LET’S CHECK OUT THE RAFFIA PALM, GARKI ABUJA

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This place is such a rare gem in Abuja, I don’t even know how they get their customers. In fact, if you plan on coming here, you must have it in mind to ask somebody around to point you through, otherwise, just forgerrit, you won’t find here. No signages or even a set up to let you know you’ve arrived. Although Google maps will lead you directly to this location, but you won’t be able to find the actual building that houses this establishment. So I’ll tell you this, wherever Google maps directs you to, just come down the car and knock on the door of house No. 1 by your left.

This place is so small, it seems to me that they’re managing space for everything, from the indoor bar to the outdoor space, also, it’s not your go-to fancy spot at all. In fact, just like their Instagram page, the whole setting looks like an old unmanaged space that was converted from a small house. Although they say the concept is “afro-centric”, I still think they could do better with a more modern afro-centric feel than placing dead bamboo sticks here and there, plastic roofing sheets, local woods and rain-washed dirty walls.

I honestly like the idea of placing board games on the tables, even the chess board was well afro represented, and the idea of lighting kerosene lanterns at night is a selling point for me.

The music feel was typical afro mix. As for the waiters, very polite people, easy to communicate with, especially the guy, you could tell he’s naturally a fun guy. He took his time to point anything on the menu that seemed strange to us, that is myself and my friends.

Speaking of the menu, I could tell that it was a fusion of at least one or two dishes from the 4 zones of Nigeria, that is East, West, North and South so we decided to order something from each of these zones, unfortunately, the items from the North (Dan Wake) was currently unavailable so we just stuck with the 3 other zones.

We were very hungry and as at the time we got here, we were the only ones here. I was so happy knowing that service won’t be slow. So I pleaded with the guy for them to be fast about our food. We asked him to get starters first since he assured that those ones are the fastest to be ready, but guess what, it took about 45 minutes for our starters to get here. We sha passed away time by playing like 3 rounds of Ayo and Ludo. Then the next thing, people began trooping in here like we blew whistle for everybody. Lol

 

EVERYTHING WE HAD

– Asun
– Nkwobi
– Ofada Rice
– Abacha
– Onunu
– Palm wine

 

FOR STARTERS

Asun – ₦1,200

I’ve been eating Asun all my life so if I give you a review of my Asun experience, better just take it as valid and authentic 😁. So their Asun was served in a calabash bowl with toothpicks in it, I gave them a 💯 for presentation and another 💯 for the tenderness of the goat meat, but for the amount of pepper in it, naaah, they didn’t try at all. Asun is supposed to be peppery hot 🔥, like we’re supposed to be begging for water 😂, this one wasn’t all that. See, although I enjoyed this Asun, but I have to tell you what to expect in details, Asun is supposed to be rugged roasted goat meat but no, this one was more on the smooth side and rather tasted fried. Asun is supposed to be peppery and fiery, in fact, we are sometimes meant to see the pepper seeds scattered in the plate. Also, Asun is meant to be served with diced onions, scotch bonnets, green peppers and all that, but this one was served with small scanty sweet corn. Although they said that sweet corn was a twist to their own Asun, but me I cannot understand why sha.

Not that the dish was a total bad idea, it tasted nice overall, but if what you’re looking for is the real Asun experience, this one is not it 🤷🏾‍♂️

 

Nkwobi – ₦1,200

In case you don’t know what Nkwobi is, it is an Igbo delicacy containing cow foot and palm oil-based sauce. You know the flat scam bowls Nkwobi is usually served in right? For the first time I didn’t feel scammed 😁, the bowl it was served with actually had a depth and this Nkwobi was on point, it was rich enough even with the Ubga and everything. But I must say that the sauce in it was quite much sha and over seasoned with too much Maggi. All of the sauce just went to settle in the depth of the bowl after eating. Overall, this wasn’t a bad idea 👌🏾

 

FOR MAINS

Ofada Rice – ₦2,000

This plate was meant for my friend, but I had a good pinch out of it and I could conveniently tell you what I felt. Presentation was on point. I like how they serve it locally in, what seems to be Banana leaves I think, inside a flat wooden plate, but I didn’t like that the eggs in the Ofada sauce was served on top the rice 🤦🏾‍♂️ Eggs are a major component of Ofada sauce, it’s supposed to soak up the sauce and not stand alone on the rice. Also, meat in Ofada sauce is supposed to be in tinier chunks because meat is part of the sauce too, but this one as served with 3 big pieces. Anyways sha, I think we got our money’s worth on this one 👌🏾

 

Abacha – ₦1,200

Abacha is a traditional dish originating from Enugu. I like how they also presented it, same plating as was used for the Ofada. What I didn’t like is that it was prepared in such a lazy way 🤦🏾‍♂️.

First off, the red oil didn’t cook. I could taste the rawness of the oil, also, personally, I felt like the Abacha wasn’t soft enough, but just like @bettycole_ did, some people could like it like that. There was no Ugba in this plate of Abacha, believe me, we scattered the food and searched deep in the plate and didn’t find. I can forgive them for the size of fried fish that was served in the plate reason being that Abacha isn’t supposed to be eaten as a main dish, it’s mostly an in-between meal, so the fish isn’t supposed to be that large. Another reason I would call this a lazy preparation is because, it wasn’t served with garden egg, especially those bitter ones. I felt like they just served us Cassava, scanty diced pieces of Kpomo and Palm Oil 🤦🏾‍♂️

How can you serve Abacha without garden egg? Who does that? 🤦🏾‍♂️

 

Onunu – ₦1,000

Before I talk about this food, let me tell you what happened. As you can see from the picture that there’s a lantern in the scene, this is because it got dark after so much waiting. This dish took almost 2 hours to get ready. I waited and waited for my food, people that I came with had finished eating theirs oh, only my own remaining 🤦🏾‍♂️

This was the first time in my life having this dish. I loved it! Onunu is a traditional Rivers state dish which is an even mixture of Pounded Yam, Pounded Plantain and Red Oil served as a swallow dish. It was served in a tomato-based sauce with goat meat in it. To be honest, I loved both the swallow and the sauce. For a first timer trying this dish, I didn’t find one reason at all to regret, it means that they probably made it very well 👌🏾

Although I felt like the sauce was the same sauce that was served with the Ofada, but I couldn’t place it very well.

 

FOR DRINKS

Palm wine (2 litres) – ₦2,000

I so much love the cups that the palm wine was served in, the presentation was nice, but as for the plastic keg? Maybe a palm wine gourd would have been better for local aesthetics purposes.

We all know what Palm wine is, one of the most delicious alcohol beverages to come out of Nigeria, precisely the East. But this drink has been so far bastardized and adulterated in many establishments, and Raffia Palm isn’t left out. Sorry to say, but their palm wine wasn’t authentic. I know the taste of real palm wine, and just for double validation, I went with an Igbo brother that grew up in the home of a palm wine tapper and he could validate this for me too. Their palm wine seems to have been mixed with saccharine, I could tell because I had about 4 cups of this drink and didn’t even get tipsy. O wrong nau 🤦🏾‍♂️

Anyways, the taste wasn’t bad oh, but it’s also not authentic, that’s all I can say.

PS: I asked if I wanted to have a takeaway drink, they said it’s possible and I’d only have to pay ₦250 for the keg.

To cap up my rather long post, I’ll ask myself this question….

Will I come here again?

Yes, I definitely will. Even if it’s not for the authenticity of the food, for the experience and the good vibes👌🏾

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