol, food is ok

      Tomis Kitchen Hackney and Deptford: no longer what it used to be. Lost its glory, food is ok , customer service is ok can be improved.

      Wazobia old kent road- peppersoup is good,LOUDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD, customer service is 0

      Kings –Barking: Pub turned restaurant, yahoo boys, Dj on point, food is ok , too local everybody’s aunty and uncle are in there.
      Add yours: below

      Nigerian restaurants need to be called out on their crap and they need to improve. Other businesses get left reviews online and they fix up but Nigerian restaurants never want to learn because you have customers don’t mean you are at the top of your game. There is a regulatory body being set up and they will start visiting anonymously so be prepared. Please fix up
      PS: stop selling 5 slices of plantain for 1 pound please. It’s against the law lol Cheers,

      The Restaurant inspector.

    • Jade Edo babe

      June 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      Hehehehe….I can’t stop laughing. Chai, we naijas get mouth. You made some valid points though.
      I recently went on a date. I was tired of oyibo food, so I suggested we go to a naija restaurant. It’s new in the area, decent and let’s support. My date started complaining as soon as we got there. I don’t know what it is when we deal with ourselves we have to find something negative to say for no reason. Complaints after another over petty things. He said, the food didn’t have enough pepper, they didn’t have the special Guinness he likes. The music sound system wasn’t good enough. Then said, he won’t tip. Why? First, restaurant foods will never taste like home cooked meals, so appreciate what you have. And when you go to oyibo restaurant you will be forming posh, putting tip that they didn’t even ask for. So, why won’t you tip at a naija restaurant especially if the service was ok. All this bad behaviors can discourage the owner from putting effort. Yes of course, they need to work on their business skills.
      It’s both ways.

      1
    • Charles

      June 21, 2016 at 5:55 pm

      “You have to consistently build on your clientele, and improve on things that will keep existing customers and attract more” This is one of the best secret to successful business. Once, you focus on that money will naturally roll in.
      Damilola, I see a lot of your comments here. I like you.

    • shior

      June 21, 2016 at 10:12 am

      which Nigerian rest-au -rants in london? please don’t mention because they all lack customer service. Tasty is no 1 on the worst service list. 805 is all hype and over priced.

    • larz

      June 21, 2016 at 11:55 am

      Please share those restaurant names.

      I remember a few years back, I went to a newish Nigerian restaurant on Old Kent Road. It was so awesome, I convinced my friends to all go there (instead of popular 805) to have my birthday meal (it was a milestone birthday). The restaurant went from great to rubbish. I felt like crying. Apparently, they decided to swap a chef to caterers. the original chef used to make typical Nigerian food plus one or two wild cards (once I had a very tasty Creole fish that was out of this world).

      This was less than a year later. That was my biggest mistake. If only I lived close by, I would have checked out the restaurant again to make sure the service hasn’t dropped. Funny enough, I am the kind of person that goes back to a fantastic restaurant that I have had great experience in months/ years later and I have never encountered that significant drop/ change in quality in non-Nigerian restaurants.

      As far as London is concerned, there only two restaurants I wouldn’t mind taking my non-Nigerian friends to for regular (not fine dining) are 805 and Mama Calabar. The rest of the Nigerian restaurants are for take away only at best

    • ₦ 100.00

      June 21, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      It is called, getting the COMPLETE Nigerian experience, with the active word being COMPLETE.

    • LemmeRant

      June 21, 2016 at 9:16 pm

      LOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Happy Child

      June 22, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      Please, whats the name of the online store you use for Nigeria food shopping. Thanks

  2. Disco

    June 20, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    I stopped going to Nigerian restaurants in London for this very reason. Rude staff, there’s always water on the toilet floor (can someone explain this), the smell from the lavatory, non availability of anything on the menu. And then they act like they act like they are doing you a bloody favour.

    I agree with your friend Duke of Herts, our restaurants are set up just for Nigerians. Shabby, average food, topped with abysmal service

    • ATL's finest

      June 21, 2016 at 1:04 am

      Look @ water always on the floor. Those Toilets tho YACKS & public toilets is a NO-NO for ME..

  3. dwonderkid

    June 20, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    This is a horrible generalisation
    I have been to 805 in London with non-Nigerian friends and they have loved the food
    My only complaint was slow service – bit the waiters were smiley and did their best to please.
    They even took their time explaining all the delicacies – shaki, cow leg etc – to my friends.
    Give praise where praise is due and dont disparage all because of some.
    Not nice

    • Dee

      June 20, 2016 at 10:55 pm

      805 is trying, it could still be better. Nevertheless, the issues Atoke mentioned affect a majority of Nigerian restaurants. Pls explain why a Naija restaurant has run out of Ayamase at 6pm on a Friday evening? Friday is the busiest day of service for Naija restaurants anywhere in the world so you should be prepared and fully stocked!!!

    • ekalor

      June 21, 2016 at 8:48 am

      She said majority…

  4. dwonderkid

    June 20, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    PS – Typo alert – ‘but the waiters…….’

  5. Pmimmy

    June 20, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    So true. Infact these are not restaurants, they are ‘joints’
    Aimed at attracting male clientiele to ‘carry babes’
    Forget Zagat rating talk less of Michelin star. The owners have probably never gone to a restaurant or explore what eating out is all about.

    The chairs seem to be purchased from the same supplier oh!

    Funny Enough they do take pains to get a big screen tv. (The horror)

    805 in Hendon try small, but the ladies toilet has no ventilation. ( off loading pounded yam odikwa risky ooo) biko put air freshener.

    And the tea and coffee listed on the menu is just for decoration.

    I remember asking for lemon tea and the staff said they had none. Yet it was listed on the menu and a supermarket was next door.

    I can go to a thai, indian, Ethiopian, morrocan, jamaican restaurant , even the dirt cheap noodle bar has good lighting and decor.

    I cannot take my colleagues to a Nigerian restaurant o.
    They should not even be called restaurants, they are canteens or pick up joints, except 805 hendon.

    • Loewe

      June 21, 2016 at 8:20 am

      Am sorry to say this but most people who actually live abroad aren’t the most educated or exposed especially because most find tricky ways to leave nigeria and stay back abroad. Thus, they only still have the mama put sense of running a restaurant in a civilized environment.
      I live abroad myself and I am very picky of people I associate myself with because I weigh it on the basis that if I were in nigeria would I be friends with such person.

      I digress, but then this takes us to the idea that other correctly exposed people could set up consultancies that help these Nigerians who want to startup restaurants to understand how to set up a decent carefully priced, and maintained business.

    • slice

      June 21, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      This is not my experience. if you’d said some people you would be right. But no most Nigerians who live abroad are in fact exposed and educated. Unfortunately those who tend to choose the restaurant or store ownership route tend not to be the best Nigeria has to offer which is sad bc they make more contact with non Nigerians than most Nigerians ever will.

  6. divora

    June 20, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    there is one called Aso rock in dallas,it looks like a canteen wit poor décor..they didn’t have half of d food on the menu,i ordered for tilapia fish,jollof and plantain,the tilapia wasn’t fresh and was smelly same wit the jollof and it took dem one hour to even serve d food…the female toilet is a complete mess..wen I complained d waitress offered to warm d fish for me lol….I wld neva go bck dere again..its beta I eat oyibo fresh food dan dat rubbish

  7. Sophie

    June 20, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Atoke i totally feel you! i just mentioned same to a sister not 2 hours ago!

    Nigerians when will we do better? saying 805 is ‘trying’ is just the thing that is wrong with us as a people! why are they trying, when they should be at par with even the cheapest Asian restaurants? I can bet a lot of the so called Nigerian restaurant owners have more cash at hand than the Asian run restaurants but you can never compare at all in menu, lighting, service and even down to the table cloths!

    please if there really is a management team you can put together to help these business owners, it will do good and I thank you because it’s one thing for us all to complain and it’s actually another for someone to actually aim to do something about it….I do hope the restaurateurs cooperate with you and your team and i applaud your action for change.

    • Loewe

      June 21, 2016 at 8:34 am

      I watched a documentary once about a month ago about this 34 years old Chinese lady who came into France at 25 for a 1 year exchange program, somehow she didn’t return to China but stayed back to work 1 full year at a Chinese run buffet in the heart of Paris. After this she decided to start her Chinese buffet, moved out of Paris to another city: Avignon, got herself a big space in the outskirts, imported 3/4 of materials from China (of course cheaply) and totally rocked it like a rockstar. Now she has like 5 restaurants around france and cashing in over half a million euros annually in revenue.
      She went from basic to big deal.

      Now am saying this because sometimes, it just takes a small time period to correctly expose oneself. Many Nigerians won’t think like this girl. She took a year to go to learn how such restaurants are run, saved up and when she was ready got a loan to boost her savings to start not to forget the skills that she had earned.
      Her restaurant is called Panda. The price is right, the atmosphere is right, even better pricing for kids plus gifts etc.
      the problem with Nigerians is we never think of the long term, we just want to make that investment in 6 months… Like ?. God save us

  8. Nene

    June 20, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    That’s why I always laugh when Nigerians in the diaspora insult Nigeria. Nigeria is a shithole because of the people in it, and no matter where Nigerians live or go, they carry the same attitude with them. I eat at Ethiopian restaurants abroad. Each time I order from Nigerian restaurants, the food is never fresh, I don’t even bother to eat in the restaurants. There are a few nice ones but most are horrible. Nigerians need to learn what customer service is all about. Jeez!

  9. Tolu

    June 20, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    I would advise you look out for Nigerian Supper clubs in London like tokunboskitchen: tokunboskitchen.com or Onidodo: onidodo.com

    • Dami

      June 21, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Onidodo Supper club is one of the best place for Nigerian food in London. I would go over and over again.

  10. Ms.b

    June 20, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Bukka in Brooklyn isn’t bad and they r very professional.

    • Corolla

      June 21, 2016 at 12:00 am

      Buka isn’t that bad, but it isnt great either. The staff is courteous and professional, but they can do better with the dingy ambience, low lights, slow service, and that dirty looking Nigerian flag that’s in the bar area.

    • Ms.b

      June 21, 2016 at 3:09 am

      The service is slow because they kinda make the food fresh.

    • newbie

      June 21, 2016 at 1:44 am

      And the food is just bleh

    • Nahum

      June 21, 2016 at 3:48 am

      Bukka’s toilets are filthy though

    • O.F

      June 21, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      Ms. B, I totally disagree, bukka in brooklyn is horrible. I went there with my friend Osh papa, customer service sucks, the plantain was half done and the beef was not well cooked. The fat waitress stood there at the counter as if she was doing us a favor and their food is heavily over priced. I would never recommend it to anyone, saw the review on CNN and thought it was super, such a big error. Nigerians have this care free attitude to business, well not all but most of the one I have come across.

  11. Becca

    June 20, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    I think it really depends o, I have been to “Nigerian” restaurants in Paris and it’s the exact opposite. It’s very clean, organised and the service is quite nice, although sometimes slow but then one can always make a reservation.

    • Simi

      June 21, 2016 at 1:51 am

      Which ones, please? I know of only one.
      It pass the test but for service especially if you book ahead. Anyways, I’m curious to know if any others. Please epp!

    • Simi

      June 21, 2016 at 1:53 am

      It passes the test for service*

    • Becca

      June 21, 2016 at 7:44 am

      Hi, There’s African kitchen, Miliki’s and for something more continental African lounge, i think.

  12. Lala

    June 20, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Its a good thing Atoke wrote this piece. 805 at Hendon is really great and a good price as well. It costs a lot of good money to run a standard restaurant. Are people happy to pay upwards of £25 per meal? I heard Harrison Ford was taken to one of the 805’s by John Boyega to try Nigerian cuisine- I don’t know how true that is.

    But guys & ladies, I need your help. I am thinking of a buffet style restaurant in London, opened 3 days a week- Fridays, Saturday & Sunday. Its Nigerian & Ghanaian cuisine. Eat all you want for.£22.
    I want to try it out for 10 weeks as a pop up with plenty of PR before the launch date. The name is ‘goingtoLagos’.

    Nigerians & Ghanaians in the UK, what do you all think? Your suggestions are very much appreciated, thanks.

    • le coco

      June 21, 2016 at 12:08 am

      why not…. try it…… do your research… ask around… goodluck.. btw WHEN you become succesful.. be sure to remind us about the comment you posted here…

    • Mama

      June 21, 2016 at 1:29 am

      That would be lovely. One thing that cannot go out of fashion is food. If you’re able to take heed to the observations outlined in this post, i think you will do just fine. All the best!

    • N

      June 21, 2016 at 7:09 am

      Not a bubble buster…but why would you want to run a Nigerian/Ghanian buffet for £22 for meal…even Chinese restaurants with continental dishes are still below £20. Don’t run down your business before it even starts!!

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 11:55 am

      @N, this is where the problem lies. The most recomended restaurant in London across this thread has been 805 Hendon which on average cost £22 to £25 per meal – not buffet. . Most of the restaurants people complained about in London cost £7 to £10 per meal on average. Do you see the correlation between cheap and poor quality? You are paying for labour by the hour, plus council tax (called business rates), and exorbitant rents (do you see how empty the high streets are? Shop rents are ridiculously high in London, I was renting an office before for my current business, paying over £300 per month before you pay your rent at home- my dear, it’s not teeth o! It’s easy to type what you typed here, but when the rubber hits the road, these are the realities business people are dealing with).

      So, even if 805 Hendon have just 100 customers a day (I live close by, they have very good patronage) @ £25/ plate of food, that is £2,500/ day. Sure all days wont be the same, but compared to selling at £10, you need to sell 250 plates to make £2,500, that will take you up to 2 or more days plus more man hours, gas, etc is required to cook for 250 people. Do the maths dear! At the end of the day, it is the same food you sell for £10 that you sell for £20 or £25, nothing extra but the ambience. Courtesy cost nothing, so any one can offer that, I hope you understand my point?

      Chinese restaurants do not need to be expensive because they appeal to the entire population which is a massive number. The more your customers, the cheaper your unit cost for a plate of food. With NIgerian restaurants, your market is less than 4% of the entire UK population, plus as a people, we do not eat out a lot. The average Caucasian eats out at least twice a week, for Africans, maybe 5 times a year.

      I haven’t made up my mind yet but I am thinking of appealing to the general British public with a variety of all of these 3 options- Moroccan, South African and Nigerian Food. With a mass market, I can do takeaway style (eat in or take out), like the charcoal grill in Wilesden. The Nigerian food will be, just Fried rice, Jollof and fried plantain. On weekends, we will add swallow and Edikaikon soup. £10 to £14- but not buffet. Non-Nigerian chef (that’s what 805 does and I see why). Quarter chicken appeals to a mass market and then the Moroccan & South African food. I will try to do a full write up in response to Atoke’s piece, hopefully Bella will publish it.

    • naijafood is expensive to make

      June 21, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Chinese food is cheaper to buy and make, they run on a lot of mass production. Well, the version that we get. I watched a video where they make fake rice out of plastic, it looked real too. Their chicken and beef is questionable, not sure what it is sometimes.. They probably mixed it up with something else to give illusion of beef when it’s an actual gallbladder. They use a lot of pork. A lot of chinese restaurants close down due to sanitation problem too and serving inappriopriate foods that we snap our lips on. Blame it on the soy sauce.

      Other Asian foods are expensive. For example, Thai food is more expensive because they try stay authentic to their true food. Nigerian foods shouldn’t be put in the same category as chinese food at all.
      Our foods are more expensive and rich. We try to use real chicken, meat and fish. It’s a lot of detailed ingredients that goes into it which is not cheap either and serious hard work. The palm oil and stock fish alone is no joke. It makes sense if it’s more pricey.

    • Anon

      June 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

      I just read out the 805 Hendon bit to my oga. He said it’s because it’s new. Give it 3 to 5 years and it will be as run down as the other one.

      Pop ups are usually cheap and cheerful. For all you can eat at £22 for a pop up, you are on a long thing…Good luck!

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 11:59 am

      @Anon, 805 is about a year plus now and the one at Old Kent road is still decent. Overall, the owner is focused on his business and this is what he does full time. If he continues with this dedication, and does not compromise on price, he should be fine. The problem mostly comes from price reduction.

    • Jade

      June 21, 2016 at 11:38 am

      isn’t 22 pounds a bit much though? i mean there are chinese buffets for 5 pounds so……???

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      @Jade, more like £7.50 and for a mass market. Pricing works this way, sell cheap to a mass market or high to a scanty clientele. Nigerian food does not yet have mass appeal. Selling cheap to a scanty market is the quickest way to death for any business. I am considering Moroccan and South African, with little Nigerian. Thanks for your contribution.

    • Observer

      June 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      There use to be a buffet style restaurant near deptford called ‘Embassy’ Nigerians ate them out of business… thats all I will say.

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      @ Observer, LOL, trust me, I have been thinking about that bit. Perhaps they were doing a buffet for £10. Of course, there would be no margin there. I take your words on board, that buffet thing may not work I think. Thank you.

    • slice

      June 21, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      No I don’t think its a good idea to do it that way. For a pop up, do a limited menu with 8 to ten items and bring thd price way diwn. No neex for buffet for now.
      The smaller naija restaurants get frustrated in business bc for the first few months they cook everything and no one orders. Then they start saving the food fir next day and serving almost spoiled food. Dont make that mistake

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      @slice, thank you. Did you see my reply about focusing less on Nigerians and more on the general British public with Mroccan and South African, very little Nigerian. Much like the groundnut book boys and their African menu- it was a massive craze last year in London. Their market was the general public. They had Moroccan but not South African and Nigerian. I would love to hear your thoughts, thanks. I am concerned about focusing on a tiny market, when the general public is available.

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      June 21, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      I can’t lie – my first thought when I read your business idea was, “Ehnnn? All you can eat? Dem go finish your food in just one sitting” ?

      And it sounds like a good one -I can see why you’re fixing the price at £22 as well because ingredients for Nigerian food in particular are not cheap. Asian buffets can afford to charge £10-15 per head as their menu seems to consist of a lot of chicken and pork… But stockfish, plantains and egusi are on a different level of prices.

      I know Brazilian rodizio restaurants charge within that region – i.e. £20-£25 per head for all-you-can-eat at their meat grills. My main caveat is that those Brazillian steakhouses aren’t attracting only Brazillians and their clientele largely consists of caucasians (& meat loving Africans such as myself).

      With a Naija/Ghanaian restaurant, you’re targeting Nigerian & Ghanaians as your main clients and you’ll need to give them very, very good reasons why they should spend £22 at your joint when they can spend half of that on poundo & soup at their usual joint that’ll “belle-full” them. And you need to be ready to deal with ratty customers who think that since they’ve spent £22 at your restaurant, they’re entitled to sit there all day to have breakfast, lunch and dinner.

      It’s definitely a great idea if you can make the business sustainable – all the best with it!

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      @Mz Socially Awkward, thanks, I appreciate your contribution. The essence of asking questions is to enable one see flaws in one’s model rather than hiding everything and failing. The 10 weeks pop up this year will enable me see what is working and what is not, before rolling out next year.

      See the other option I am considering:

      I haven’t made up my mind yet but I am thinking of appealing to the general British public with a variety of all of these 3 options- Moroccan, South African and Nigerian Food. With a mass market, I can do takeaway style (eat in or take out), like the charcoal grill in Wilesden- not fine dinning, but your neighbourhood decent takeaway, targeting heavy food traffic of hungry people at the close of work. The main focus would be South African and Moroccan cuisine for Caucasians. The Nigerian food will be, just Fried rice, Jollof and fried plantain – which appeals to most West Africans. I could possibly die down on the Nigerian side of things or erase the Nigerian menu all together. On weekends, we will add swallow and Edikaikon soup. £10 to £14- but not buffet. Non-Nigerian chef (that’s what 805 does and I see why)- if there’s good enough response during the pop-up period, if not scrap the Edikaikon off the final menu. Quarter chicken appeals to a mass market and then the Moroccan & South African food. I will try to do a full write up in response to Atoke’s piece, hopefully Bella will publish it. So, 8-10 options only, across all 3 menus- Nigerian, Moroccan and maybe Nigerian.

      Thanks peeps, I appreciate the suggestions.

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Dial down – sorry
      Foot traffic
      All errors observed.

    • Easy n Gentle

      June 21, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      I hope you do come back to check this Lala, a tweak to Mz Socially awkward’ suggestion: how about you do all you can eat within a limited time frame, say an hour or an hour 30 minutes starting from when the first meal was served. Alternatively, you can create a menu list with special brand name e.g Lagos special (meaning gizdodo for apetitzer, jollof with turkey and maybe poundo as third serving) all for a fixed price… There are various ways to tweak the ideas while still following the original plan

    • Bridget

      June 21, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      An excellent idea. I wish we could have more of u instead of generalized criticism.

    • Lala

      June 22, 2016 at 12:05 am

      @Bridget, thanks. @Eazy N Gentle, thank you so much.

    • Drew

      June 21, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      As a Ghanaian, I won’t be going to a restaurant named ‘GoingtoLagos’ as I’ve never been to Lagos for real. If you’re adding Ghanaian cuisines, maybe ‘GoingtoLagosAndAccra’ should be considered? ??? But overall, what a silly name. Good luck though. ??

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 11:33 pm

      @Drew, Adding Accra came to my as well, thanks for pointing that out. Staying neutral on a name is a better idea, thanks.

    • gegeg

      July 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Just name it WEST AFRICA…. lol

  13. ba

    June 21, 2016 at 12:10 am

    Chai, one always thought you folks the other side of the channel have it good with Nigerian food. Haha!

    Anyhoo, if you guys are ever in Paris, try out our best Naija restaurant – African Kitchen, 92 rue Saint Maur 75011 Paris (Metro line 11, stop Rue Saint-Maur or Parmentier). Clean and nicely maintained space, food served fresh, super courteous staff (The owner, Olivia is such a lovely lady, a breath of fresh air in a city where customer service doesn’t exist – a lot about french restaurant services are not malicious stereotypes). If you ever have a complaint about the service though, which rarely happens just let her know and she will fix it with no questions or further ado.

    Signed, loyal African kitchen customer who has received loyalty discounts and Christmas chocolates- (So happy to finally be able to write a glowing review about this restaurant on such a public platform 😀 and I did the most, I know)

    • Yaya

      June 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Ba,
      I’m moving to Paris soon and I need lots of tips.
      Can we link up
      Or any other Parisian’s here pls ??
      [email protected]

    • Zedzed

      June 21, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Hey Yaya, Parisian here. I will send you a mail!!

    • Yaya

      June 21, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Thanks Zedzed
      Looking forward to your mail

    • Keez

      November 12, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      I have been going to the African Kitchen in Paris almost every week since I’ve been in Paris for three years now. I can’t stop. I can attest to the customer-oriented service here including birthday and special discounts. The staff is polite and courteous and the place is very clean without the funny smells one read for other places. I’ve taken my friends there and we’ve never had reasons for disappointment. Food has the strong Nigerian flavour and a relaxed atmosphere for camaraderie devoid of loud arguments or show-offism we Nigerians are known for. Food is reasonably well priced (<€20 for almost all individual dishes). The gizzard mixed with plantain and salad will wow everyone.

      Having savored Nigerian delicacies in Nigerian restaurants in other countries in Europe and the US, the African Kitchen in Paris comes tops. I have seen more foreigners here than elsewhere.

      Give it a try whenever you are in Paris. Remember to make a reservation as it gets busy sometimes. Don't miss it.

  14. Letty

    June 21, 2016 at 12:18 am

    please dont get me started with nija restaurants and nija general bad behaviors in the diaspora…in Houston the stupid girls at the finger lickin restaurant are so rude, ill mannered and totally uncouth…the restaurant itself is dark but generally not too bad because it is fairly large….the girls in the tale away section are ridiculous..i don’t even bother going there any more no matter how much i crave scotch eggs… nkechi restaurant in los angeles is kind of okay…but hwat she lacks in ambiance she compensates with having a good attitude…Nkechi herself is nice but the servers are something else…Nigerians are generally a very rude bunch of people…very rough around the edges and crass…people actually tell me that I dont act like aggressive Nija women and it is a huge compliment…..women fight in town meetings one women’s club in the span of about 4 years has disbanded at least 5 times..women fight and rip each other’s clothes..its terrible how we carry ourselves in the diaspora all around not only in the restaurants….

    • Beezee

      June 21, 2016 at 3:07 am

      Gurrrrrl, don’t get me started about that damn Finger Lickin”. The worst!!! The servers are so rude, so uncouth, so annoying and look depressed. I understand that you may have bagged degrees in Nigeria before arriving here, but America humbles everyone. Heck. I worked in a cafeteria in my college days.. Even worked at Pappadeaux. Didn’t treat anyone badly and no one spoke to me condescendingly.

      They speak over the food. They mix up your order and argue unnecessarily with you. No hello and if you do, their response is the famous “dry look” like “what do you want to order?” instead of “how may I help you?”

      The new “temp” owner (temp because no be today that business change hands) has a 24/7 b***tch face. She needs a huge humble pie cos a slice won’t do. Since the original owners moved to Nigeria, I gave up on that place. I’d rather buy cooked meals from SW Farmers than enter that dark-lit Finger-Lickin” restaurant.

      The best African restaurant in Houston is P..li-P..li (South African) or Tri….ty on Gessner Rd. (Them no pay me to advertise their business…lol). Cool ambience, good service and friendly manager. The decor is good by Nigerian standards.

      To restaurant owners: Invest in customer service training. If you can’t afford a professional to train your staff, compile relevant YouTube videos for everyone to learn including yourself.

    • ??

      June 21, 2016 at 8:59 am

      You need to question the kind of crowd you roll with. The Nigerians I know here do not act crass in any way.

      By the way, those “complimenting” you that you don’t act Nigerian, basically just insulted your roots/origin, and you are here feeling cool about it, hehehe. Na wa!

    • Anon

      June 21, 2016 at 10:55 am

      By the way, those “complimenting” you that you don’t act Nigerian, basically just insulted your roots/origin

      Not necessarily. Maybe she was composed and showed good manners. The generalisation runs deep. A lot of people associate Nigerians with what Letty said.

      I went to have my hair done last month. My appointment was at 9.30 am and I got there at 9.15 am. The lady was surprised. When she finished, I liked her work and I added £5 to the fee and she hugged me. The Cameroonian lady said I’m not like a Nigerian. I laughed and said why? She said Nigerians are always late and never tip. I said the ones you know.

      Am I the only one who avoids Nigerian restaurants? I can pick up meat pies + ayamase (and take home to boil with white rice) but I turn down offers to go there, sit there and eat. My husband on the other hand loves them.

  15. Ola

    June 21, 2016 at 12:18 am

    This is not only a problem with Nigerian restaurants. I still complained about a grocery store I went to in DC. They Madam/Owner acted like she was doing me a favor after I spent my hard earned dollars in her store.

    I guess we as a people need to do better. This problem arises in all aspects of life where Nigerians are involved..

  16. nunulicious

    June 21, 2016 at 12:32 am

    biko BNers, kindly tell us which restaurants are good so i’d save myself the wahala of bad experience Atoke has had? That said, maybe the business margins are so low and the owners are barely making ends meet hence they scrounge on appearance. I know i’m making excuses for them sha.
    Also, though we are all over the surface of the earth, is the average Nigerian abroad willing to spend average of 60quid or 80USD for a meal for one person? are we willing to pay the price for quality? after the owner has invested in the business you’ll be hearing the patrons analysing the cost of maggi, uziza, palmoil, onion and dodo and asking why its so pricey. Just saying…

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 12:43 am

      @nunulicious, very true.

    • Dee

      June 21, 2016 at 5:31 am

      Absolutely true!

    • Surely

      June 21, 2016 at 6:54 am

      Even fancy restaurants with exotic ingredients HARDLY charge $60 per meal… Don’t play yourself.

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      June 21, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      @Nunulicious, I have to co-sign with @surely…. 60quid for a meal… Am I buying a goat?? ?

  17. aj

    June 21, 2016 at 1:44 am

    I think Peju’s Kitchen in Baltimore is nice. The decor is decent and the staff are not rude. The food too is nice. I always have the pounded yam and efo elegusi when I go there. I may even go there next month.

  18. Ij

    June 21, 2016 at 2:03 am

    Ify’s restaurant 2371 Murfreesboro Pike
    Antioch, TN U.S.A. has great food under $20. Restaurant has good lighting and has more often than not provides the food listed on the menu.

  19. Tamales

    June 21, 2016 at 2:16 am

    Please can someone recommend a good naija restaurant in Houston. (Please not finger licking)

    • dee

      June 21, 2016 at 2:35 am

      Try Kingsway bakery- they are also on insta @Kingswaybakery
      I usually order pans from caterers. Better than restaurants to be honest

    • Tamales

      June 22, 2016 at 3:36 am

      I ended up trying out Lagos Island Cafe on Hwy 6 today. I was actually impressed. Food was good and the customer service wasn’t bad. Decor wasn’t too shabby.
      It’s a buffet style restaurant but I ordered jollof rice to go and it was weighed.
      How do Nigerians eat at these buffet though? So do you eat small eba with egusi and try the ogbono with iyan and other orisirisi.

    • Wow

      June 21, 2016 at 5:30 am

      I’ll recommend Trinity African Restaurant. It’s on Gessner between Harwin and Westpark toll. Been there once and the food was good. The manager even came out to greet us while we waited for our meal to come out. By naija standards, the restaurant’s ambience itself is okay….

    • Me

      July 3, 2016 at 12:07 am

      Hahaha @finger licking.
      I took my 2 year old there and he kept trying to hide his face in his daddy’s shirt. He was afraid. He needed to use the restroom and his daddy took him. Let’s just say you don’t want to go there. It’s the kind of place where you won’t want to wash your hands because the entire restroom and the sink is so gross you’ll be afraid of picking up more germs if you touch the tap.

  20. Jules

    June 21, 2016 at 2:26 am

    Toyin take out in Atlanta is okay sha oh! As per food-freshness, taste,….and service in general. Oh well it’s a take out .

  21. KARASHIKA

    June 21, 2016 at 2:39 am

    But d banana restaurant near seven sisters is not too bad … Semi posh lol. Took my mum there n she loved d moi moi. My only grip with that place is that whenever I go there late evening time, all these men will be at the bar area arguing n shoutin loudly about naija politic.. Is like they don’t realise that other people r there as well. Go home to ur wife uncle ?

    • shior

      June 21, 2016 at 10:54 am

      i heard Banana is good. been told twice i will visit and come back to give judgement

    • Ij

      June 21, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      As in that their fish, plantain and spinach eh to die for

  22. Lakeshore Drive

    June 21, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Lol! This is so true!! I have that experience as well. But there are some progressive, forward thinking Nigerians that are changing this, one that I know for sure that just opened in Chicago is little Unicoco! All I have to say is checkout there decor and the food?!, “Wow!” The service, hmmm, for lack of better word, “impressive!” . The owner is very aware of the usual Nigerian restaurant experience, so decided to ditch that trend and did some amazing things in this restaurant. If you ever come to Chicago and get to Little Unicoco, you’ll be proud of your Nigerianess, and you proudly take anybody there! Littleunicoco.com.

  23. Pretty girl

    June 21, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Pls does anyone know any good nigeria restaurant in Toronto.

    • AHausaChickInToronto

      June 21, 2016 at 4:41 am

      There is one at jane and John best, I think it’s called ola restaurant……I love their jollof rice (as in its bae)….but I’ve never stayed there to eat and jollof is always what I buy, never tried other stuff.

    • hmm

      June 21, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      There’s also Lola Restaurant at Keele and FInch. Her snacks are nice and her stew is awesome. Ola’s egusi is what I like.

    • Femi Shine

      June 21, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Ola place or something, my friend once brought me their Ayamase and it was good. There is no Nigerian restaurant in Scarborough which is sad cause its hard crossing the city just to get good food.

  24. Tee

    June 21, 2016 at 2:56 am

    Just don’t go to Koultures in Edmonton Alberta Canada. The worst Nigerian restaurant I’ve ever been too. They basically had 10% of what was listed on their menu. Said next time we should give them heads up so they will get the ingredients. I was confused. The waiter was so rude and unfriendly, with so much attitude. I hope the service is better when the owner is there. But me + the 8 friends I came with will never be going back there

  25. Ms.b

    June 21, 2016 at 3:14 am

    I ate stale food at Greeley square from a Nigerian mini restaurant. The rice was burnt and cold and stale.

  26. Mywifeisfiiiiiiine

    June 21, 2016 at 3:35 am

    Alhajas place in Philadelphia famously known as Wazobia describes everything Atoke wrote about and more.

  27. for love of food

    June 21, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Buka in Brooklyn is the worst Nigerian eatery I have been to, I was served okra cooked with vegetable oil, it was terrible and the interior is so horrible, didn’t get the whole idea of the danfo bus if the owner couldn’t as much as polish the floor, all the ‘african art made the place look like one babalawo haven, Tropicana grill in queens is far better, and also honeybees in Brooklyn, one should try honeybees ayamase , dun dun and Ata didin , it is heavenly mheeen……..

    • TheTruth

      June 21, 2016 at 10:03 am

      I have never had the Okra in Buka so I can’t speak on that but I can speak on the decor, general ambience, and the other dishes I have had there.

      Buka is one of the few Nigerian/African restaurants I would take other non-Nigerians/Africans to. Is it the best restaurant I have been to? No. But it definitely does me proud as a Nigerian (in relation to the other Nigerian restaurants in the tri-state area)

  28. omo

    June 21, 2016 at 4:14 am

    My church went on a missions trip to Nigeria. In preparation they wanted to try some cuisine here before going. I recommended a restaurant to them. I was really ashamed by how they were treated and their experience. I never recommended another person to that restaurant, and shortly afterward they went out of business.

    Another time a friend organized a birthday party. She placed a catering order weeks in advance and paid a deposit. On the day of the event when it was time to pick up the food, the restaurant informed us that the food wasn’t ready because Nigerian parties don’t start on time. I was disappointed by the level of discourteous and unprofessional service and never recommended or returned there for food. Shortly afterward they went out of business.

  29. Chi

    June 21, 2016 at 4:48 am

    Lol this article is funny and Nigerians in Nigeria should take note.

    The best restaurant in HOUSTON is Triniti Bar and Grill off South Gessner. The food is always nice and fresh. Restroom is clean. Waitresses are nice. The Bossman is cool and friendly.

    Also check out Safari( she’s the Mum to Beverly that gal Flavour was dating ). She just need some new furniture cause tables old as her .

    In Dallas go to Aso Rock on Skillman .

    But in general Nigerians need to step it on the customer service tip !

  30. Selfless

    June 21, 2016 at 5:12 am

    Hi guys, does anyone know of any nice naija restaurant in Toronto with really great food? I get tired of my cooking sometimes and would like to eat some naija made food. Thanks.

    • Femi Shine

      June 21, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Welcome to my world …Theres a place in the west, Ola something. Their food is nice.

  31. Tunmi

    June 21, 2016 at 5:19 am

    I’ve been to two in Maryland – Prince George’s County to be precise. De Ranch has really good peppersoup and that’s about it. The place needs a serious makeover in terms of furnishing. I took my friends for a sit down dinner and, let’s just say we shall not be doing that again.

    Another one is Joyful African cuisine in Lanham and I can safely attest that the food is very good (De Ranch still takes the trophy with pepper soup) and the decor is pleasant. I have happily taken friends here multiple times.

  32. BooBae

    June 21, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Come to Kiza in Dubai. The new location.
    Overpriced and extremely slow service but grear ambience and pumping live band.

  33. Toluwalope

    June 21, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Now I think I’m the only person here who hasn’t travelled out of this Naija……Na wa o. Abeg anybody don chop for Alaga for Abeokuta before?

    • Luqman

      June 21, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Alaga for Abeokuta….Lol, I will love to patronize them. Even if it’s just for me to sit with a cab man yearning Egba dialect (segbamirewa).

    • Mama

      June 21, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Lol, that’s because the post is specific to Nigerian restaurants abroad and mostly “Abroadians” (just coined this word) are commenting. Don’t worry, your time will come!

  34. sultana

    June 21, 2016 at 9:52 am

    There’s a popular Naija restaurant near the gold souk in Dubai, i forget the name. food is mostly ok. its a buffet thing and surprisingly cheap. however the interior can still be worked on. They have table clothes like the ones in Naija bukas- that big check school uniform-ish that comes in red and blue. Its not as fancy as arab restaurants but at least you get Naija food.

  35. aurora

    June 21, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Nigerian restaurants really need to take a cue from the Asian restaurants. its not always about the money and profit margin. if you do well, your business will continue to grow and possibly expand. its that get rich quick mentality that most Nigerians have and bring into business. i have adjusted my taste buds. will eat pasta, rice and potatoes until i visit Nigeria, then i will eat vegetable soup, isiewu and cat fish peppersoup. cannorkillmasef

  36. Any recommended ones in London asides 805 pls?

    June 21, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Abeg I crave peppered snails like yummy ones and a simple Naija restauarant which won’t break my bank

    • Abbey

      August 27, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      There is one in Lewisham just wondering why no one has mentioned it. I heard alot of good reviews about it maybe you should try it and let us know Enish restaurant..waiting

  37. DOO

    June 21, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Nigerian restaurants are never in posh locations; always in the hood!

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      June 21, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      … but, to be fair, a good number of Asian food businesses start off in the hood as well, selling take-outs until they expand and start selling the food with more poshness…. ?

      And I think that’s something we’re missing in the marketing of Nigerian food. My own observation of Britons is that their initial introduction to foreign food starts from ordering take-outs. Then they acquire a taste for it and the food gradually starts to gain a permanent place in their regular diet (i.e.the Friday night Indian roti take-away or the Tuesday night Malay order).

      Then they want to sit down in restaurants with friends and family to eat it and Boom! The Asian food industry became established in the UK.

      We’re not thinking very widely like that yet about Nigerian food, we seem to only be focused on selling it to Nigerians. Once we start focusing on gaining a corner of the takeout market with our cuisine, plenty will change in terms of how we present our meals and service.

    • slice

      June 21, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      My sister I think the issue with ys is nt getting at least one thing right. If u walk into a dingy looking Chinese restaurant and pay ten bucks for slap yo mama food , you might still return. You’ll say the place lookjs funny but the food is good. But hear the complaints of our own. Funny looking, horrible food bad bathroom bad attitude. We need to at least get one or two of the elements for success .

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      @Doo, 805 in Hendon is located in a semi-affluent Jewish area. Houses start from £800,000, that’s about 1.2million dollars.

  38. Ever Green

    June 21, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Nawa una dey make us jealous oh, eyin ero ilu oba… well sha me sef i go comment by force…. When you are in Obalende try Iya Eba………………….

  39. tilly

    June 21, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Atoke nice write up as usual does this mean we will get our usual Monday Tonic(in Frank Olize’s voice) . missed you write ups and that of Nicole the fertile chick

  40. Observer

    June 21, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    280 Degrees on Kilburn High Road tops it when it comes to bad service.. Also, ask for your receipt. They dont like giving reciepts for some reason.

  41. Sisi

    June 21, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    You people are complaining as if you don’t know our people SMH, it’s terrible but I am sure you can correlate it to the general cultural and behavioural (stereotypes based on truth) traits recongnized in Nigerians at home and abroad. We talk about change, but it is the people that need to change from the top of the chain right down to the bottom, without it this is how we will continue to complain about seemingly unimportant things such as our tailors, restaurants etc. On that note 805 is a good shout in London, slightly overpriced but worth it in comparison. Buka in NY, the food I ate was tasty and fresh enough but the ambience and decor is just as Atoke described. I love eating Nigerian food outside of the home – some of these meals are a real labour of love hence they feel like a treat. They all need to take note from the bloggers/social media gurus that are redefining the narrative/visuals around Nigerian food.

  42. Beht wait a second

    June 21, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Y’all should stop for a second.

    1. Who are the so called Nigerians?
    Are you exempted from the so called Nigerians? Aint you one of them?

    2. If you realize a lag in the business, why cant you start up one and set a record?
    Naa, y’all will sit here and judge
    You will never start up one, all you do is complain

    3. Which kind of restaurants do you patronize?
    Comon shut up and let me hear word
    You will go to a $1 dollar store and expect them to serve you $100 service?
    Where you go determines what you get
    If you go to a buka, what kind of service do you expect?

    4. You all have some complex.
    When you enter chinese restaurant, even though they treat you like shit, you sit and eat irrespective of the time they bring your food. When it comes to a fellow-country man, you always expect that they owe you shit cos you patronizing them

    5. Some of you are mentally abnormal.
    See some of you talking about respect
    What respect?
    You pay, they render the service
    Cos you come from the same tribe/country, they should start kneeling down for you?
    comot jo

    6. Na you women get issue pass
    We dont see the men coming to complain, its you ladies
    When your mama was teaching you how to cook at home, you refused to be trained.
    Following boys upandan, cant cook even indomie without burning it
    now looking for where to eat upandan

    7. Dem force you?
    Naa. It i snot by force
    Sit down in your house and dont patronize them
    Then force you to go there?
    Comon go to where the food is $200 per plate and enjoy yhe service
    For where? you wont!
    You will still be begging the ones to put for you
    Mama, put na, Mama put

    • Observer

      June 21, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Pls shut up! In your mind, you think you have written one worthy epistle. We have every right to complain about bad service whether the food is cheap or what not. Chinese food is cheap yet you dont have the amount of complaints Nigerian restaurants generate. Abeg carry go jor.

    • missnk

      June 21, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      oh shut it!!! I’m sure your restaurant is one of the ones listed above for terrible service and you’re barking like a wild animal and making invalid points. These are areas you should work on but no oh, customers cannot cook, customers are pursuing boys up and down, customers this and that. If you cannot render a decent service, close and go home. Running a Business isn’t for everyone.

    • Corolla

      June 22, 2016 at 3:05 am

      @Beht wait, honestly, you are the most stupid person I have encountered in a long while. So you read the all the comments, and your critical thinking skills led you to write this dumb epistle? O ma se o #Olodojatijati

    • Me

      June 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      So because I had a bad flight and complained I should now run an airline business. Or cos I got bad service at tesco, I would open my own supermarket in protest. Keep quiet and receive brain child!!

      Nigerians are always defensive when a wrong is pointed out to them. How will you improve if you don’t listen to constructive criticism?? This is why you will forever be mediocre!

      If I go somewhere and I get shitty service, I complain. If nothing is done, I never return. I don’t care what kinda establishment it is or what ethnicity the person is from. If I’m paying for something, I demand my money’s worth. Simple!!

  43. Sols

    June 21, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    I totally disagree with you Atoke. You topic states Nigerian Restaurants abroad but you only have visibility or just referring to London. I live in America and most of the Nigerian resturant are not in line with your outline. So please make sure your subject line is accurate

    • slice

      June 21, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      Where in the u.s do you live. We have witnesses for Houston Dallas atl DMV and new york. Maybe u live somewhere that has good ones. Pls share

    • Corolla

      June 26, 2016 at 4:23 am

      I can attest to Suya Joint in Boston. I vsited once when I was there earlier this year, and I was impressed with the food, and ambience. The nkwobi wasnt too great, but everything else was awesome. For once, a Najja restaurant without the dingy lights.

  44. Tolu

    June 21, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    As much as I love my food, I always feel uncomfortable in the Nigerian restaurants in London. If you happen to be by yourself or a group of females, they will just stare at you rudely and make you feel uncomfortable! You feel like a prey in the midst of predators…LOL

    With that said, I haven’t been to all Nigerian restaurants in London but here’s what I can say about the ones I have been to

    805 (old kent road) – overpriced but at least you can feel comfortable enough to eat and not feel threatened
    508 (Hendon) – small than old kent road but I got the same “comfortable” vibe
    Wazobia (Hendon), think it’s changed name – it was just there!
    Tomi’s Kitchen (Hackney) – Don’t bother going for a sit down meal cause it’s rundown but the food is banging so order to take away
    Coal City (Silver street/Edmonton) – Overpriced
    Tasty (Stratford) – tiny space but the food was good and their customer service over the phone was decent too

    Now we keep saying they should learn from Asian and other foreign restaurants but they aren’t great either…I get the same “uncomfortable” feeling when I go into Peppers & Spice (Jamaican) and waiters in Asian restaurants can be rude, I’m tempted to say discriminatory but i’ll leave it as rude.

    All in all, the state of these restaurants are a reflection of the attitude in Nigeria itself. Customer service is non existent so why do you think they will get to Obodo Oyinbo and change their behaviour? It’s sad but that’s what it is.

  45. MamaCALABAR

    June 21, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Mama CALABAR in London isn;t Bad Ohhh

  46. Ada

    June 21, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    @Sols but so many American based Bners have commented about experiencing bad food and service in America too. Did u not read the comments or u just read the heading and jumped to comment?

  47. Beht wait a second

    June 21, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    You are silly
    You have every right? Ode
    get right for your fathers house not another persons business

    Common indomie you cannot cook, you will be looking for where tro eat upandan
    You are a waste of your mothers effort

    • Beht wait a second

      June 21, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      @observer

    • Bleed Blue

      June 21, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      Why?

      Just. Why?! ?

  48. Chop chop

    June 21, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Speaking for the DMV,
    I once went to Zions kitchen in DC, saw a rat and it was a wrap.
    Kingsway restaurant is decent. The cooks need to be more consistent though. Thier pastries are always bae.
    Peju’s Kitchen has good decor and good food.
    Queensway is UGH.

  49. OA

    June 21, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    I will talk about my experiences in Italy, Napoli and Valenza to be precise because as long as I have access to a kitchen in my country of abode, no way you will see me in anybody’s Naija restaurant – one thing I know I can do, even though I hate doing it is “cook”.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of the restaurants, but I remember when I first started going to Napoli, I used to be excited about eating ogbono and eba or iyan at one particular restaurant. As the years progressed, I found that the turnover of the restaurants was rather high. You would return and the restaurant would have closed. Then there was one that it was obvious they added salt and water to the soup everyday till it finished and they had to cook a brand new batch. It was disgusting. The last time I went, I must say I enjoyed my ogbono with stockfish and iyan though I suspect restaurant had changed hands. In Naples, it got to the point that I stopped going to restaurants and will just buy rice and beans on the street – there is one girl/lady that sells from a pram! She used to sell from a wheel barrow, then upgraded…LOL! I am not kidding, but her food was very sweet. Didn’t see her the last time I went. Customer service in all places has always been very okay.

    In Valenza, being a small Italian town, there is no Naija restaurant, but thank God for one of the ladies who married Italo man and moved there, she cooks in her house and one of the gold sellers, calls her to tell her what you want (very limited menu though). I always go for the iyan and ogbono and or efo with fried kpanla fish. She has never disappointed me before. I make sure she brings it just before I retire to my hotel room (steaming hot), then I will baff, put powder on my face, sit down and whack the food as if it is my last supper!

    • slice

      June 21, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      One thing is sure iyan and ogbono is your food

  50. Ij

    June 21, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    The Turkish restaurants in my opinion have the winning formula, always more than enough food for the price, customer service is 10/10, they know how to take care of their customers, no wonder they are always packed
    Nigerian restaurants can learn a thing or two from them.
    I always eat before I go to a Nigerian restaurant because the waiting time can be as long as 1hr 30mins , with no apologies oh

  51. Bolutife

    June 21, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Ike”s Cafe in Atlanta was even in the news for the wrong stuff. The American inspectors found dead rats, roaches, uncovered food, meat and fishes that were not properly preserved. It was all over the news and newspapers. Omo mehn, I no chop there again.

  52. missnk

    June 21, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    I’ve tried quite a number of Nigerian restaurants and I’m fed up.
    The roots in manchester started off really well. I went there a few times and their service deteriorated to the point that I gave up. On a friday night, they didn’t have plantain, the jollof came out cold, as in frozen cold after waiting for easily 45minutes.
    805 is only fairly decent, I never go during the weekends as the service is extra slow then.

  53. o

    June 21, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    If you’re in Coventry area you may want to try the Palms. Ambience is nothing to write home about. But their food is really tasty n huge portions too.

  54. nunulicious

    June 21, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    @Lala,
    thumbs up to your idea to start the food business!
    About the name though, you may want to play up the mystic oyibo people have about ‘Africa’ you know how they think of us as the dark continent/roots/origin of man. Think of that also with the frame of mind that we seem to have this self-awakening (think increase in natural hair, shona rhimes, black-sih etc)

    About the ambience, you know how we like live band and suya and cold bottles of beer? why don’t you incorporate that into the business somehow? plus i like the idea of a weekend only thingy-fri, sat, sun. On weekdays, do only bulk deliveries/pans.

    finally, about advertising target awon adventurous oyinbos or globe trotters. NOT Nigerians! once word gets around about how great this restaurant is, your Nigerian target market will then turn up.
    all the best. hope this works out well for you!

    • Lala

      June 21, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      Thanks nunulicious, I will test and try. I am leaning more toward the British public with the Moroccan and South African dishes. Moroccan dishes are big in the UK, they don’t look at it as African. Think of Sidi Marouf in central London., they have multiple Moroccan restaurants in central London. South African food is quite popular as well. Nigerians will always come if it’s moving with clientele from non-Noherians. What this feedback tells me is not to peg my bread and butter solely on Nigerian clientele. Also, the name has to go- something more inclusive will do, so I don’t isolate, can’t afford to loose money.

      Thanks to everyone who contributed. Much appreciated, I will take all the best bits.

  55. Ib

    June 21, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    805 = long wait

    Wazobia = semi sweet, long wait. Expect to wait one hour

    Banana = ajinomoto taste. Too much salt. You must draw the chef ear or else, salt will kill you

    Aso rock dalston = bleh . Just there

    Eko Hackney = sometimes bleh

    042 Leytonstone = their moniker fish is actually nice. Come ready to wait. They are trying

    Enish lewisham = nice pepper soup. Affordable. Large portion. Stay agile or else you will wait tire.

  56. Nike

    June 22, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Whenever I see the horrible decor I imagine they’re trying to replicate the bukka atmosphere in Nigeria, forgetting that health and sanitation inspections are non-existent in Nigeria. You won’t believe that some of the Nigerian restaurants I’ve been to in Atlanta have linoleum table covers!

    I finally went to Nation’s Cafe and the food was nice but we had to wait for at least an hour to pick up our order even my friend and I called to place our order before driving down. The general lackadaisical attitude we have to our customers at home comes through abroad. Most Nigerians will manage other people’s businesses and customers right and then treat other Nigerians with disdain.

    I have vowed not to go to any Nigerian restaurant abroad again, there is rice, eba, egusi and efo riro at home.

  57. TechnicallyNigerian

    July 27, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Aunty Atoke I understand your disappointment but things would soon change for the better. I am working towards opening a classy Nigerian restaurant in the Chicago area, so look out for it. You will be proud to bring your foreign colleagues there. If you want to invest in the dream too, please let me know.

  58. Keez

    November 12, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    I have been going to the African Kitchen in Paris almost every week since I’ve been in Paris for three years now. I can’t stop. I can attest to the customer-oriented service here including birthday and special discounts. The staff is polite and courteous and the place is very clean without the funny smells one read for other places. I’ve taken my friends there and we’ve never had reasons for disappointment. Food has the strong Nigerian flavour and a relaxed atmosphere for camaraderie devoid of loud arguments or show-offism we Nigerians are known for. Food is reasonably well priced (<€20 for almost all individual dishes). The gizzard mixed with plantain and salad will wow everyone.

    Having savored Nigerian delicacies in Nigerian restaurants in other countries in Europe and the US, the African Kitchen in Paris comes tops. I have seen more foreigners here than elsewhere.

    Give it a try whenever you are in Paris. Remember to make a reservation as it gets busy sometimes. Don't miss it.

  59. Abbs

    December 22, 2016 at 11:07 am

    for the lady that wants to start the buffet

    My dear , go for it!
    Ambiance is the key , if u’ve got great ambiance and vibes , u can even go for £30 n u will will get classy ppl through ur doors..

  60. Anon

    December 23, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Just stopping to recommend Enish in Lewisham. 805 was what I considered to be the best run Nigerian restaurant South London (can’t Comment on north as I haven’t been) until Enish opened around 5 years ago. The set up ambience and service is great. Food is decent too. So it beats 805 in my view.

    Taste has good food but is clearly set up as a takeaway service and not a restaurant.

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