Obalende Suya Express, Peckham


Obalende Suya Express

I have discovered the suya. Just down the road on Peckham High Street is a place selling skewer after sizzling skewer of this African street food. The suya originated in Nigeria and is basically like an African kebab; thin strips of meat are rubbed with ground peanuts and spices and then grilled. A traditional accompaniment is sliced tomato and onion.

I’ve been eyeing up Obalende Suya Express ever since I moved to Peckham. It’s a scruffy little place, the waiting area consisting of a few battered chairs that look like they came from an old boys’ club in Blackpool about 20 years ago; the paint peels from the walls and there’s a strip of those plastic backlit signs above the counter a la classic ‘bab shop. Behind it though, is the grill, and this is where the magic happens. I tried hard to remember the last time I’d eaten such smoke infused meat. It didn’t happen.

My beef suya strips were tender in the middle and then almost jerky-like at the edges, with treasures of crisp fat. Even the jollof rice was good and I’ve never really been a fan; it was almost dry yet not claggy, held together with an orange, hot peppered paste which hummed in our mouths. The really big surprise though, was the fried plantain. I’ve always struggled with its sweetness and often mushy texture but Obalende had cooked theirs with a touch of acidity and boy, does it make all the difference.

We scuttled off to a nearby park bench (classy as ever) and forked as much as possible onto each white plastic tine. Suya is officially my new takeaway of choice. Okay maybe not ultimately more than jerk but there are similarities; the chilli, ginger and garlic are there but it’s the ground peanuts that take this off in a different direction. Once you’ve chosen your meat from the selection of beef, goat, gizzards, chicken, lamb, fish or er, ‘crocodile/shark’, they sprinkle some of the extra meat rub on top. It’s like a soft-hot smoke bomb going off in your mouth.

The portions are enormous; we paid £5.75 each and neither of us finished. If I had one criticism I suppose I could say that it looked a bit of a mess, but then this is street food. It’s all about the flavour and a wise eye and greedy appetite will see its beauty. Their website claims that “many publications” have dubbed them the ‘African MacDonald’s’ but I think this gives the wrong impression. It’s fast food, yes but 100% genuine and it’s got guts. It’s classic Peckham, let’s face it.

Obalende Suya Express
43 Peckham High Street
London SE15
Tel: 020 7703 7033

Obalende Suya on Urbanspoon

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  • Avatar
    Reply Rich August 9, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    It’s somewhere I’ve walked past but never even thought of going into… just looked like a standard ‘bab or chicken house from the outside… love the sound of that smokey chilli heat though!


  • Reply Tweets that mention Obalende Suya Express, Peckham — Food Stories -- August 9, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FoodStories and Chris, richmajor. richmajor said: Yet more quality Peckham food treats! RT @FoodStories: New blog post: Obalende Suya Express, Peckham […]

  • Avatar
    Reply Martin August 9, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Peanuts…crispy fat… you had me at “kebab”. Am planning a journey to Peckham right now…

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    Reply Liana @ femme fraiche August 9, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    How useful! I’m heading to London tonight adn this looks DELISH. The least suspecting places are always the best, in my opinion/experience. I cherish my little hole-in-the-wall dining adventures, they always leave the most vivid memories….

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    Reply David Carnell August 10, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Hello Helen

    Have been reading your blog for a while now and think it’s rather splendid.

    I’ve been exploring street food recently (including the famous Meatwagon) so will be heading here on Friday to check it out. I don’t know if you have a favourite jerk shop but can recommend Lincolns Inn at the bottom of Maxted Rd if you haven’t already tried it.

    There is also an excellent chicken place on Southampton Way but I can’t remember it’s name (although I know it’s half sierra leonian).

    Viva Peckham.

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    Reply Essex Eating August 10, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Wow, well done for finding this Helen. I’d just walk past somewhere like this more often than not, but seems you’ve stumbled on a bit of a gem. Never encountered Suya before either – so Ive learnt something as well 🙂

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    Reply rosie lovell August 10, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    ooo now i know what you meant by suya. sounds wicked! have been previously sceptical, so will check out. ta! x

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    Reply shayma August 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    spent a chunk of my childhood in Nigeria-adore suya! fantastic that you have a place to go to-though i am sure you can replicate it w your culinary genius. x shayma

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    Reply Alex August 11, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    That. Looks. Awesome. Sat here having just got back from a run and wishing I had one of those right here, right now

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    Reply Mathilde's Cuisine August 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    I have never tried Suya but the dish looks amazingly good. I love that kind of street food atmosphere where the food is unexpectingly good. great feeling

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    Reply Jonathan August 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I want some! What other African specialities do they have? If they’ve got Yassar Chicken I may have to move back to London and take up residency in Peckham!

  • Avatar
    Reply An American in London August 12, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Love the idea of rubbing meat with ground peanuts and spices. How do the peanuts avoid burning and falling off, do you think?

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    Reply David Carnell August 16, 2010 at 11:11 am

    So I went on Friday night and……hmmm……meh.

    Had some suya beef and chicken, one with plantain, one with jollof rice.

    The chicken was pretty good. Spicy, smokey and tasty. Also, the plantain was excellent.

    But the beef was dry and tough – almost like jerky. And a measly portion for 50p more than the chicken. The jollof rice was…well….rice.

    But I’m glad I went and will continue to look out for decent streetfood offerings in SE London. Keep up the good work.

  • Avatar
    Reply Anne Bowers August 25, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    we’re off there tonight (and will try Lincolns Inn as it’s about 3 seconds from my front door) … can’t wait

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    Reply Helen August 26, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Hi Anne, glad to hear you’re going. I’m a bit worried that the quality might be variable as I had a great experience but David above obviously didn’t. Do let ne know what happens!

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    Reply Odinga Michael November 14, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I am a Kenyan living in the UK but I love Nigerian foods and I must say that when I tasted suya, I wanted to eat it again and again, good to see that we now have it in Peckham

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 14, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      Well, don’t get too excited! See how it compares first…

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    Reply Jennifer September 4, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I wanted to ask what time it opens and closes

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen September 15, 2015 at 8:15 am

      I’m not sure, sorry. Maybe try calling them? Or just wing it and go and have a look?

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