Zoe's Ghana Kitchen, Hackney: restaurant review
Having made a name at Pop Brixton, Zoe's Ghana Kitchen brings a modern, mouthwatering take on West African food to Hackney's Institute of Light
What's the draw:
Despite London being a city where you can get your hands on just about any national cuisine going, West African food remains less well represented than it should be. Zoe Adjonyoh, the chef behind Zoe's Ghana Kitchen, is working to change all that by bringing a modern twist and a deft touch to traditional Ghanaian cooking. Her restaurant recently upped sticks, leaving Pop Brixton to take up a new residency under the railway arches at Hackney's Institute of Light, with a bigger space and an expanded menu.
What to drink:
Given the levels of spice and the informal atmosphere, there's an obvious choice here: beer, either local craft or Ghanaian, and if you opt for the latter, it comes in absolutely enormous bottles. Don't say we didn't warn you. There's wine, cocktails and non-boozy bevs, too, though, so you'll be well looked after, no matter your preferences.
What to eat:
They say curiosity killed the cat, but in this case it just made it very full of tasty food. This is the place to sample the dishes that form the heart of Ghanaian cooking: jollof (a rice dish), red red (a spicy bean stew) and kenkey – balls of fermented maize dough that might not be everyone's cup of tea, but are worth trying just for the flakey grilled sardine they come with. That said, you should definitely save space for Adjonyoh's modern use of Ghanaian ingredients, like the jollof fried chicken with shito chilli mayo; beef chichinga kebabs with addictive peanut sauce; mashed yam oto cakes; and crunchy-but-gooey, sweet-but-salty yam balls paired with hotter-than-hot black shito sauce. But one thing you absolutely must not miss is the scotch bonnet ice cream – unexpectedly creamy, with a punchy chilli kick to finish. More, please.
Mains from £7.50; beers from £TK. The Institute of Light, Arch 376, Helmsley Place, E8 3SB. zoesghanakitchen.co.uk