IYA OYO…now this is a buka that has attained cult status among #Abuja #amala lovers. From the itinerant worker to the student, from civil servants to bankers and Oil & Gas Industry workers in flashy rides; this none-too-clean buka has come to represent more than just a restaurant. The knowing smile of acknowledgment shared by colleagues and friends when ‘Iya Oyo” is mentioned is quite simply bizarre. Only Coca-Cola with Coke can trump this. Lol.
Ok, so I exaggerated. But it’s quite a wonder how popular this place is. Formerly situated in a rather seedy-looking place in Utako, Iya Oyo has moved to Wuye District. And like groupies of Miley Cyrus or Madonna and awe-stricken fans of each 007 character, we have followed with our cars and our phones and other gadgets to spread the ‘Good News of the new location.
Is it a great place to try out for the uninitiated? That, it is. Caveat though, it’s not the foyer of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab nor is there any attempt to be any more than it is….a ‘come chop, pay, go’ buka. Comfort is not on the menu and style is not in a hurry to visit. The road all the way to the entrance isn’t tarred so you’d better have all windows wound up or your hair and nostrils will have a fine film of dust by the time you get to your destination.
And then you get there. If like me you go before rush hour which starts at about 11am and can last until around 3, you get to park almost at the entrance. For a first timer, the red dust coating the tarp which covers the buka can be a bit of shocker. DO NOT LET THAT DETER YOU!
On getting there, you make your way to the service station. You place your order after having picked out your ‘stainless steel’ bowl (or plastic take out bowl as appropriate), choose what you want and having been served by some of the surliest women in the nation (not every day though), you make your way to slight less surly cashier, pay the fare and choose a spot to seat.
The Smile…she knows. Yes she does
Here, my friends, is where the journey to hot, tasty, mouth watering, salivary-gland-gushing heaven starts!!! See, I’ve done amala in various places. In Ikeja, Falomo, Jos, Aiyetoro Gbede, and a number of places in Abuja but nothing holds a candle to this.
It’s regular old amala, normal ewedu, same old gbegiri. And of course it’s the same assortment of meats; the ever delightfully soft orishirishi. These are the same as in every amala joint across Naija, right? Wrong!!! I don’t know what Iya Oyo does but the amala just tastes divine and the ’roundabout’ (piece of a cow’s large intestine)is always just the right degree of soft.
You have a small piece of roundabout in the corner of your mouth, you chew on it a little and take two swallows of amala before you continue to chew…..’Masterchef’ dishes couldn’t possibly taste this good. To crown the goodness, you take long pulls on the just-perfectly-chilled bottle of coke (the glass bottle I tell you, not the plastic whose contents taste like they were boiled). Bliss!
Ok, before I start to drool unto my computer, here are the official reviews:
Wuye District as far I can tell, has only one entrance and exit and that means that wherever you are in Abuja, you have to get to the Julius Berger (popularly called Berger in case you’re taking a cab or hipping buses) and continue from there. There are no shorter routes. That’s annoying especially considering that the previous Utako location meant you could always take a different route if one was busy.
Granted, it’s not meant to be an upscale restaurant but the ‘German Floor’ and the bare earth around means that there’s constantly a dust taste and feel in the air. Plus the very, very dirty tarp and the dry farmland just across as well as the puppies yelping occasionally in the background aren’t exactly soothing.
Sullen, surly, scowling girls put you instinctively on the defensive. If you get to a dirty table and ask that it be cleaned, you may get half the dirt on you . The waitresses (that’s laughable here) couldn’t be bothered to look while swiping the dirt unto the floor.
Each amala ball costs 100 bucks, each piece of meat the same. I’d like to see any restaurant try to beat that! As Mc Hammer used to say, ‘you can’t touch this’. I’d have given a 10 but not too long ago the amala balls were smaller and the pieces of beef smaller sized and perfectly fried. Not everyone likes their meals in small interesting looking portions though, so this is strictly me being me.
Really?! Do I really have to say anything else? This is by far the best of #soulfood Abuja has in buka form. Always hot, always soft, always delicious. I just don’t fancy the amount of oil I see. That’s enough to line your intestines forever. But that’s a teeny weeny drawback.
This Vs. Others: Would I go back? Erm, I followed Iya Oyo from Utako, across bridges all the way to Wuye. Need I say more? I also absolutely love the rice and beans with real Yoruba stew. Comparing Iya Oyo against other bukas is a tad premature. I haven’t been to other bukas since starting to review. There’s a new amala joint my friends and I want to go try out. You’ll definitely be the first to know how that stacks up against the legendary Iya Oyo. For now, this is dedicated to the Iya Oyo groupies in Abuja: …..long may the affliction continue, LOL
IYA OYO deets
|Wuye District. Abuja||cell: 08039662370 / 08055269557|