Nigeria: Naija Hot 

Afrobeat Kitchen – 1510 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6R 1A4
Country: Nigeria    
Seating: Intimate indoor seating with a charming back patio. 
Dinner guests: Pornstar Sam & Suited Sebastien
Must-try dish: Miso Mafe Stew
The high: An excellent restaurant to get acquainted with West African cuisine. 
The low: Anyone allergic to peanuts, stay far, far away from here. 

Anyone who likes extreme spice in their foods like it naija hot. This Nigerian hot sauce is usually lathered in the dishes but at Afrobeat Kitchen, you can get it on the side. The tricky thing about naija sauce is that the first few seconds make it tolerable, and then all of a sudden the heat hits you like a bus. But it’s worth a try, if only once. 

During one of Toronto’s lockdowns, Afrobeat Kitchen was operating in a cafe so Mandrea Bike and friends got takeout, learn about our first time by reading the post titled Get Your Hands on the Fufu. Needless to say, we loved it and we returned for the real thing in their Parkdale restaurant.  

Having a meal inside Afrobeat was a superior experience from the dishes coming out hot, chatting with the staff, and watching the other tables enjoy West African recipes. The crowd is varied and the space is constantly full, even on a rainy Wednesday night. The mood lighting was nice contrasting the exposed brick wall and artwork. This is where you want to take someone who loves food and travel – they’ll be impressed. 

The meal was kicked off with three appetizers. 

Shrimp Surfers: The menu refers to it as a party bite, and we’re in agreement. Each serving comes with three pieces of grilled shrimp perched on top of avocado and pepper hot sauce on a double-fried plantain base. It’s one of the savoury variations of plantain so the other flavours take front stage. It’s fresh, delicious, and the uncontested favourite of the first course. The plantain is on the thicker-side similar to a cracker so it easily holds the other ingredients. We had to order another round. It was so good. 

Sticky Suya Hot Wings: For a gang of not wing non-believers, these changed our opinion on the things. They are medium sized with a fragrant rub that has a hint of cinnamon. You can enjoy them simply as they come, or with naija hot sauce to get a little kick. 

Yaaji CAULI-mari: A play on fried calamari, this dish barely tastes fried because of its lightness. It’s perfect to share with a group, and can be a vehicle to attempt a taste at naija sauce. 

The second course were larger plates that came with sides of coconut rice or pounded yam aka fufu. 

Miso Mafe Stew: This dish is jaw droppingly good – it’s vegan, and even among the meat and seafood dishes on the tables, this dish shines brighter than the rest. The key is the sauce – that peanut and miso combination coated on the vegetables is tasted in every bite. The blend of textures is also an asset – chickpeas, eggplant, and jackfruit are the base and we chose coconut rice as the side to pick up every drip of the sauce. You can’t go to Afrobeat Kitchen without tasting this! 

Party Jollof: This traditional West African dish has a unique flair in each country, and the people from that country prefer theirs the most. The flavour profile isn’t your usual mix – spice, smoke, lemongrass, star anise, and crawfish. The rice is slow-cooked and served with chicken. There are protein options, but the chicken pairs well with the variety of seasonings. 

Buka Beef: This saucy stew made with chunks of beef in a fiery tomato and pepper sauce comes with coconut rice and a couple sweet plantains that play a trick on your taste buds. The dish hails from Nigeria’s largest city Lagos where it’s a popular street food. It accompanies the Miso Mafe Stew and the Jollof Rice well since it’s a little heavier. 

Egusi & Greens: This wasn’t the most loved dishes amongst our group, unfortunately. The ingredients were fresh and well cooked, but the taste didn’t excite our taste buds like the rest of the dishes did. This is likely due to either the melon seed or the salty stock fish, both of which are flavours that we’d never experienced. This being said, we would love to try it again with less of both those elements added into the fish.

We’re thrilled to have had the privilege of eating inside Afrobeat Kitchen’s restaurant for the first time, and look forward to more meals there. These terrific recipes need to be shared with Torontonians since there are few Nigerian and West African places to try that also have a hip vibe. Congratulations on the new space and we look forward to watching this great restaurant evolve. 

Eat with you soon, 

Mandrea Bike
(Mat & Andrea)

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