West African-inspired Arike Restaurant has been open since March, and if you haven’t tried it yet, you should make it a point to.
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The eatery took over the address at 1725 Davie Street in the West End. It was the former location of Italian spot ‘Grotto,’ and while not too much has changed in the space in terms of decor, Arike is certainly not serving up your run-of-the-mill pasta and pizza.
The 1693 sq. ft. basement-level West End restaurant was named after head chef Sam Olayinka’s grandmother, and the menu offers patrons a taste of Nigerian-Canadian cuisine that’s not common in downtown Vancouver.
While this spot is open about not serving authentic Nigerian food, Arike emphasizes its grub is inspired by West Africa, a fusion of that heritage mixed with Canadian cuisine – which makes for an interesting array of offerings.
If you dine here be sure to start with the Fried Habanero Corn Fritters, or what our table called “adult Corn Pops,” sans milk.
These morsels were just as delicious as a savoury starter as they were reimagined as one of two desserts available at Arike, ‘Pof Pofs’ made with ginger honey, cinnamon sugar, and mint.
Other starters to spotlight include the bang-for-your-buck Free-Range Chicken Wings. Get this hefty serving tossed in either salt and pepper, ata din din pepper sauce, or in suya BBQ sauce.
A flatbread for the table is likely not a bad idea, and while there were some mouth-watering veggie varieties like the Smoked Mushrooms and Marinated Pepper, we opted for the Pulled Oxtail and Cured Pork Belly.
Thin and crispy (but still foldable), this flatbread also featured a caramelized onion base, soft house cheese, pickled habanero, and cured tomato.
But this was just the warm-up, the real showstopper was the Fried Jollof Rice. This hearty main comes with the diner’s choice of either three marinated prawns or two skewers of grilled suya beef striploin, but extra protein can be added for an additional price.
The rice is the base of this dish, and man, it burns so good.
A slow crawl to peak heat in your mouth, you’ll be feeling the aftermath of the tingling heat for a solid 5-10 minutes after you’ve taken your last bite, and that’s not a bad thing if you ask us.
If you need something to cool yourself off after all that spice, we’d recommend digging into the second dessert on the menu, the Milo Ice Cream.
Made from the nostalgic Nestlé treat made from chocolate and malt powder, popular in South America, Southeast Asia, and some parts of Africa, Arike’s take on this treat is topped with salted caramel, peanut crumb, and whipped pumpkin seed.
Arike with a group is fun, you get to try a bit of everything and not break the bank. Folks can also feel comfortable coming here solo or in pairs, for instance, a flatbread and a couple of starters will certainly leave you satisfied.
The beer list was good and the service was too. Be sure to stop in and get a taste of this West African fusion eatery in Vancouver.
Address: 1725 Davie Street, Vancouver