Nkem’s, which opened at the end of 2011 in Nunhead, promises authentic Nigerian food – ‘just like mum’s cooking’. And in this case it really is like mum’s cooking, since it is owner Mikey Nkemdilim’s mum who is cooking. The menu focuses on Yoruba dishes from western Nigeria which rely on starchy, stomach-lining base ingredients paired with meat, then laced with heat from fiery scotch bonnet peppers. Moin moin, a cake made from cooked beans, is a popular Nigerian starter. The pressed loaf’s mushy texture is similar to polenta cake – but is flavoured with dried prawns, giving the dish a distinctively fish-flake aroma. Alternatives include barbecued chicken gizzards – ours were very chewy. For mains, you can mix and match the starch base and stew, such as efo (a vegetable stew), egusi (melon seed soup), or meat stew. The spicy meat concoction was pungently flavoured with dried prawns, and dotted with chewy chunks of beef and slices of gelatinous cow’s foot. The flavours and textures of Nigerian cuisine can be quite challenging to the uninitiated, but Nkem’s friendly owner Mikey was happy to offer guidance, and was flexible with the dishes’ spiciness levels. Nkem’s small premises only have room for three tables and a takeaway counter, which, on our visit, was busy with Nigerian women picking up a homely dinner. ★★☆☆☆ Anne Faber
For info, see Nkem’s listing.