Naija Jollof is a food court stall cooking up hard-to-find Nigerian eats.
Tucked away on the upper floor of Westwood Square Mall, this little kiosk is the first and only food court business in Canada specializing in African food.
The presence of the business itself has transformed this quiet, historically South Asian community hangout into a hub for the Nigerian community.
People seem to come far and wide for a taste of home, and when we visit, there are two groups who have travelled all the way from Waterloo for suya and moi moi.
Owner Beauty Derosa, who also manages to run her real estate business on the side, says it was difficult at first to find a mall that would let her set up shop: the lack of precedents for successful African food court stalls in the city, let alone the country, made mall owners hesitant.
Eventually she staked out a spot in Woodside Square, and her business has been bustling ever since.
To keep her guests entertained during long line ups, Beauty even sets up a Ludo board and a tray for Ise (basically the Nigerian version of the marble game Jackstones) on the food court tables in front of the stall.
What started as a menu encompassing eats from all over Africa has been whittled down to Nigerian favourites (though she does hope to open a full-continent African restaurant one day).
Jollof, the namesake rice dish that's popular throughout West Africa (Nigeria in particular) is a flavourful blend of tomatoes and chicken broth. You can get it as a side with a bunch of different daily specials.
We get it with a portion of roasted turkey in a sweet pepper sauce ($6.99), and some fried plantain ($1.25).
Fufu is another essential Nigerian dish and easily my favourite. Traditionally made from smashed starchy foods like green plantains or cassava, this version is made with potatoes.
You'll be provided with a bowl of water to clean your hands in before digging into this dish. Use your fingers to scoop some fufu up with the accompanying side. In this case, it's egusi: a blended melon seed mixture made with spinach and beef.
The goat meat dish, roasted with ginger and pepper, is super spicy but tastes delicious with plain white rice or a deliciously simple fried rice.
Tried and true snacks include puff-puff ($1.99 for three), which are simple flour balls fried in veggie oil, with a little nutmeg.
Balls of akara ($1.99 for three) are made from a blend of black eyed peas and other beans.
Maybe the strangest and most luxurious thing on the menu is an order of giant African land snails covered in sweet peppers ($20 for three pieces).
This delicacy is definitely not for everyone: both slimy and crunchy, it looks like mushrooms at first glance, or maybe even eggplant, but the soily aftertaste will remind you that's definitely not that.
If you're planning on heading to Naija Jollof, make sure to check out their Instagram account on the day of to make sure they still have what you're looking for: they tend to sell out fast.