Published 7 April 2021
Opening in between the first and second lockdown, Akoko showcases the beauty of West Africa through its food. This week we speak to the founder Aji Akokomi, who tells us more about the ethos of the restaurant, the highs and lows of opening in a pandemic and the meal he would eat for the rest of his life.
I have personally found it to be reflective, hard at times but the long pause has provided an opportunity for the team to come together. I have enjoyed developing with the chefs, making sure that the story and traditions behind each dish is evident for all to see.
Our aim is to showcase the beauty of West Africa through the ingredients, flavours and cooking techniques that are native to the region. We are a West African restaurant in London and we serve high quality produce from African and British suppliers with an emphasis on sustainability.
Our menu features classic West African dishes like Jollof rice and Guinea Hen Yassa, distinctive flavoursome ingredients such as Ogiri (melon seed miso), Iru (also known as Dawadawa – fermented locust beans), Fonio (a nutritious grain native to Senegal) alongside innovative snacks like the Gambian take on grilled Oyster or Veal cheeks Bofrot; a Ghanaian savoury doughnut with a veal cheeks stuffing, dusted with sorghum and beetroot spice.
It would be the Crab Miyan Taushe soup (crab meat, ehuru spice, smoked pumpkin). The simple, humble soup has been a favourite with diners for its depth of flavour and tasty surprises – a spoonful produces an umami explosion in the mouth.
It was bitter sweet. First it was the excitement of finally opening the restaurant after many years of planning, the joy of seeing the vision come alive, and then too quickly the fear of how to get through the lockdowns. We have been taking each day at a time, we have a great team of individuals all working hard, creating and developing for the reopening. We can’t wait to share the exciting new menu and drinks offering.
Seeing the vision come alive.
Opening a restaurant during a pandemic.
We are grateful to our customers and supporters, the endorsement is encouraging. I think our ethos to promote West African cuisine and the fact that our offering is unique is helping us to grow organically. We have a lot of content, new ingredients, new dishes, new works of art that we share via our social media, this attracts the public’s curiosity. Our PR team AKA Communications have been a pillar of support from the very beginning of this journey.
You must be passionate about the offering, you must want to open a restaurant for the love of serving others not for financial gains. It is important to surround yourself with excellent people. A major determinant of the success of a restaurant is the quality of the team in the kitchen and front of house.
Just one….. then it would be the Crab Miyan Taushe, apart from being delicious it is also very nutritious.