Jeremy Chan and Ire Hassan-Odukale
New home: Ikoyi burst onto the global gastronomic scene when it won the One To Watch Award at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021. Since then, it has moved from its original, somewhat cramped location to a larger space on London’s The Strand, with exquisite interiors designed by David Thulstrup. The walls are clad in copper, the ceiling features a curved metal weave, furniture is made from oak and the floor from limestone – elements inspired by chef Jeremy Chan’s dual focus on spices and British produce.
Free spirits: Having both worked in finance, friends Jeremy Chan and Iré Hassan-Odukale launched Ikoyi in 2017 with little formal training between them. They remain largely unconfined by restaurant conventions, with the gifted Chan creating a culinary style that defies categorisation; he gleans herbs and spices from across Africa and Asia, borrows techniques from around the globe, while sourcing proteins and fresh produce from the UK and its waters. The result is a singular dining experience which the Canadian-Chinese-British chef terms “a journey through bold heat”.
On the plate: Ikoyi’s signature remains its smoked jollof rice, which has been a mainstay on the menu in myriad forms that vary depending on the time of year. It arrives late in the tasting menu and is preceded by the likes of squid, bone marrow and Colston Basset cheese; drunken chicken toast; asparagus, plantain and eko. Desserts even include elements such as Scotch Bonnet, reinforcing the unusual (and spicy) narrative.
Subtle service: Led by Hassan-Odukale, Ikoyi’s service style is deliberately unobtrusive. The theory behind creating an arms-length approach is to allow the food to speak for itself, like a piece of art in a gallery. Then, if the guest wants to know more detail about any element on the plate, the team are perfectly well-versed to explain.