Enish (Nigerian) – Hampstead, LondonHALAL STATUS Fully Halal food menu (including goat) • Alcohol served
Enish is a ‘Nigerian Restaurant & Grill’ that offers a fully Halal food menu. Not only is its meat sourced from a local Halal butcher, but it offers goat too.
According to its website, Enish prepares its dishes “to contemporary standards while maintaining that unique traditional flavour Nigerian food are [sic] known for”.
Unless you’re looking up at the sky, there’s no missing this place either, particularly at night, given its ginormous and brightly lit shop front sign. And once you manage to heave open the equally ginormous, heavy wooden front door, you’ll enter a splendidly lit, airy and spacious interior courtesy of its high set ceiling.
Although Enish has a total capacity of around 100, its fully decked out basement, which makes good use of colour-changing LED lights and has its own minibar, large LCD screen, along with cushioned seating for 50, is separate from the main dining area upstairs.
While there’s seating for 28 on the ground floor, which also houses their alcohol bar, there is a separate section up a short flight of stairs that can cater for an additional 22.
But, with retractable windows, said capacity can easily be expanded during warmer climes with outdoor tables.
The highlight of Enish’s contemporary decor, which revolves around a white and cream colour scheme, is its large chandelier which, along with the clever use of gold that includes a large golden-framed mirror, adds a touch of opulence to the place.
Another quirky feature we’ve never encountered before is Enish’s com-system, where each table has a funky little contraption with the buttons: 1) Bill – requesting the final bill; 2) Call – request the assistance of staff, e.g. to place an order, help, cutlery replacement, etc; 3) Cancel – for staff use only to cancel a given ‘Call’!
We were told that this system has been abused by a few pesky customers in the past!
Topped with a good amount of sliced red onions, the idea behind this dish was to masticate on the gelatinous pieces beneath, while savouring the amalgamation of the natural meaty juices and the strongly spiced curry coating.
And while the curry broth also contained what looked like darker versions of sunflower seeds called Ugba, an African oil bean, though far chewier in texture, the sweetness of the crunchy red onions balanced well against the strength of the spices.
While this was, admittedly, a first time for all three Lions, we quickly learned that there’s no such thing as finesse with this meal.
Forget dining decorum and all that jazz, for this is an entirely hands-on experience that will invariably bring out the carnivore in you.
But, don’t expect much meat here. This is essentially a heap of bone, cartilage, marrow and perhaps 2-3 measly bites of flesh you might happen to encounter along your journey.
Cooked in a spicy lental-cum-soup-cum-broth concoction, that has an almost paste-like consistency to it, the idea is to suck, slurp, lick, chew and savour the flavours before quickly discarding and moving on to the next.
It’s certainly worth a punt if you’ve never had goat’s head and/ or experienced an Isiewu! You won’t be forgetting it in a hurry that’s for sure.
The sheer depth of flavour of the soup in this goat dish was spectacular.
In fact, the initial hit was such that even seasoned spice consumers like ourselves found it hard to stave off that natural cough reflex.
This was all about the interplay between the spices, herbs and peppers, and the meaty, fatty and chewy pieces of meat therein.
FROM THE GRILL
Yup; goat meat again! And this Asun really packed a punch. The strong kick of heat from the pepper was unmistakably potent, but not in an unpleasant manner.
What we had here were well spiced pieces of skewered finger food which, alas, given the modest portion, didn’t justify the steep £12.99 price tag.
While the presentation of the food itself didn’t quite do justice to the elegant design of the platter, complete even with the restaurant’s logo, its arrival to the table certainly attracted attention.
This was a huge dish with, of course, the Croaker being the star of the show.
And though it was decently grilled, it was, much to our collective hopes to the contrary, a tad off the right side of being done perfectly moist.
Nevertheless, with all its many accompaniments, including the subtly spiced and fairly watery bowl of tomato sauce, this kept us busily picking away and merrily trying out various combinations to find the right balance.
In the end, the natural sweetness of the meaty texture of the plantain was nicely offset by the smokiness of the grilled peppers.
While the crunchy cabbage and carrot salad covered in a dressing was an effective palate cleanser of sorts.
However, we would have prefered more of that tomato sauce. It provided some much needed moisture to what was otherwise a fairly dry dish.
While the thick-grained rice was lighty spiced, fragrant and well cooked, and the plantain… plantain, it was all about that fish smothered in that rich, vibrant, deep orange sauce.
Tender and flaky to the touch; moist and flavourful, and perfectly good all by its lonesome.
The sauce was an oily tomato-based one, with a touch of spice to it, and gentle enough to impart a tangy-tomatoey edge to the main event without ever undermining it.
This is where you go back up to the top of this page, play our video reel and witness the slimey, ectoplasm texture of the green okra.
If you’ve seen it, then you might be surprised to read that we actually enjoyed it for what it was.
Perhaps it was the novelty factor, but, despite the large nuggets of beef being tough and chewy – actually, given their dark, semi-crispy exterior, they appeared to have been grilled – the combination of the gooey, stringey okra and the mildly spiced tomato broth was a pleasant one.
Along with that, we opted for the Nigerian staple Pounded Yam.
This was, basically, a large ball of dough, similar to perhaps what dry mashed potato would be like, except that this retained enough elasticity to break off and shape into something resembling a ladle, so as to effectively scoop up large quantities of the mixture and enjoy. It was a great first time experience for us!
The imported Fanta is definitely dissimilar enough not to be mistaken for the UK version. It’s mellower in terms of its orange flavour, with an almost sherbet like taste to it.
The non-alcoholic Malta Guiness, again imported in and with a link to Guiness-Nigeria.com, was fruity and far more satisfying. With a gentle sweet after taste, it had a smoothness to it which made for an addictive little beverage.
However, given how spicy some of the above dishes were, it’s the cooling power of this delicious, non-alcoholic rendition of the classic Chapman that ought to be your order of the day.
A beautifully sweet, refreshing drink, with the hint of the cumcumber coming through, that we couldn’t help but have two glasses of.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- UBER EATS
The last thing you want, when seeking after authentic food, is for any restaurant to be guilty of dumming things down to appease the taste buds of the locals. What's the point in that anyway? If you're going to introduce a given cuisine to a new audience, then it makes sense to be true to its spirit, believe in what you know, and force the locals to come out of their comfort zones and appreciate what you love. If it really is as you believe it to be, it'll sell!
And that's what we came away appreciating about Enish. Granted, new taste sensations can take some getting used to; however, with the basics of any food type being known universally, there were dishes had that simply weren't as well executed as they should have been.
Nonetheless, this is a Nigerian restaurant that offers traditional dishes that are Halal, sans any pork on the menu. And given the variety of goat-based ones, we'd recommend all the way the goat's head, if only to encourage breaking out of that culinary comfort zone.
For the neophytes, there's an incredibly helpful glossary of terms on the opening page of the menu, which goes a long way towards explaining key food items and dishes appearing throughout. Be sure to have a proper browse through this. Although having said that, our waiter was quite knowledgeable in this regard and very helpful in breaking things down for us lay diners.
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