With its nicknames of ‘Little Lagos’ and ‘Yorubatown’, the south-east London district that’s Peckham can unsurprisingly lay claim to a large Nigerian population. Fair dos, this may not be the biggest reason for visitors to the UK capital from Western Africa to actively spend time in the area (why visit a home away from home?), yet if you are travelling to London from that part of the world and fancy some good, quality Nigerian food at some point during your stay, you may want to head Peckham-wards because it features some outstanding restaurants. Indeed, here are just four of them…
Obalende Suya Express
(43 Peckham High Street SE15 5EB)
Suya is essentially Nigerian street BBQ food, where the meat’s accompanied by spice and peanuts. And delicious is it too – especially at this place, where the smell of smoke and coals emanating from its vast, pretty fierce grill proves intoxicating as soon as you walk in. Admittedly you may want to avoid one or two of the more charmingly left-field choices on the menu (gizzard and ‘crocodile/ shark’?) and, instead, opt for the excellent, soft-in-the-middle beef served on a skewer, with the traditional additions of jollof rice, suya spice and an onion and tomato salad.
805 Bar and Restaurant
(805 Old Kent Road SE15 1NX)
If you fancy truly home-style dining then 805 has your number, so to speak. Always lively and informal, it’s a welcoming place – and the quality of the food complements the atmosphere perfectly, undoubtedly ensuring it’s one of the best London Nigerian restaurants. Especially recommended is its version of the stalwart that’s stewed cow’s foot (as the foot breaks down during the cooking, gelatin is released providing a delicious, sticky state to the sauce). Look out too for the grilled fish, the pepper soup and the fine sides like jollof rice. For those likely to spend most of their time north of the river in London, there’s also an 805 worth checking out in Hendon – which may be easier (or more suitable) to get to should you be staying at, say, accommodation near Brewery Road London City.
(38 Choumert Road SE15 4SE)
Given this little place’s menu is never set in stone, you may be thinking this lackadaisical approach extends to the cooking – but not at all. Absolutely not at all. So good are the traditional dishes served up at this establishment that it waltzes its way on to this list. The likes of groundut soup and the melon seed-based egusi soup are to die for, while the aroma of scotch bonnet chillies that wafts its way down the street before you even get to the front door is simply irresistible.
(88 Rye Lane SE15 4RZ)
Finally, another firm favourite of Peckham’s Nigerian community, this is a snack joint that enjoys lively custom day and night, with regulars inside and out as they snack and chat. The food’s far from bad too, with traditional treats of the West African palate a mainstay such as the steamed bean pudding that’s moin moin and the doughnut-like puff puffs. A must-visit for anyone wanting to discover London’s own particular take on the Nigerian vibe.