The food court at the newly-renovated Westwood Square Mall has clearly not been a particularly big hit; huge swathes of the restaurant space has yet to be filled, and when I showed up at around noon on a weekday, the place was mostly empty.
Naija Jollof, a restaurant specializing in African eats, was the only place that seemed to be doing okay. Which suited me just fine, since that’s what I came for. Bonus: no issues finding a seat.
I tried to order the daily special, Togo, which is described as “plantain pottage with spinach & broken pieces of fish.” I was told that they didn’t actually have this, but that they could substitute it with something similar. When I asked what the substitute dish was called, the surly woman behind the counter gave a one word answer of “spinach” in a tone that implied follow-up questions wouldn’t be appreciated.
So I have no idea what the dish I ordered was called, or if it’s actually from Togo. Based on some Googling I think it might be a dish called gboma dessi, but that looks considerably saucier than what I had, so I’m not sure.
Whatever it was, it kind of reminded me of collard greens, but with big chunks of beef instead of bacon.
It was pretty good — it’s salty, tangy, and a little bit spicy, with a texture that’s well cooked but still has a bit of bite to it, and a deep spinach flavour. It contrasts quite nicely with the sweet, creamy plantain. It’s a tasty combo.
The chunks of beef, on the other hand, weren’t great (they might have been goat, but the very mild flavour makes me think beef). There was a huge chunk on top that I believe was tripe; it was inedible. And when I say it was inedible, I mean that in the most fundamental sense of the word. I couldn’t put a fork through it or bite into it. It was like rubber.
There was, however, another piece that was much better. It was still fairly tough, but I was able to eat it, so it had that going for it (there was also a third piece that appeared to be entirely sinew and veins. It was just as bite-resistant and rubbery as the tripe. The less said about that one, the better).
Thankfully, the spinach was tasty enough on its own that the shoddy beef didn’t feel like a huge issue.