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  • Marylebone
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  1. Jikoni (Jikoni)
  2. Jikoni (Jikoni)
  3. Jikoni (Jikoni)
  4. Jikoni (Jikoni)

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

A glorious fusion of Asian, African and Middle Eastern cuisines from food writer Ravinder Bhogal

Like a doting grandma or benevolent old friend, Jikoni is a restaurant that wants to feed you. Stepping inside the place – the brainchild of food writer Ravinder Bhogal – is like being wrapped in a big blanket. Except that blanket is made of gooey, warm potatoes. 

Jikoni, which means ‘kitchen’ in Kiswahili, blends Asian, African and Middle Eastern cuisines in what Bhogal calls ‘cooking across borders’. If you’re looking for ‘authentic’ food from any of those regions, you’d better go elsewhere. But if you want a charming and playful evening of culinary surprises, which includes a prawn-toast scotch egg with banana ketchup and adorable diddy pickled cucumbers (as good as it sounds), Jikoni won’t disappoint. 

If I could drink a pint of that glossy, golden, coconut-y sauce – or better yet, take a bath in it – I would

From the clashing patterns of the tablecloths, to the kitsch mismatched plates and quirky decor – look out for a cute Russian doll hidden in a staircase nook – the vibe is eclectic and welcoming. An over-generous amount of cushions line the banquette seating, and when the food coma hit my stuffed friend she nestled her head in the pillows for a quick powernap. 

To start, a variety of nibbles and small plates came our way, our selection bolstered by the recommendations of our knowledgeable waiter. Bites of cauliflower popcorn with a zingy Chinese black-vinegar dipping sauce were followed by crunchy-yet-melty cheddar croquetas. Then came the gooey potatoes, which arrived in the form of the glorious aloo avocado chaat – an intriguing mound of mushy spuds, sprinkled with golden nylon sev (esentially those thin wormy bits from bombay mix). Concealing a bed of creamy avocado and crispy potato skins, it was comforting and addictive. We washed all of this down with an ananas punch that had just the right amount sweet and savoury, and a good Blood Orange Margarita. 

Things kept getting better. For mains, we split two hearty curries: the kuku paka, an African chicken curry, came with a nutty sauce slathered over a hunk of moist chicken leg. It was rich, with a hint of charcoal, and was served on saffron rice with a jammy egg on the side. And now we come to the star of the show: the hake-and-clam moilee. At £38, with an extra £6.50 for rice, this Keralan dish will set you back a bit, but holy moilee… If I could drink a pint of that glossy, golden, coconut-y sauce, or better yet, take a bath in it, I would. It was sweet but not cloying, and oh-so-silky. I wish there had been more of the melty hake and smoky clams that swam in the mixture, which was all tied together with a sour coconut chutney. We gladly soaked up the oodles of sauce with sticky lemon rice. 

For tamu (sweet), we just about squeezed in a saffron-and-orange-blossom crème caramel – not usually my thing, and not particularly orange-y or saffron-y, but still delicious. And we had the house-recommened banana cake, which could be compared to a very, very good sticky toffee pudding. It didn’t give much banana, but that wasn’t really an issue for me. 

Despite the posh location, nothing about Jikoni is prissy or pretentious. The food may come with a sizeable price tag, but Bhogal’s homely, joyful cooking will leave you feeling more than full.

The vibe Your quirky, well-off aunt’s house. 

The food A comforting and hearty Asian, African and Middle Eastern fusion. 

The drink Tropical twists on classic cocktails, and a decent wine list. 

Time Out tip I beg you, order the moilee. 

India Lawrence
Written by
India Lawrence


19-21 Blandford Street
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