A few months ago, Victor Ugwuek took his eatery from a pop-up to a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the west end. Now, Parkdale is home to some of the best West African eats in the city, thanks to Afrobeat Kitchen.
Ugwuek’s widely popular recipes range from Nigerian jollof to Buka beef to oxtail pepper soup, each crafted with a fusion twist, which is inspired by his own upbringing in Lagos, Nigeria, where his mother owned restaurants. Afrobeat Kitchen’s cuisine is inspired by part sauce part stew dishes, which are colloquially called soups in Ugeuek’s native Nigeria.
“The buka beef is named after beloved open air food stalls, also called mama-puts, where most cooking is done over live fire of whatever the proprieter’s regional specialities and the market fresh ingredients of the day,” Ugwuek said in an Instagram post. “Palm butter is smoked off to clarify it before adding the obe ata base, a west african mother sauce of tomato onion tatashe red pepper reduction. Whatever vegetables are in season is lashed into other pots, often using this base as well to build up big flavours.”
Bringing West African delights to Parkdale has brought Ugwuek a ton of recognition and culinary fame: Recently local rapper Shad partook in Afrobeat Kitchen’s opening festivities, and the new location has given Torontoians the opportunity to try an emerging International cuisine.
His love of cooking, goes beyond the dishes themselves. For Ugwuek, it’s about the community that food can bring.
Food is survival as much as pleasure, resilience and strength for both the makers of food and those who share our tables,” he writes in an Afrobeat Kitchen Instagram post. “There’s something so special about a city that embraces each other’s identities and journeys. Each dish we make here is part celebration, part step forward carrying on my family’s legacy in our space.”
Afrobeat Kitchen is located at 1510 Queen St. W.