By GODWIN TSA, Abuja
What on earth can make a man roll up his sleeves to wash plate at an eatery before being served? This answer can only be answered by Iya Oyo whose Amala joint ‘Matosh Kitchen’ has this unique practice.
Located at the Wuye District, which is just a two-minute drive from the Berger roundabout and about seven minutes from Area One roundabout, Matosh Kitchen is one of the most popular ‘Amala’ joints in the Abuja metropolis.
Some people explained the crowd to its location which serve as great landmarks for those seeking to have a good lunch on African cuisine.
From the itinerant worker to the student, from civil servants to bankers and Oil&Gas Industry workers in flashy rides; this not-too-classy buka has come to represent more than just a restaurant. The smile of acknowledgement shared by colleagues and friends when ‘Iya Oyo” is mentioned is quite simply amazing .
But it is quite a wonder how popular this place is. Formerly situated in a rather rustic place in Utako, Iya Oyo has moved to Wuye District.
Also, the closeness of Matosh Kitchen to the Family Worship Centre, Pacesetter Schools and the Finance Quarters has further guaranteed its popularity in the neighbourhood as these other institutions are natural crowd pullers.
There are many other Amala joints in the Abuja but none of them pull large crowd as Matosh Kitchen does.
For the avoidance of doubt, some of the popular joints include: opposite next cash n carry; another joint popularly called Alaja, this place is by the guest house near Jevinik in Wuse2; Car wash place: Coming from Apo, it is the car wash just before Blake resort- Garki; Mama Badan, located on Enugu street, off Lagos street in Garki. What stands this one out is that they open on Sundays; Secretariats, located opposite the secretariats in CBD(Central Business District). Here you can find a lot of options.
It is owned by a Yoruba woman, popularly called Iya Oyo by her customers and acquaintances. She manages the food joint which can accommodate over 100 persons at a sitting. It is run as a family business and her husband is the cashier. The joint, patronised by the high and low; classy and urbane, could attract about 500 customers daily.
There is something unique at this joint. By regulations, there are no waiters to serve you so you don’t walk in, sit down and expects a waiter to walk to you and take your order. It’s a rule! On getting there, you make your way to the service station. You place your order after having picked out your ‘stainless steel’ bowl (or plastic take out bowl as appropriate), clean it with serviettes which are provided for you, drop it in a large plastic basket, choose what you want and having been served by some of the surliest women in the city, you make your way to slight less surly cashier, pay the fare and choose a spot to seat.
Sullen, surly, scowling girls put you instinctively on the defensive. If you get to a dirty table and ask that it be cleaned, you may get half the dirt on you . The waitresses (that’s laughable here) couldn’t be bothered to look while swiping the dirt unto the floor.
Among such customers are members of the National Assembly, top civil servants and business executives who value the taste of home-made dishes.
While some of these customers go there in person, some send their secretaries or office assistants to pick up the dishes. It is not clear if the kitchen is involved with outdoor services as Iya Oyo declined to speak about her business to the media. Investigations show that the joint opens from 8a.m. and closes about 9p.m.
Here, Amala and other starch and cereal foods are served very hot at the point of service with different soup like Ewedu, abula, gbegiri, efo, egusi, okro and stew. The meat, which is one of the attractions to the joint are all kinds of animal meat. It ranges from the organs of the slaughtered cow (known in Yoruba parlance as orishirishi) to the beef itself. Other kinds of meat sold at the joints are goat meats, dried fish, fresh fish, dried meat, etc., as many take pleasure in pointing at the meat of their choice from the stew.
It is always a beehive of activities here, but the prime time for the joint is 1p.m. to 4p.m. During prime times, there is a scenario of heavy human traffic, as customers queue for some minutes before they would get to the serving point. A customer who spent less than 15 minutes had complained about it and was told by the person that introduced him to the joint to thank God it was not within the rush hours.
The minimum price of a “wrap” of food at the joint is N100, while the least pieces of meat also goes for N100. To have satisfaction of your visit to the joint, you should be able to spend nothing less than N800, which will include a bottle of water. With family members to the joint, which many do, you will spend an average of N4,000.
Among the Yoruba, you are respected and considered to know a good Amala joint if you speak of the Matosh, Iya Oyo Amala joint. You cannot be said to be a lover of Amala delicacy if you don’t know the Matosh Kitchen in Wuye. The joint has a good advantage of a wide parking space and surrounded by natural habitation.