My interest in food has led me down some strange roads these past few years.
Most notably, I have a greater need for exercise now.
But I’ve also eaten in some amazing countries, and I find myself with a vastly improved culinary repertoire. There are so many restaurants out there vying for our attention, and yet truly impressive ones are a rare find.
I suppose this is why I was so shocked to find such a stunning restaurant on my doorstep.
Well… I don’t know if I can consider London on my doorstep, a mere 400 miles from Glasgow…
But after all my travels and eating away from home, I have to say I was genuinely impressed by Jikoni.
The idea of a ‘fusion’ restaurant used to excite me, but to be honest I stopped caring about them for a while. They’ve been created and recreated over and over – there are only so many times I can eat food while being continually assured its “a new take on an old favourite” before I’m bored to an early grave.
Is it too much to ask for a little originality?
But here is Jikoni, a modest display of creative dishes. I won’t lie, I was slightly sceptical at first, but the dishes were truly wonderful, paired with incredible aesthetics and a shining staff.
So, if you’re near London and crave a break from the usual, I have just the place for you. With a gentle ambience, exquisite tastes and an originality I’ve been sorely missing, Jikoni is a rare beauty this world truly needs.
The London-based restaurant, which will celebrate its first birthday in September this year, was conceived by the award-winning Ravinder Bhogal. A food writer, TV presenter and chef, Ravinder is no stranger to the culinary world which she proves in her dishes.
She has decorated her restaurant with interesting features and trinkets, each with a personal story. Most of the interior is centred around her cultural heritage and family. It is extremely refreshing to see such a personal touch in a restaurant, especially when executed so tastefully.
This was reflected in her cooking…
To start, we ordered a mixture of the small plates and Kazuri – Swahili for small and beautiful. From the small plates we enjoyed Kimchi Royals, a delicious take on Patatas Bravas which, while delicious, used flavours I would never usually attribute to Bravas.
And from the Kazuri we were presented with 3 dishes: the Pondicherry Prawn Puffs, Beetroot and Shanklish Croquettes, and Franca’s Chickpea Chips. Shanklish, we later found out, is an amazing cheese native to Syria and Lebanon, which paired well with the beetroot. The chickpea chips were especially surprising. Served with Bengali Tomato Chutney, I finished these far too quickly…
We were almost too full for our Mains.
I opted for the Mutton Keema Sloppy Joe, while my cousin chose the Duck Leg Rendang.
Now while I had a small taste of the duck, I can’t comment much. My cousin looked as happy as I was though and the little I tasted was incredible.
And the burger?
On the side, padron peppers. Now, while I don’t mind these, I never actually order them from lack of interest. But these had been fried in light batter and seasoned – something I had never had before. The Sloppy Joe itself was filled with more than the meat. Hidden from sight were the pickled onion, bright purple and spiralized, and the sweet, sweet mango chutney.
A single bite and my taste buds exploded. The flavours of the meat oozed out in its juices, accompanied by the sweetness of the chutney and the sourness of the onion.
Surpassing all expectations. With flying colours.
I was definitely an advocate for Jikoni at this point. Nothing could deter me and I thought I was as satisfied as I could be.
And then dessert arrived.
Turkish Delight & Summer Berry Semifreddo. When I ordered it, I had no idea it would be topped. With. Candy. Floss.
Pashmak, an Iranian candy Floss.
Which was also topped with pistachios and rose petals.
It was creamy, light, subtly flavoured with rose and berries; basically everything I would possibly want in the hot summer.
In my infatuation I completely forgot to photograph my cousin’s dessert.
Banana Cake, I think.
My mistake. But in my defence, the Semifreddo was outstanding.
To finish, we enjoyed some chai to help us unwind. A relaxing end to our day.
Jikoni’s is unbelievably imaginative. It dares to be both bold and subtle, a unique advantage in the growing age of flamboyant dining.
Ravinder’s creativity with food has allowed her to breach barriers other ‘fusion restaurants’ have ignored; this, combined with her experimentation into other Middle Eastern dishes, gives Jikoni an originality the world is truly missing.