With Pitanga Chef Nky Iweka Introduces The Joy And Flavours Of Nigerian Food With A Twist To London
Long before COVID-19 appeared and reminded us how interwoven we as humans have become the world was already shrinking, borders were being blurred and it was becoming one big global village. Two major factors that have spurred this metamorphosis have been music and food. We listen to everything from everywhere just as food from all over the world now graces our tables.
Koreans eat pizza, Samoans sauerkraut, Swedes ugali, Germans couscous and Russians Jollof. The variety of what we now consider staples in our respective households regardless of location, is absolutely mind-boggling. However, it goes without saying that some people or places make a particular type of food better than others because it is inherently theirs and they know it inside out. They have been handed down traditional secrets on how best to coax the best flavours out of their assorted ingredients and to produce masterpieces beyond reproach.
One such a place is Pitanga in London where Chef Nky Iweka has taken Nigerian food to the next level by serving it with a refreshing new twist which has resulted in the restaurant being one of London's best-kept secrets culinary wise.
Ever since it opened on the 31st of May, 2018 Chef Iweka, who has now been bestowed with the esteemed title of Executive Mamaput, has continued to push the envelope by presenting traditional Nigeria dishes in new exciting ways while retaining their authenticity earning her a slew of accolades including a Restaurant Guru star last year.
A First Class Honours Computer major and with an MSc in Applied Mathematics in the bag, Iweka's true love however is food and it clearly shows. She draws on her Anglo-Nigerian roots and other influences to create new dishes based on Nigerian ingredients. Coming from a house of foodies, for as long as she can remember she has been fascinated by the sights, sounds and smells that emerged from her Granny's and Mum's kitchens - who by the way made all their bread, jams, sausages and even cured their bacon. Like a thirsty sponge, she soaked up everything and has now become a tour de force herself focusing on cross-cultural culinary influences
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Pitanga is a small cherry initially indigenous to South America but now grown throughout the tropics. What makes it so unique is that the fruits from a single twig can not only vary in colour from green to orange to red but in taste as well from tart to sugary sweet. You never know what to expect when you bite into one of the fruits other than it will be tasty, and this is why the name Pitanga is so appropriate for the Executive Mamaput's experience.
We say this because in a market already crowded with so many Nigerian eateries what makes Pitanga so unique is that it is probably the only Nigerian restaurant in London with an open-plan kitchen. In addition to this, the menu keeps evolving to embrace the seasons and take advantage of what is freshest.
Furthermore, their customer service and presentation skills are unrivalled as well as their ability to pair the appropriate drinks with dishes being served. From the refreshing bitterness of a Guinness or a frosty fruit juice, they know what goes with what. Known for their all-day breakfast ( noon to 4 Pm ) and such house staples as sand-roasted peanuts, Jollof Balls, the just newly introduced Goat Burgers, and a slew of small chop platters the restaurant also boasts of one of the most comprehensive Vegetarian menus seen in a Nigerian restaurant. This alone has spawned quite a large faithful following.
Then there is the amazing soup section where with her uncanny supply of veggies from near and far, Iweka churns out such an array of deliciousness that you have to pinch yourself to make sure you are actually in London and not back home in a top-notch Nigerian establishment. Two absolute blue-chippers are her Oha soup and of course, leaning on her Obosi roots, the famous bitter leaf soup made the Anambra way with chunky leaves and a vast array of spices including Ogili. At this point it would be felonious not to mention the traditional royal soup of the Cross River people, Edikang Ikong which is served thick and sexy and almost void of liquid just like the Calabar Kings and Queens are accustomed to.
Pitanga is located in a bright vibrant family-friendly space which many customers say makes them feel right at home at 220 North End Road in London and offers free on-street parking after 5 pm weekdays and all day weekends. It is also conveniently located near two Metro stations namely West Brompton and West Kensington.
Bucketlist Pitanga today and go visit the Executive Mamaput, you won't be disappointed and if you are unable to go now, remember that Pitanga in conjunction with Deliveroo & Uber Eats also delivers and has created a special electronic menu aimed at bringing you the best of the best to your home while adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols.