The same look you’d give a Lagosian who has never heard about Elegushi beach is the same you’d give someone living in Ibadan but has never heard about Amala Skye in Bodija. I’ve heard tons of stories about this legendary canteen bot decided to take all with a pinch of wheat, waiting on the day I’d actually see things for myself.
The sun shining on Ibadan that afternoon was a bit too much for 2 O’Clock. My first thought was that the angel in charge of controlling it was either sleeping on duty or deliberately wanted to punish the people for an offense committed earlier. You see, Ibadan is a city that is gradually losing its sanity and tranquility partly due to the influx of Lagosians that have been emotionally abused by their megacity.
The entire Bodija market was so busy that you’d think it was the market’s black Friday. I had just alighted from a bike that brought me from Cocoa House in Dugbe. “Oga mi, na N200 you suppose give me o. this place too far for that N150 wey I charge you.” My rider said amidst laughter, wiping the sweat on his forehead with a new N500 note. I fumbled into my Ankara trouser, brought out a weak N200, and gave it to him without looking at him as he kicked his bike to life. He disappeared into the rowdy Market, almost hitting a street beggar.
Now I was all alone clad in my blue Ankara and a medium-sized paper bag, staring straight at Ose Olorun food canteen, the most popular Amala joint in the whole of Ibadan.
I have been to Ibadan more times than I can count but have never had the opportunity of eating at this canteen popularly called Amala Skye (due to its location beside the defunct Skye bank (now Polaris)). With caution, I crossed the road and strolled towards the entrance of the restaurant.
For a restaurant by the roadside, Amala Skye has managed to solve the most crucial problem facing most food houses- Cleanliness. It was a bungalow nestled between a Polaris Bank and a drinks store. The marble tiles covering the building would make you assume there was a secret they’re tiring to hide from the public. They looked like white tiles that have been beautifully smeared by Amala, making you feel you’re actually walking into a house built with the same. The whole space was tidy, including the air my nose managed to drag in.
As I moved closer to the building, the rice booth was what my eyes caught. It was a small-sized aluminum stand where customers who wouldn’t want to eat Amala or any other solid food could buy rice, beans, and plantain from. I think it a cool idea, but since I was there for a business more important than rice and beans, I marched on into the restaurant.
By my immediate right was the guardian of the Amala galaxy. A woman who should be in her late forties. She was so calm that you’d be convinced she enjoys whatever she’s doing there. On the floor in front of her were 5 large bowls containing other wrapped solid foods like Eba, Semo, Fufu, Iyan, and a much bigger cooler contained sizzling hot Amala. Another pointer to the fact that Amala is highly revered here.
Beside these bowls was a large basket of different plates designed specifically for solid foods as they were all deep and looked heavier than the ones in my kitchen at home. I picked one and pointed it to her. Each scoop of amala (although very small) costs N100, so I requested 3. That was what I could comfortably deal with.
The interior of Amala Skye looks interestingly furnished and too tush for an amala joint. The walls were covered with the same tiles like those used outside, only that the white bulbs hanging on the ceiling did a good job of making them sparkle more.
There are 3 sections inside Amala Skye restaurant: the first being the enclosed space where soups and proteins such as vegetables, egusi, bokoto, goat meat, panla, etc. were served. The second and third were dining areas where customers enjoy their meals.
I did a quick scan and figured there were about 80 chairs, all split in a group of 8, with each surrounding the exotic-looking tables. Everywhere I turned, I saw waiters either standing or sitting with a keen interest in your gesture in anticipation for any clue to show them you need anything.
I proceeded to the soup arena which was made of an elevated cement slab covered with tiles and a transparent fine glass which makes it possible to see and communicate with the servers.
I requested for gbegiri and ewedu to go with one piece of ponmo (N200) and a piece of goat meat (N600). While I was being served, I looked around for the best angle that will allow me to devour my food without remorse, so I chose the extreme end of the second section. I really wanted to get my hands dirty.
Although the amala wasn’t the best I’ve had, I would say it was quite good. Perhaps, because I’ve had too much amala in my lifetime. The texture of the ponmo and goat meat was superb though- I didn’t struggle, neither did I found it easy tearing through with my teeth. It was another testimony that there’s always a level playing ground for whatever issues we are faced with in life.
One thing however turned me off. It was the sluggishness with which the fans rolled. “It was bad enough that there was no AC (or they weren’t functional) in such a finely built restaurant. But why on earth would the fans be rolling as though they’ve been owed salaries.” I thought within me as I picked a strand of meat stuck in my teeth.
Overall, I think Amala Skye is that spot where you can enjoy yourself better when you go with friends.
The fact that this place was carefully made to appeal to elites excites me. They most likely knew how popular the restaurant is within the south-west. But as I said, I expected more, especially regarding the absence of ACs.
The food was good.
Nothing major. At least no one pissed me off and I didn’t encounter any difficulties with getting my food.
Would I want to come back? For sure (if they’d fix the fans or bring in ACs), but I’m not sure I’d want to come alone.
Read about my short weekend trip to Ibadan here