Chef Tolu “Eros” Erogbogbo brings his popular underground Nigerian pop-up to Citizen Public Market in Culver City with a new casual restaurant concept, Ilé Bistro
By Dolores Quintana
ILÉ Bistro, the elevated casual Nigerian restaurant has opened at Citizen Public Market in Culver City. The restaurant is an offshoot of Chef Tolu Eros’ immersive fine dining tasting room, ILÉ LA. It is Chef Eros’ first brick-and-mortar space which will serve Nigerian dishes from his childhood and is a celebration of West African cuisine and culture with a California influence.
Chef Eros said, via an emailed statement, “For as long as I can remember, it’s been a dream of mine to share a piece of my culture with a global audience through food. Opening ILÉ Bistro at Citizen Public Market is a dream come true. At my new location, we shine a spotlight on the delicious and aromatic flavors I grew up with in Nigeria from our signature Jollof Rice and Suya to our Pepper Soup.
“I’m looking forward to welcoming Angelenos and visitors from afar for a taste of West African cuisine and culture.”
The Bistro has two main menus: the Rice Bowl Menu which includes a choice of a base, either curried rice or Jollof rice, a protein, like grilled steak, roasted chicken, oyster mushrooms, charred cauliflower, or blackened snapper, a topping like traditional slaw, roasted carrots or green beans, black-eyed peas, fried plantains, or a fried egg, and sauces like zobo vinaigrette, suya chili oil or Nigerian salad cream. The second is the Soup Bowl menu which has your choice of soup, a mild or spicy pepper soup with aromatic broth, a selection of protein that is identical to the Rice Bowl menu and toppings like Mei noodles, simmered yam, bean sprouts, crispy onions, basil, baby corn or a soft boiled egg.
Rick Moses, co-owner of Citizen Public Market enthused, “We could not be more excited to welcome ILÉ Bistro to the Citizen Public Market family. Chef Eros’ incredible talent and celebration of flavor give diners a new reason to visit and try something new.”
Jeff Appel, co-owner of Citizen Public Market said, “The next chapter of dining is now, and Chef Eros is leading the way. We are thrilled to have ILÉ Bistro join our vibrant culinary community.”
If you would like to know more about the cuisine, Chef Eros explained more about what some of the dishes are saying, “A staple in many West African countries, Jollof, which he dubs, “Unity Rice,” combines three distinct styles found in Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal. Stewed in a flavorful Mother Sauce (a combination of tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and habanero.) The chef blends three distinct styles to create a delicious and uniquely complex dish that has smokiness from spices, sweetness from plantains, and both crispy and fluffy textures from the Basmati rice.
Pepper Soup is a Nigerian comfort dish and cultural mainstay traditionally passed from generation to generation. Inspired by his grandmother, Chef’s version of Pepper Soup features an aromatic and complex broth beaming with West African ingredients that deliver a punch of f flavor unlike any other. Sourced from Nigeria, featured spices and herbs include calabash, nutmeg, alligator peppers, and Uziza seeds.
The desserts are milky and powerfully sweet Palm Wine popsicles, created from the sap of palm trees, Lemongrass Cake and Puff Puff, a popular West African fried dough.
Ingredients will be sourced from Africa, specifically the Umilo and Gbafilo spices of Nigeria, Chef Eros’ home country for the authenticity of the dishes and flavors. The restaurant’s operating hours are from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.