Step inside Akoko and you’ll find yourself in an oasis of warmth, energy and serenity of West Africa on the streets of central London.
Founded by Aji Akokomi, Fitzrovia’s celebrated West African restaurant, Akoko, has re-opened to the delight of many, and this time with the highly acclaimed Chef Theo Clench of Portland and Bonhams at the helm. Aji spent many months working side by side with Theo, teaching him the intricacies and foundations of much-loved West African dishes and his three pillars of West African cooking – fire, umami, spice. Theo, using his immense culinary expertise has gone on to create incredibly imaginative and beautifully crafted dishes that make up the exquisite menu at Akoko.
“Learning new skills from Aji has been such a fantastic experience. I am constantly learning and perfecting dishes using traditional recipes, innovative techniques and ingredients that I have fallen in love with. Every day is a challenge and a learning experience, and as a chef, that’s what keeps us passionate and driven in our jobs. The spicing of the dishes is such a delicate balance, and I’m using spices that taste like nothing I’ve tried before that bring incredible depth and flavour to each dish – Grains of Paradise, Grains of Selim, Calabash Nutmeg and Scotch Bonnets to name just a few.” – Executive Chef, Theo Clench
The dining experience at Akoko is consistently surprising and exciting. Diners can choose from a six or nine course tasting menu which has been designed to showcase the ethos of Akoko – celebrating West African dining elevated to levels not seen before. Other than the traditional spices used, Theo only cooks with the highest quality British produce including turbot, lamb and quail. Diners can look forward to dishes such as Gambian Oyster – oyster cooked on coals served with Gambian oyster stew; Cornish Turbot – slow cooked turbot; Jollof Rice – jollof rice, carrot terrine, Ivorian aubergine sauce and Caramelised Agege, Grilled Pineapple, Iru Ice Cream.
“I wanted to ensure that my guests always have the opportunity to try ingredients and flavours they may not have known before. I thought the best way to do this would be to offer only set menus, that way each guest is given the complete Akoko experience” – Owner, Aji Akokomi
As well as the beautiful food, the design of the restaurant itself transports you to warmer climates. Clay terracotta walls lit warmly surround handcrafted wooden tables and an open kitchen where diners can sit and eat on a counter by the pass and watch the chefs at work. A chic bar in the corner serves up exciting and unusual cocktails where guests can enjoy a nibble and a drink before dining if they so choose.
A sensational wine list has been cleverly curated by Honey Spencer & Ania Smelskaya designed to channel the spirit of Akoko: singular flavours that take us on a journey and tell the story of their origin.
Akoko is something truly special, and those desperate for a spot of sunshine in the UK need to look no further than here.
Akoko is open every Saturday for lunch and Wednesday to Saturday for dinner.