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Joké Bakare
Photograph: Jess Hand

Meet the chef behind Time Out’s best London restaurant of 2022

Joké Bakare is the chef-owner of Chishuru, specialising in modern West African food

Angela Hui
Written by
Angela Hui

For Time Out’s 2022 best restaurants issue, our Food & Drink Editor Angela Hui meets Joké Bakare, chef-owner of Brixton Market’s Chishuru 

What’s your most popular dish?
‘Mimri oku, which is a spicy broth that reminds me of my grandad. I grew up in Nigeria and we’d travel across the country to see him. We’d always be greeted with a pot of murky-looking stock bubbling away on an open fire with chopped up vegetables, yams, plantains and fermented fish. This dish packs a punch – it’s layered with complex flavours.’

Best thing you’ve cooked this year?
‘Omoebe, which translates as “black soup” and is native to the Edo state in south Nigeria. We blacken ground leafy vegetables and alliums on the grill and cook it down. We use a range of herbs: scent leaves, thai basil, uziza leaves and utazi leaves. You get aromatics from the basil, pepperiness from the uziza and a slight bitterness from the utazi.’

Who is London’s most exciting chef?
‘I love the inventiveness of Seb Myers’s food at Planque. I’m not sure if it’s still on the menu because it changes all the time, but the calf’s brain with braised pine nuts dish stuck with me – it reminded me of the braised nuts of Nigerian soups. It’s something different to what I’m used to eating, but it speaks to my heart.’

What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened since you opened Chishuru?
‘To be honest, it’s the way we’ve been accepted. I never thought we’d be here this long. People have embraced our cuisine. It’s emotional for me, because for people in another part of the world to accept my food and enjoy it feels like validation.’ 

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