FOOD MATCH: BUKA
When you think bukas, you are almost too sure of three things; a little grime, healthcare violations, and non-apologetic terrible customer service. It’s as if these three features have become a stamp for our favorite local bukas. But what makes buka food so appreciated that these features are easily overlooked ? We went to Ibadan to review some of the popular bukas. Ibadan arguably has one of the most popular bukas in this country. So much so, it’s almost becoming a tourist stop.
In this food match series, we would be focusing on Amala, a Nigerian staple purported by many to be the king of swallows and pounded yam. This match draws up a comparative review between Ose Oluhun Food Canteen (Amala Skye), Ola mummy food canteen, Alhaji Iyaibeji food canteen and Turaya Food Canteen.
Ose Olohun Food Canteen, Bodija, Ibadan.
FM Pick: Amala and Ewedu
Ola Mummy Food Canteen, Bodija Ibadan.
FM Pick: Pounded Yam, and “Efo Riro”
Turaya Food Canteen, Yemetu, Ibadan.
FM Pick: Amala and ewedu
Alhaja Iya Ibeji Food Canteen, Old Ife
FM Pick: Amala and okro
Ose Olohun Food Canteen has developed a widespread repute for their swallow, especially their Amala (this is perhaps the reason behind their famous moniker, Amala Skye). As such, their offerings are limited to swallows like Amala, Semo and Eba. Their soups on display are Ewedu, Gbegiri, Egusi, Okro and Efo. For “protein” varieties, customers can pick either of Ogufe, Beef or a particular type of Fish.
Ola Mummy offers almost the same menu option, except for the protein section where they seem to have more varieties.
Iya Ibeji also offers similar menu options but you’d be lucky to get any of the option as they are usually sold out by noon. It’s one of the most popular food canteen in that area, hence best time to visit would be before 1pm.
Turaya Food Canteen has the upper hand in this category as it offers customers swallows like Amala, Semo, Eba, Fufu as well as dishes like Jollof Rice, Fried Rice, Salad, MoiMoi and Dodo. This means they have a wider customer reach as they cater to different needs. For protein they offer customers a choice between Bokoto, Beef, Ogufe, Inu Eran (Innards), Ponmo, Fish and a different type of fried unstewed meat for those who prefer this on their rice.
Ose Olohun’s Amala was very smooth and lump free. Their soup was tasty as is expected in a place of that repute and so was their Beef which was well-seasoned. Eating their beef however called for some struggling with my teeth
Ola Mummy was a great experience. It’s really hard to go wrong with pounded yam, but one can never be too careful. The texture was just right. The vegetable was good and the “bokoto” (peppered cow leg) finessed the whole meal.
Turaya’s Amala looked smooth but had an underlying flour taste that made it seem like this was not properly incorporated. Their soup tasted more homemade than restaurant-standard and their “Ogufe” (Goat Meat) and Fuku was so easy to eat, zero struggling was required.
Iyabeji was a favorite here. I can finally appreciate why they’re usually sold out by 1pm. Had Okro soup this time and it was nothing less of amazing. Unlike some places, they give you more soup that you need.
The sale of Ose Olohun’s Amala for N100/scoop can only be justified by an understanding of their widespread popularity as many would feel like it is not different than that got at other places for N50. Their Ogufe, usually sold for N500/piece was unavailable as at the time I went in so I can’t categorically say whether or not it is price worthy.
Ola Mummy sells each pounded yam wrap for N100, but it’s a very big wrap. I struggled to finish two of these. The vegetable wasn’t so much, so it levels out the good deed that was the pounded yam.
Seeing as Turaya’s Amala still had the underlying taste of flour and it’s size was similar to that to be gotten elsewhere, this can be deemed priceworthy. So also is their Ogufe which sold at N300/piece and their Inu eran sold at N100/piece.
Iya Ibeji sorts out all the issues from the three previous canteens. The wrap is N100 but it’s a big wrap. The give you so much soup and the proteins are ridiculously cheap. Win win!
At Ose Olohun Food Canteen, the food servers are elderly women who seem to just want to serve you your food and see you take your leave; no smiles, no conversation, nothing. For the soup servers, they could constantly get distracted with whatever program was showing on TV and/or with whatever interesting was going on in their phones, as such, you might have to repeat yourself to be attended to or wait a bit longer here as one of the soup servers is also the fee collector The waiters on their part delayed in clearing tables after people, but then this could be because they are understaffed. Ose Olohun Food Canteen has a functional tap area for handwashing but while there was initially some form of soap to be used in handwashing, this finished and people were left with the option of using water only.
Ola mummy is like a busy bank on a busy day, with so many cashiers/attendants, and usually queues too. They women try their best to be pleasant but it’s more of making business move fast that catering to your every inquiry. If you can deal with that, every other thing is okay. There’s a proper sink with running water, soap and even towels/tissue papers.
At Turaya Food Canteen, the food server is a young lady who might initially seem unpleasant but is actually open to answering questions. The soup servers on their part could delay in attending to you as they seem understaffed, 3, as compared to those waiting in line to be attended to. I appreciated the fact that they had someone solely for fee collection as otherwise would have resulted in even more human traffic. In place of a tap, Turaya has a drum filled with water and an endless supply of soap patrons could use to wash their hands in a basin. The waiters here are a bit more punctual in clearing tables after patrons. The issue however is that, while they clear the table of plates, they overlook the crumbs, spills etc. left behind unless their attention is particularly called to it. As their members of staff seem to be familiar with some of their patrons, there is this sense of overfamiliarity that results in inadequate service.
Iya Ibeji has built some sort of familiarity bond with most of the customers here. You can hear them chatting and laughing with the waiters. There’s hardly any hostility or the usual buka cliche of nonchalant women.
Restaurant Space and It’s Environment
Ose Olohun Food Canteen is located by a major motorway and is not easy to miss. It has a functional carpark and is a spaced outlet. That it is spaced however doesn’t mean it is quiet. Instead, it gets a quite rowdy and a little noisy as everyone seems to be talking at the same time.
Ola mummy has a large compound to itself. Hence sufficient parking space, less street noise and no rowdiness. The canteen has two sections, a major eating area and a smaller area that has the service table. It’s a little more organized and structured but still has that buka element
Turaya Fod Canteen is located in what seems to be an inner city lane and is not so easy to miss, especially if you know where you are going. It has no functional carpark and appears to be a rented house which was remodeled to fit the restaurant’s need. On the outside is an open floor where anyone who isn’t particular about privacy or quiet can eat and on the inside are 3 food halls, any of which you can choose to eat in depending on your privacy needs, preference and seat availability. There is also this rather disturbing smell in the dining halls which your nose could quickly get accustomed to.
Iya Ibeji isn’t so big and not as structured. It looks like a living room that was converted to a Canteen. Little or no organization structure, but I don’t think anyone cares about that. Everyone seems to be laughing and jolly eating
Ose Olohun Food Canteen offers great meals but not so great service (2.7/4.0).
Ola mummy canteen fairs a little better with customer service (3.0/4.0)
Turaya Food Canteen has a wider food variety, affords patrons of privacy but has less food quality (1.7/4.0).
Iya Ibeji Canteen has the most satisfying food and a more friendly setting. They lack the structural organization the other canteens have but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. (3.2/4.0)
It’s understandable that bukas have to deal with so many people with different attitudes but I wish they’d be more accommodating even at breaking point. The rudeness and healthcare violation is a cliche that doesn’t need to be. It's hard to recommend a particular buka over another because bukas are not really regarded as a luxury service. That being said “Amala Skye” isn’t the best amala in Ibadan, yeah we said it!
Ayomide Bankole, O.T