Nok by Alara
Nok by Alara has been around for a while and for some reason every effort to check this place out always had some sort of comma. Thankfully, Visa Restaurant Week came around with set discounted prices for Lunch and Dinner saving me some coins.
Nok by Alara describes itself as a contemporary African restaurant giving African food an innovative twist. When this first opened, I kept wondering how fine dining African food was going to work and finally had the opportunity to eat here during the Visa Card Restaurant Week. This place is beautifully and tastefully done – from the architecture to the design, décor, the attires by staff and even the accessories. You can tell that it was deeply thought through without looking over African (don’t know how else to explain)
There are set menus and set prices for Visa Restaurant Week with Lunch being N7,000 exclusive of VAT, drinks and other charges. For starters, we had the Plantain Beignets and Goat Roll. I’m very big on Mosa and the Plantain Beignets was a nice fusion of Puff Puff and Mosa. This was paired with a tomato paste sauce.
The Goat Rolls were like spring rolls but with Goat Meat filling which was quite spicy and paired with Shito sauce.
Drinks were not part of the set menu at Nok and are quite pricey. Went for the Elderflower Mojito which was very tingling and had a sharp zesty taste. For this slim tall glass, didn’t think the price was worth it and was quite disappointed.
For some reason, the service was quite poor. We were only 4 in the whole restaurant sharing two different tables and the timing between when the order was taken and the main course was brought out was about 50 mins. For a restaurant that was not busy in the early afternoon, it was quite annoying even though the waiter kept apologizing for the delay and by then, I had finished my drink -_-
A part of me was worried that I had entered one chance with the main course since it was taking such a while
For the mains, we had the Oxtail Melt and Fried Chicken Sandwich. The Oxtail Melt was extremely peppery and spicy; so if you are not the type that likes pepper, you are going to hate it. The Oxtail Melt was bits and pieces of spicy Oxtail in Pita Bread or if you like Mexican, it’s like a quesadilla with three pieces of Sweetened Yam Chips, Coleslaw and a Tomato paste. I kind of enjoyed this but not a whole lot.
The Fried Chicken Sandwich is really just tastefully done Fried Chicken with Shito and Mayo in a Sandwich. The bun was soft (as it should be) but not memorable and is not something I would order on another visit. I feel like the supposed innovative twist is a bit too much taking away what African food should really be. My friend describes this as ‘African Food for the non-African palete’
The dessert menu was limiting and totally disappointing. The only interesting thing was the Pof Pof with Baobab & Chocolate sauces (and the sauce was too extra to really enjoy it), although still had the other option of Coconut Rice Pudding with Honey Roasted Mango for Science – ended up being a total fail. Never again. This eventually had Pineapples and not Mango like the menu said and no heads up.
The ‘Pof Pof’ was served hot which is good even though the sauce thingy was an overkill but the Coconut Rice Pudding (also served hot) is basically an innovative way of having Tapioca. Didn’t enjoy this one bit and I enjoy plain ol’ Tapioca.
Final Thoughts: Nok by Alara is really nice in terms of aesthethics and architecture. This place might not be appreciated by the locals because local food is local food and no one really wants any twist to good ol’ local food but IJGBs may enjoy this more if they haven’t had Nigerian food for a while and want it with a twist. Being the Visa Restaurant week menu set price, it was somewhat good value for money, especially for the small portions. As for taste, it was fair – the dessert option was 50/100, starter options were great and the main meals were just okay. I hear there is a garden menu that everyone seems to prefer instead of this, guess we’ll have to check it out at some point. Did Nok live up to the hype? Nope for the food but Yah for the architecture
Was glad I was able to have the food here even though to a limited menu. Will definitely go back to try meals from the garden menu.