SOHO REVIEW: Zoe,s Ghana Kitchen @ The Sun & 13 Cantons

If you are looking for one of the best cooks in town then Zoe Adjonyoh’s contemporary West African food can be found in heart of Soho as part of a six month residency at The Sun & 13 Cantons. This pub popup is Zoe’s traditional Ghanaian recipes re-mixed for the modern kitchen and from her popular restaurant at Pop Brixton.

So what did we have?   I do not normally start with desert but The Love Chin Chin Banoffee Pie was nothing short of food innovation. You recognise the traditional flavours of Banoffee but then it hits you the distinct chin chin crunch making it a must taste on the menu. Something to shout about.

No African kitchen is complete without  Jollof rice a well sized portion accompanied the Grilled Lamb Cutlets made for a delicious nicely flavoured meal with the Spiced Peanut Sauce having just the right amount of peanut to accompany the cutlets.

The small plates menu included Plantain Pancakes that give you a nice filling any time bite, with the taste of ginger lingering. We also tried the Avocado & Groundnut Salad which had a bit of kick with the chilli pepper combined with the smooth fresh taste of avocado and groundnuts. Main plates included Tilapia Fillets w/Baobab Butter & Moringa Pesto, pan fried fish nicely done accompanied by the fresh lime and cayenne pepper. We did not get to  taste the Jamestown Prawn but cooked in coconut oil with ginger, onion and fresh thyme, I can only image what it tasted like. Overall the food was freshly cooked and well portioned and just tasty. A well thought out menu perfect for the summer months and affordable, a three course meal setting you back no more that £20. Nice located in the Soho, you can check out the vintage stores nearby.

If you have the cooking bug buy Zoe’s  stunning debut cookbook “Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen”, published by Octopus Books. To buy the book see here

Alt A caught up with the celebrated cook amongst her busy schedule she only had time for 10 Q’s.

  • Why do you think we are on the “cusp of an African food revolution”?

More and more we are seeing real momentum towards an African food movement – foods and flavours from across Africa are being represented at an increasing number of food scenes; supper clubs, pop-ups, street food markets, new restaurant openings and in food writing. There is a genuine passion among food lovers to try something that is new, not just re-spun, and Ghanaian and other African cuisines are filling that gap.

  • What are the new trends that are driving this revolution and can you explain the birth of the African foodie?

West Africa’s culinary offering has been massively underrepresented until now so unless you were seeking out, it was unlikely you’d stumble across it. Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen strives to make West African food accessible to everyone, we create dishes true to their roots but with a twist to show how diverse the cuisine can be. Introducing people to West African cuisine and maintaining their interest is what we get a kick out of. I want to see a world as well acquainted with Jollof as they are with tacos and a high street as diverse in its African cuisines as it is with it with Pan and South Asian food.

  • When did you start cooking and who influenced your food journey?

Since childhood I’ve had a love affair with food from across Africa. My Ghanaian father used to bring home strange and exotic ingredients such as kenkey, shito, tilapia and smoked fish of all varieties and he would cook them – mostly for himself – to get that comforting taste of home. I would hang around him in the kitchen, quizzing him on the names of the ingredients and where they were from, picking from his plate. Partly to connect with him, partly – I realised over time – cooking and eating Ghanaian food was a way for me to connect with his home too.

  • How important is nutrition in your recipes?

We pride ourselves on creating well-balanced nutritious meals using fresh produce wherever possible. Ghanaian food is about wholesome home-cooking and while some of my dishes may not be for calorie counters, they’re nutritious nonetheless. There’s an assumption that Ghanaian food is very meat heavy but there’s actually a huge range of vegan and vegetarian staples which are popular.

  • What did you do at the Evening Standard Food Month and what more to expect?

On 1st June, we did ‘One Night Only’ which is part of The Evening Standard Food Month celebration. We were tasked with creating a dish that reflects the diverse cultures and cuisines that make Brixton what it is today so representing for West Africa, we’ll be serving red snapper & papaya with plantain chips from 5PM alongside our standard menu.

I am happy to be set up at the Night Market, London’s new food market in Kensington from 7th to the 18th of June, so there’s plenty of opportunities to get involved with the West African food revolution this June!

  • Where can we experience Zoe’s in London and tell us about your residency in Soho?

We have a fixed restaurant in Pop Brixton, a shipping container community which promotes a chilled out, modern way of dining. We also have a summer kitchen residency in Soho, (Central London) at The Sun and 13 Cantons pub which is also where I host my supper club on Mondays.

  • What are your favourite and signature dishes?

I fell in love with Dad’s version of Groundnut Soup – which has become my Peanut Butter Stew, now a signature dish on my menu.

All my life I’ve cooked this dish when I needed nourishment, comfort and a taste of home. My peanut butter stew is the dish that launched Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen back in 2011, it’s based on the familiar Groundnut Soup common to various countries across West Arica and is still a customer favourite today.

  • Tell us about your cookbook Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen?

From pan-roasted cod with grains of paradise and okra tempura to coconut & cassava cake and cubeb spiced shortbread, the cookbook is about contemporary African food made simply and for everyone. It represents the things that matter to me; journey, adventure, travel, family and writing.

The cookbook was always going to be a nod to traditions but a look to the future and as much about ‘Ghanaian dishes’ as it is about Ghanaian flavours and ingredients.

I wrote the cookbook so that people can create West African dishes at home for friends and family because my mission is to enable as many people as possible to have access to this amazing food and culture.

  • What advice to you give to those following in your footsteps?

Know your subject and know what you want to say about it – test the food and the concept thoroughly and make sure you have something to show people that’s different and inspiring and reflects your connection to it and why you want to show it off.

The Sun and Thirteen Cantons, lunch offer; 3 courses and a bottle of wine for £30. To book

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