West African restaurant Akoko confirms October opening date

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

West African restaurant Akoko opens October Fitzrovia head chef William JM Chilila MasterChef: The Professionals finalist

Related tags: Restaurant, London, Fine dining, MasterChef: The Professionals, African cuisine

'Progressive and elevated' West African restaurant Akoko will finally open its doors in London's Fitzrovia in early October.

The restaurant, which was originally slated​ to open in October last year, will be headed up by former MasterChef: The Professionals finalist William JM Chilila, who previously spent nearly 10 years rising through the ranks at Orrery in Marylebone. 

Akoko will be his first head chef role.

Founded by British Nigerian Aji Akokomi, who has taken inspiration from family recipes and his travels across West Africa, the restaurant 'will pay homage to the country's culinary heritage by using recipes passed down through generations and traditional cooking techniques of smoking, curing and fermenting to maximise the flavours and textures of the ingredients'.

The name, which translates to ‘time’ and also ’the first’ in Yoruba, will 'take Londoners on a journey that celebrates the richness, vibrancy and diversity' of the Saharan region.

Chilila’s menu will include dishes of smoked goat served with jollof rice; pounded yam with native lobster egusi; grilled aged beef suya with caramelised onion and confit tomato; and a dessert of goat milk ice cream with uda burnt cream and caramelised Ghanaian cocoa butter.

The wine offering, meanwhile, will be overseen by former Noma Mexico and Nuala London sommelier Honey Spencer and her business partner Ania Smelskaya, previously of Silo. 

Interiors will be designed by René Dekker Design ‘to showcase the natural beauty, simplicity and earthiness of West African rural areas’.

There will also be contemporary African art by Niyi Olagunju on display, as well as bespoke ceramics inspired by the 60s-era West African ‘Queen of Pottery’ Ladi Kwali and designed by artists including Andile Dyalvane, Kat Wheeler Ceramics and Jun Rhee.

Akoko follows in the footsteps of other London restaurants that have positioned themselves as offering a contemporary take on West African cuisine including Iré Hassan-Odukale and Jeremy Chan’s Michelin-starred Ikoyi​ in St James's; and more recently Ifeyinwa and Emeka Frederick's Nigerian tapas concept Chuku's​, which opened its first bricks and mortar site in Tottenham earlier this year. 

Related topics: Venues

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