Sunday, April 28, 2019 8:00 am
By Bayo Adeyinka
I thought I knew all the major good eateries in Ibadan until Kola Fabeku told me about ‘Shooting’ pounded yam. That eatery is beside Shooting Stars club house at Jericho. It’s absolutely non-descript. No signages- but five elderly women pounded away at yam inside a mortar with their pestles while several cars were parked at the frontage. When I tried to take the pictures of the women pounding away, they were only too glad to oblige. “Ya mi daa daa o” (make sure you take my pictures well), they chorused.
Now, if you have never eaten ‘Shooting’ (pronounced Sooting) pounded yam, only Heaven knows what you have been eating. It’s the kind of pounded yam you will eat and share testimony later. The pounded yam comes straight from the mortar and it is steaming hot. The pounded yam is soft and from another pot comes the ‘efo elegusi’. The aroma of the vegetable showed that locust beans (iru) were added to it. For your information, vegetable is never complete without locust beans. The soup was done using firewood. Maybe you don’t know but ‘firewood soup’ tastes better. Just like ‘firewood jollof rice’. So I had a chance to point at the type of meat I wanted.
Now, Mama Ekiti (that’s what I heard someone call the owner) is a lover of democracy as all of us stayed on a queue with our bowls in our hands. When it got to my turn, I carried my bowl proudly and made my way to the makeshift open-air canteen. Well, it’s not quite open-air as we sat under a tent with natural breeze blowing on our faces. I flung my tie backwards as I dug into the dish. No tie that was fashioned against me shall prosper. I saw two of my staff at the place and I told them to expect their queries when they get to the office. Keeping ‘Sooting’ pounded yam secret from me is an offense tantamount to treasonable felony.
And if you want a highbrow eatery where you can take a guest to and still not feel ripped off, try Chrysallis. Chrysallis has two outlets in Ibadan: one off the road behind the Bodija Police Station and the other beside Leadway Insurance at Ring Road. Their outlets don’t have any signage as their main strategy for selling is word of mouth. No restaurant in Ibadan has the quality of service that Chrysallis has. Right from the security guards at the gate to the staff at the restaurant, everyone delivers excellent service. If I need a staff, I’ll come right here to poach one. If you visit this restaurant, please ensure you visit their rest rooms also. They are sparking clean with hand towels meticulously arranged for just a one-time use. The toilets have removable and flushable seat covers. My favourite meal is their yamarita with African salad. But then, if you are really hungry, please call and place your order at least 30 minutes before your arrival. Overall, you’re guaranteed a memorable experience.
At Ventura Mall, Samonda is Kabachi, a Thai-themed restaurant. I remember I took all my managers there one Monday morning for a breakfast meeting. If you want Chinese food, this is the place for it. Then there’s Martha’s Kitchen on Magazine Road, Jericho. Her food is good but my favourite is her poundo yam and edi-kaikong.
And talking about Malls, Ibadan now has 4 malls for those who like to shop. Ventura Mall is at Samonda, Palms Mall is at Ring Road and it boasts of having the largest parking lot for any mall in Nigeria, Heritage and Cocoa Malls at Dugbe. Ibadan has 3 cinemas with Heritage, Palms and Ventura having one each. Unfortunately, the one at Heritage Mall got burnt a few months ago. I usually marvel when I see the crowd at the two Shoprite outlets in Ibadan, especially during public holidays or festive periods. Yes, Ibadan has two Shoprite outlets. And Ibadan also has not one Domino Pizzas but two- one at Ring Road and the other at Bodija.
There’s Cold Stone Creamery also at Palms, Ring Road and Town Planning, Oluyole. By the way, can’t the State Government do something about Agbowo Shopping Complex and develop it into a mall? The location is superb and I’m sure the cinema in that place will be the highest grossing because of its proximity to the University of Ibadan. How can such a place lie in ruins?
One supermarket that has endured and expanded with the times in Ibadan is FoodCo. FoodCo started out with an outlet where AB Plaza is now located many years ago. I was almost sure that the arrival of Shoprite might signal its demise but FoodCo Supermarket is waxing stronger and stronger with several outlets at Monatan, Idi-Ape, Jericho, Heritage Mall and Bodija. A few years back the major competitor to FoodCo was Zooma Stores. Zooma still remains a little more than just a front-house store. I stopped going to Zooma Stores several years back because of poor service. Then the owner served you as if she was doing you a favour. Then there was Favos at Bodija. That was my favorite supermarket in the 90s. If you wanted to give any lady a treat those days, just take her to Favos Supermarket. That’s a ticket to winning her for keeps.
If you needed to buy medication in the 90s, there was ABC Chemists and then in the 2000s, there was Pharmalot and Oluyole Chemists. ABC and Pharmalot are gone now but Ibadan now has HealthPlus, MedPlus and Vanguard Pharmacy at all the shopping malls. One pharmacy that has been there for several years is Kunle Ara opposite UCH. If you don’t get a particular drug at Kunle Ara, it’s doubtful if you can get it anywhere else. However, I’m wondering why Kunle Ara has remained as a single outlet over these years.
Ibadan has 8 major commercial hubs- Challenge, Ring Road, Agbeni, Bodija, Iwo Road, Mokola, Dugbe and Oke-Ado. Agbeni Market is only second to Oke-Arin Market in Lagos in terms of fast moving consumer goods volumes. There’s no reason why Oyo State can’t double its IGR over the next 6 months. If they want to know how, they should contact me.
Drive around Ibadan at night and you will marvel at how the City has woken up. There are several lounges and relaxation spots that started in the last few years. GQ (Gentleman’s Quarters) is at Bodija on Awolowo Road. The array of cars that park on that road will stun you. BubblePlus is at Ring Road. Appollos Lounge is right inside Palms Mall. If you’re looking for an ‘owambe’ lounge, look no farther. Apollos has a ‘tungba’ artiste who plays on certain days and an in-house comedian. That is the only place you will see people peddling new naira notes at 9pm. Yes, they spray money at Apollos Lounge. 360 Lounge is on Elebu Road, Oluyole Extension. 411 is beside Cotton’s Club off Awolowo Road. Latitude Lounge is at Ventura Mall. Echo Lounge is on Ring Road. Not to forget Options 24/7 which has been around for ten years. What’s happening to Koko Dome?
Ibadan has a dearth of good hotels. The popular names like Lafia, Kakanfo, DRovans and Premier are dated. Some of them still have box TVs in their rooms. Ambience and aesthetics are poor. A few bouquet hotels like La Maison at Iyaganku GRA stand out. Then there’s Bayse One Place at Jericho and Development and Support Centre at Iyaganku GRA too. Ibadan is ripe for a good brand like Protea or even Sheraton. I know the State Government is trying to build a Sheraton hotel under a PPP arrangement but the location will signal a death knell for Premier Hotel.
One other reason I love Ibadan passionately is the very low cost of engaging artisans. I called up Akinloye to see if he could recommend anyone who could work on my vehicle’s air conditioning. It had started malfunctioning for close to two weeks. Now, if you don’t know, Akinloye is the most honest and efficient ‘mechanic’ I’ve ever met in Ibadan. Akinloye knows his onions around Japanese cars especially. I started using Akinloye in 2001 and he has remained my ‘mechanic’ ever since. Akinloye understands customer service even if he can’t explain it. When I relocated to Lagos from Ibadan, he never lost touch. Akinloye will call me up and ask after my family. Even though I didn’t bring my vehicle to him for some years, hardly will a month pass by without Akinloye calling at least once. If Akinloye were a banker, he will make an excellent relationship officer. I have spoken about about him at least once on this page.
So naturally, it was to Akinloye I turned. He called up an air conditioning technician inside his motor workshop at the mechanic village. After examining my car, the fellow said the problem was the ‘evaburator’. I’d never heard the word before. He said it was very expensive and would cost 30k. But then he would have to engage a ‘rewire’ who will remove my dashboard before he can fix the ‘evaburator’. Not quite satisfied, I asked my driver to take the vehicle to Mandillas at Oke-Ado. The guys in Mandillas first charged me 5k for diagnostics. Thereafter, my vehicle was examined and they came up with the same problem- it was the ‘evaburator’. However, they couldn’t give me the cost implication on the spot. And so I waited until yesterday when I had to call Mandillas for their quote.
I got the shock of my life when I got Mandillas’ quote- they will fix the ‘evaburator’ for 813k. Their quote stated that they will buy front evaburator and back evaburator. So I decided to take my chances today. Akinloye came to my office to pick my car and I handed over 30k to him. This evening, he returned my vehicle with the air conditioning working perfectly. He brought the ‘evaburator’ that was changed and showed me how it was bad. It was at that point that I knew he was referring to evaporator. I asked Akinloye if there were cars with more than one evaporator and he replied that only Toyota Sienna has two. And mine is not a Sienna. So does it mean the Mandillas crew wanted to cheat me? I paid an extra 5k to cover labour and hose. Sorry, Mandillas, your loss is my gain. An average Ibadan technician or artisan is good. And cheap. Life is good in Ibadan.
• My Bayo Adeyinka, is a banker, writer, motivational speaker and social entrepreneur, wrote this piece in October 2015