50 Best announced Ikoyi the winner of the American Express One To Watch Award 2021 as London’s Ikoyi, co-founded by childhood friends Jeremy Chan and Iré Hassan- Odukale. The award recognises a restaurant considered to be a rising star on the global dining scene and aims to recognise and celebrate gastronomic excellence and innovation.
Since opening in 2017, Ikoyi has distinguished itself for its bold use of flavour, introducing new and original ingredient combinations and presenting them with indefinable style. Chan and Hassan-Odukale have made it their mission to source superlative local produce and serve it in its optimal state. The foundation of their dishes is a vast collection of global spices with a focus on sub-Saharan West Africa, which have been meticulously sourced over the past few years, resulting in menus which surprise the senses with a balance of heat and umami. The restaurant is situated in the heart of St James’s Market, two minutes’ walk from London’s famous Piccadilly Circus.
A chance conversation with friend and now-business partner Hassan-Odukale ignited a spark around the possibilities of African-inspired food. A period of intensive research ensued and what emerged was a series of new dishes with unique flavour profiles and a desire to forge a fresh culinary narrative. Nigerian-born Iré Hassan-Odukale left a corporate background in insurance to co-launch Ikoyi. They both liked the abstract quality of the name, as it represented the starting point of a cuisine totally unique to themselves.
William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants says: “At Ikoyi, Jeremy and Iré have created that rare thing in the restaurant world: an experience that defies characterisation. It is one of the most exciting restaurants to have opened in recent years, with an impressive commitment to flavour and produce. We are delighted to name Ikoyi as the winner of the American Express One to Watch Award 2021.”
The award seeks to recognise and celebrate outstanding emerging culinary talent and fresh experiences. Previous winners have included Lido 84, from Gardone Riviera, Ital, in 2019; SingleThread, California, US in 2018; Disfrutar, Barcelona, Spain in 2017 and Den, Tokyo, Japan in 2016.