• Friday, December 01, 2023
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Akara House: Bringing the Nigerian taste to New York


Ever thought of Akara being prepared in a way that it’s quite appealing to Nigerians and Americans at the same time ? Funso Akinya, the founder of Akara House in New York, America made this possible.

Akinya’s Akara House offers a new type of Veggie Burger with popular Nigerian recipe ‘Akara’ taking a major chunk of the burger. It’s a little Nigerian and a little American.

Akara is a classic Nigerian fritter made from bean flour. It is bite-sized, savory, crispy, and perfect for breakfast

The mix of Akara with mouthwatering Vegan Bliss sandwish, packed with fresh colourful veggies, creamy vegan spread, and served on freshly baked artisan bread has become a sought after recipe in New York.

At Akara House, US and non US citizens living in New York can indulge in the flavours of Nigeria with exquisite breakfast featuring ogi ‘pap’ and Akara fritters.

Located at Nostrand Avenue, between Bergen and Dean Streets, Akara House currently open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on weekdays, until 12:00 midnight on Saturday, and until 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Read also: Taste the Future: Chef Ette Assam’s insights on elevating Nigerian food to a global delicacy

According to Hell Gate publication, Funso Akinya was growing up in Nigeria, in a small town about a three hour drive from Lagos, fried bean fritters known as akara were a street food staple, usually purchased in the early morning, packed up with some bread on the side, and brought to school or work for lunch.

Akinya moved to Brooklyn in the early aughts—he’s lived in Crown Heights for the last dozen years—and immediately got into the hospitality business. “I’ve always been a lucky guy to work in the food industry,” he told Hell Gate. “My first job was at McDonald’s, in my second week in America. The food there tasted really good,” he added.

Akinya’s memories of his childhood favorites refused to dim, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that he seriously considered opening his own restaurant. “I started thinking about the vegan and vegetarian community in Brooklyn,” he told Hell Gate, “and I realized that akara, which is a plant-based food, could be part of that. I realized that I could turn it into a sandwich.”

Read also: Nigerian foodtech Orda raises $1.1m pre-seed to build software for African restaurants

According to Grub Street, Funso Akinya moved to Brooklyn from Nigeria two decades ago, his first job was cooking at a McDonald’s in Sheepshead Bay. There, he gained some crucial insight into this country’s palate: “Americans like mayonnaise, they like pickles, they like garlic,” he says. “I studied it to know what fast food is all about.”

Even still, it wasn’t until 2021 that Akinya thought about opening his own restaurant, while moonlighting as a deliveryman for DoorDash and UberEats (a serial entrepreneur, Akinya also runs a medical-supplies store and, during COVID, built an online delivery platform for Nigerian groceries). Now, after a yearlong search for a space and a three-month build-out of the Crown Heights storefront, Akinya is putting what he learned at McDonald’s to work at his first restaurant, Akara House, nodding to the black-eyed pea fritters that are, as the name suggests, the specialty of the house.

In addition to West African staples such as suya, moi moi (a blend of black-eyed peas, garlic, ginger, and onions steamed in banana leaf), and jollof rice, Akinya also takes akara sandwiches, common in Nigeria, and turns them into burgers, an idea he had after watching chicken sandwiches and plant-based patties explode in popularity.

According to Grub Street Akinbami starts by seasoning the akara with garlic and ginger, in addition to the usual onion and chile. They’re fried to order and stuffed into agege, a white bread that Akinya gets from a baker in Atlanta. Next, he adds a slick of mayo, homemade pickles, and American cheese or mozzarella.

On the side: the pepper sauce ata dindin, which provides a proper but not overwhelming kick. (As for the size, it’s somewhere between a slider and a diner burger — more of a snack than a meal — so it makes sense to order two. There, Akiya has his customers covered: The cost is $6 each, but an order of two is discounted to $10.) The sandwiches are crunchy, creamy, and a little bit sweet; the combination will make perfect sense to anyone who has ever eaten a McChicken.