A West African restaurant in Fitzrovia has received its first Michelin star.

According to the Michelin.com website, a Michelin Star is “awarded to restaurants offering outstanding cooking.” They consider five criteria when giving a star to a particular restaurant. These are: the quality of the ingredients, the harmony of the flavors, the mastery of the techniques used, the personality of the chef expressed through their food, and the consistency across the entire menu and over time. The Michelin Star, which is awarded annually, is a prestigious award that is given simply for the food on the plate and nothing else.

For Akoko, this award comes on the heels of their founder Aji Akokomi’s West African heritage, as well as their dedicated team of chefs and their expert craftsmanship of traditional dishes that push the boundaries of culinary creativity. Their website states that they blend the freshest seasonal British ingredients with African spices, which results in a dining experience that is both culturally resonant and distinctly exceptional.

Akoko’s menu—which includes dishes such as Gambian Stew, Moimoi, Jollof Rice, Tatale, Ayamese, and Mustard Yaji, for example—showcases their diverse West African dishes by offering three drink pairings, which combines ingredients, cocktails, and wines from across Africa. For non-drinkers, house-made beverages are offered to complement their meals. Google reviews for the site have shared that the restaurant has excellent ambiance and “once-in-a-lifetime” food, and that the menus are not just creative, but top-notch. Some have even stated that Akoko is the “top restaurant experience” they have had in the United Kingdom, and that their food is “out of this world.”

AD 4nXe7qVvlHw1xHRhSXnEzSCLdGHdKlSjip weWGI ltOda786qW27ap3mhTfNXINJPZ5T8WyRqKaRm98nx9TT9iX lD3MhRAqtypOFf8pSWPOVSA jbbbc5GjGu v8IuCpjQAIpYzet7HD3OFg36OMaEtqhs?key=KN9tsFF15l33wYWD9wTL7Q

Michelin Stars have notably been awarded to restaurants that serve French or even Italian cuisine. Japanese cuisine eventually penetrated the market, but for the most part, western or Western-allied restaurants have been the most common to earn them. Franco-Italian classicism has even been seen throughout Japan for quite some time and is now seen as a “branch” of cuisine. However, it should be noted that, while food from China, India, and elsewhere is not unloved in the West, it has been deemed as “not esteemed” by some. 

Recently, the Michelin Star has surged in West African cuisine. Akoko, Chishure, and Ikoyi have four stars between them; and as certain diasporas become richer, their restaurants can sustain higher-than-ever standards in even pricier cities.

According to some, there have always been reasons for certain cuisines to be unrecognized. Statements such as certain heats not pairing with wine, and the flavor possessing shortcuts are only some of them. However, Michelin, which was once a more North Atlantic phenomenon, has advanced into further territories of interest.

In terms of experience, Michelin Stars, and the people who award them, note that it is very important that the international experience can be shared across all cultures and enjoyed by all. By being awarded a Michelin Star, a restaurant is deemed as one of the most elite in its class, and those Stars are awarded on one-, two-, and three-star tiers. This prestigious recognition not only celebrates culinary excellence but also encourages chefs and restaurants to continually innovate and elevate their offerings.