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  • Restaurants
  • Borough
  • price 2 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Akara
    Jodi Hinds
  2. Akara
    Charlie McKay
  3. Akara
    Jodi Hinds
  4. Akara
    Charlie McKay
  5. Akara
    Jodi Hinds
  6. Akara
    Jodi Hinds
  7. Akara
    Jodi Hinds

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Akoko's casual south London offshoot, where super-creative west African cuisine reigns supreme

Akoko, the smooth-as-silk Fitzrovia restaurant that glided onto the London restaurant scene, blew everyone’s mind and then won a Michelin star, has spawned a child under the arches of Borough Market. 

Akara replicates its parent restaurant’s ingenious and critically acclaimed take on west African cuisine and brings it to a more casual, less-intense place. Off the bat: going to Akara isn’t as good as going to Akoko. Which is like saying seeing Prince perform in an arena isn’t as good as seeing Prince perform in your living room. One of those things is more feasible than the other. At this stage getting into the rightfully popular Akoko is a task fit for Restaurant Hercules. Not to mention, you might not feel like dropping hundreds of pounds on its tasting-menu-or-death sole option. At Akara - get this - you can choose what you want to eat. 

Special shout out to a coy side of plantain cubes, all jumbled up with lookalike pieces of grilled octopus

And you may well choose to start with a few of the titular akara. It’d be lazy to call them ‘the west African bao’, but that would give the uninitiated an idea of what to expect. Fluffy-yet-cakey balls, delicately fried and perched magisterially on stone cubes, each one bifurcated then ladened with stuff like prawn, ox cheek, mushrooms and scallops. Like most things Akoko-related, they’re accompanied by a bit of psychedelic scotch bonnet sauce. Like most things Akoko-related, said sauce works as a kind of culinary particle accelerator, transforming flavours and textures that might otherwise stray into ordinary-ness.  

Served alongside Akoko’s glowing gravy: the spatchcocked Lagos chicken (quite nice) and the diced-up sirloin (very nice); a sixtuplet of juicy beefy slabs, covered in a desert-like crumble, served alongside a noble onion. Special shout out to a coy side of plantain cubes, all jumbled up with lookalike pieces of grilled octopus. Finished with a peppery relish, this dish sums up what Akara’s all about; exciting, new kinds of cooking, served in a direct and snappy fashion.

Desserts were merely ‘nice’ until we came face to face with the dark chocolate mousse, a recent addition to Akara’s lineup that I sincerely hope stays on the menu until the end of time. Served with dulce de leche and banana espuma (posh foam), it was as good as any dessert I’ve ever had. 

Akara deals in the same weapons-grade tastefulness as Akoko. Everything, from the waiting staff’s (currently) on-trend chore jackets, to the lighting, music and furniture is so adeptly realised, it’s almost a surprise that the food holds up its end of the bargain. But it does. 

The vibe Nice lights, nice music, nice staff, nice everything. Akara makes it all look easy.

The food A more casual take on the super-creative west African cuisine that made Akoko so famous.

The drink Lots of fun aperitifs on offer, including a nice cacao Negroni that packs a significant wallop.

Time Out tip Sitting at the chef’s counter is fun, as the kitchen employs the same kind of charcoal grill as Akoko. And who doesn’t like watching someone else BBQ?

Joe Mackertich
Written by
Joe Mackertich


Arch 208
18 Stoney St
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