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Follow me on my new journey from being an ex-Londoner to a Lagosian!
When new in Lagos, food can be a big issue if you’re not in the know!
Here are my top 7 places to eat; thank me later:-)
For Sunday Brunch: Wheat-baker
My first experience at Wheat-baker was peaceful. Peaceful is not a phrase you would normally use when dining. But that’s what happened, the moment I walked into this beautiful boutique hotel. The polite doorman opens the door and you are greeted with a nice open plan reception area with beautiful coaches.
The dining area is quaint enough to seat a small army.
At Wheat-baker there is a selection of Nigerian and Continental dishes. The selection may not be as extensive as other hotels. But what makes this place stand out is the quality of food. The effort put into each meal is evident on the palate.
MUST HAVE DISH: Salmon
MENU PRICE-RANGE: Buffet at N9,500
For Saturday Lunch: Yellow Chilli
Yellow Chilli is my most go to place for authentic Nigerian food presented in a non-traditional form. The eba is wrapped in a cone formation, the yam porridge almost like paella with the yam diced into small pieces.
MUST HAVE: Yam Porridge with snails, dried fish and pieces of beef
MENU PRICE-RANGE: N3,000-4,500
For Friday dinner: Spice route
If you’re looking for tasty Indian cuisine, then Spice Route is the best stop for you! It’s a one-stop dining experience that transitions from afternoon to night time vibes!
As you walk through the door of the restaurant on the 1st floor; you are greeted with a large open space ideal for a nice photo session. The restaurant is then sectioned into corners using bell curtains, and the use of lighting adds a little more mystic. The table on the right of the space is an object of art; turmeric, peppers and other spices are encased in a glass table.
MUST HAVES: Bhuna Gosht (Lamb curry)
MENU PRICE-RANGE: N2,500-5,500
For Thursday lunch: Ice Cream Factory & Chinese
A playful, relaxed and family friendly environment fully describes the newly opened Ice Cream Factory in Lekki Phase One. With a range of ice-creams and dessert selection, you’d be lost for choice. But they are best known for their apple crumble and ice-cream, or waffles and ice-cream.
MUST HAVES: Cookies n Cream ice-cream and Madeira cake
MENU PRICE RANGE: N200 per scoop (OR Apple crumble & ice-cream: N1,500)
…And you don’t have to travel far if your sweet tooth is at bay and you’re ready for a sit-down meal. Then simply make your way upstairs for their contemporary Chinese restaurant.
MUST HAVE: Sweet & Sour Chicken or Singapore Noodles
MENU PRICE RANGE: N2,000-N3,000
For Wednesday dinner: Pattaya
This nice Thai restaurant situated in VI is sure to satisfy your cravings; whether it’s a green or red curry. You’re sure to plead ‘please sir I want some more!’
MUST HAVES: Poo Ja (crab mixed with chicken) OR Yam Pla Foo (crispy fried fish)
MENU PRICE RANGE: N8,000 upwards
For Tuesday Lunch: BUKKAH HUT
For a nice traditional lunch-time fix, Bukka-Hut is the place to go. Be sure to not sleep at your desk as the full portions are generous. Don’t bother with the half portions as it will not satisfy you.
MUST HAVES: Bokoto (cowleg) OR Smoked Cat Fish
MENU PRICE RANGE: N450-N1,500
For Monday Breakfast: Step-inn
An authentic English style pub located in the heart of VI. Ideal for all lovers of full-English breakfast!
MUST HAVES: Full-English
MENU PRICE-RANGE: N2,000 upwards
Bon appetite on this 7day food options!
There comes a point after your move to Lagos when you begin to ask yourself, ‘did I make the right decision to come?’ or ‘should I go back?’ Questions that are perfectly normal. But it’s better to understand the different states one goes through when transitioning, before falling into a deep hole of depression.
This is stage six when you have given up, gone on BA and booked a one-way trip somewhere else. You have almost packed up the last remaining trace of your existence in the city. You simply cannot take it anymore, before you make the jump, just remember.
Do not compare living standards. So what you cannot drink tap water here, and the fact that NEPA comes but once an hour, the buses look as though they have been in several crashes, and that customer service is worst thanBasil Fawlty’s. Your carefully planned business may not have worked out well, or the job you thought you had – did not quite live up to its expectations. Even if your boss is crazier than Kramer, stay. At the end of the day, you know the reason you left, the reason you came back to our beloved country supersedes that negative voice in your head.
Reasons to stay in Lagos
Limited racism: Well there is colourism, but at least it’s not as bad as you feeling that the reason you did not get that promotion or job – is because of the colour of your skin. This is true in some ways….but then again we still have those that discriminate against different shades of black. Is it better to be discriminated on by blacks though?
Love life: Okay, if you are of the orientation that you must marry a fellow Nigerian, then you are in the right place. Where else are you going to meet a large number of Nigerian men/ women! They are everywhere you look; weddings, bar openings, concerts, banks, even church. So to make a love connection is more likely.
Rags to Riches: Millionaires are made faster than vista was scrapped! It only takes one deal; you needn’t know a thing about the avenue that will make you a fortune. One day you are a market seller, the next, an oil tycoon. They say Hollywood is where dreams come true, but dreams can come truer in Lagos. All it takes is one meeting and one deal. Whilst getting this big break may be a little bit tricky, once it’s been discovered there’s no turning back.
The Weather: So long to polo neck sweaters, skin drying heaters, ear-muffs, sweaty lycra tights, woollen gloves and jumpers. This state is basked in sunlight. The day starts earlier than normal; 5am looks like 7am.
Friendliness: As crazy as the city is, as bad as the customer service is, as bad as the roads are – there is no better place to feel as if you are at home. You feel welcomed and have a sense of belonging. You know it’s not the same anywhere else in the world. There’s an event every weekend for you to go and mingle with friends, new and old.
So bear it, the feeling will pass over as long as you recognize the 10 stages:
- Excitement of returning home
- Excitement slowly kicking into reality
- Reality bites!
- Disappointment when things don’t work out
- Desperation of how to leave
- Feeling of excitement
The hardest stage would be the feeling of sheer desperation. But fear not, as this will subside within 3 months. It’s something a high percentage of so-called ‘returnees’ go through. But in the end you’ll pull through; at first if it doesn’t work out, then step back have a hot cup of Milo. And start again!
Welcome to Lagos, stay in Lagos, and don’t give up!!!
So what, you just got into the country? Everybody else doesn’t need to know you’re new in Lagos. The best way to do this is by adopting some colloquialisms along the way. I mean you may sound as out of place as Alfie Moon would in a remake of Little Women. But to fit in as best as you can, here are my top 10 everyday phrases any newbie must know and use!
1) If you hear anyone call youOyibo, which literally translates to ‘white person’; stop, think, and re-adjust your actions. It’s somewhat of a backhanded insult. The person here is basically telling you to stop your high maintenance ways. For example, you may say ‘I don’t drink pure water’. You would be met with ‘chai Oyibo’; at first glance really unrelated, but they’re literally saying stop your damn acting, and whilst in Rome – be like the Romans.
2) Wahala rolls off the tongue effortlessly. If you ask a person for something, and they refuse; you could respond ‘no wahala’ meaning ‘that’s fine, it’s not a problem’. Or it can also be used as a response when someone thanks you for doing something for them. In other words ‘you’re welcome’.
3) Chop means to eat. I don chop – I have eaten, I wan chop – I want to eat. The slang was presumably borrowed from the English phrase ‘chop’ to slice/dice.
4) My sister has so many bags, so she dashed me this one. In this phrase it denotes ‘to give’ freely. However when a police official strongly insists you dash then money; the dashing is no longer ‘giving freely’ but has now turned into a bribe!
5) Section 419 in the Nigeria law book deals with using false pretence to defraud. This has now become synonymous with all losses. Someone sneakily eats your last rolo – you might claim ‘chai he don do me 419’. Someone steals from your account; again the person has played 419 on you! If you think you deserve a promotion, but you are passed over; again you can claim you manager did 419 (or ojoro) for you!
6) Whilst living in Lagos, you must become accustomed to ‘go-slow’ which literally translates to ‘going slow’! This is a traffic jam that has no light at the end of the tunnel. It’d probably be faster if you got out of your car on 3rd mainland bridge and walked.
7) Oga, when said correctly it can get you out of many tight holes. If the LASTMA (ruthless traffic cops) man tries to fine you, you can add a little ‘oga…haba’. It gives the powerless power to think they are ‘big / rich / in charge’. In some work places oga still places an important role as you dare not call your boss his name! So instead of calling him Mr Ayobami, you might choose (by force) to call him ‘Oga Ayobami’.
8) Wetin translates to ‘what’s wrong’, but can easily be used the same as ‘how come’. You can generally free use this when bargaining at the market. So a piece of meat is quoted to cost twice its expected price; you can freely respond ‘haba wetin’. Loosely meaning are you kidding me? Or how can?.
9) MOPOL, these mobile police are not your friends, you even have a better chance dealing with LASTMA. They carry guns heavy enough to weigh them down. To add to the extra weight being lugged about is a soft-shelled armour looking kind of suit. Believe me, they are not chasing down criminals; more like looking for brides down Lekki Bridge.
10) Abi is used as regularly as ‘I’m telling you’ or ‘Isn’t it?’ It’s a statement of agreement. Either as a direct yes response or a ‘tell me about it’ phrase.
I hope my 10 mini phrases can help you function in Lagos a little bit more. Try and use one, two, heck all of them within this week.