An immigrant entrepreneur who launched a northwest Detroit food truck called Fork in Nigeria two months ago has a heads-up for adventurous diners: Some "restaurants we have around here wrongly brand themselves as African," Prej Iroegbu says at his website.
"You can’t claim to be truly and totally African," he adds in a blog post. "There are over 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria alone, over 400 dialects and about 835 local Nigerian dishes."
So as the startup's name suggests, it gives patrons a sampling of Iroegbu's homeland. "Fork In Nigeria is a reflection of the cooking skills of Nigerian women and chefs," says the founder. "It is just like digging in your fork to get delicious bites from an array of Nigerian dishes."
The truck is stationed at 19910 Livernois Ave. and Pembroke Avenue, between the Green Acres and Shewood Forest neighborhoods. It serves from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and last week added deliveries within a local radius.
Main dishes have one of three meats (oxtail, goat or beef) or chicken, served with rice (jollof, stewed or fried) for $12.50 or $13.50. The menu (photos below) also has grilled steak in Nigerian spices, ground beef pie, steamed ground beans with spices and stew (Moi Moi), black-eyed pea fritters (Akara) and melon soup with leafy vegetables (Egusi).
"We serve thick 'Nigerian-grade' soup," posts Iroegbu. "Egusi soup is probably the most prepared soup in Nigeria. It doesn’t matter if you are at a naming, funeral or wedding ceremony." (At the truck, it's served with pounded yam and a choice of meats or chicken for $14.15.)
Other selections include goat shank, cassava leaf stew and fried sweet plantains -- "one of the most essential comfort foods."
The house beverage is Zobo -- deep red hibiscus tea made with pineapple, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. "Nigerians serve it at parties, hawk it on the streets, sell it in stores and even serve it alongside special meals in homes," the proprietor writes in another blog entry. "Zobo is to the Nigerians what smoothie is to the Americans."
The mix of exotic dishes, reasonable prices and neighborhood location seems to be gaining traction. Fork in Nigeria is looking for full-time and part-time help.
The 40-year-old founder, who lives in Southfield with his wife and business partner Precious Iroegby, describes his West African roots in his first blog post last month:
I grew up on a farm, I was brought up to prepare food with pots sitting on firewood. I grew up to understand the difference between a Nigerian dish and Nigerian food prepared in the Nigerian way.
We've made sure to bring that difference over here to the United States. Our sole aim isn'’t just to serve the typical menu of Nigerian dishes, but to serve the true African experience.
Check out the newcomer
Where: 19910 Livernois Ave. (between OuterDrive and Eight Mile Road)
Credit cards: Accepted
Phone: (248) 764-0155
Photo gallery from restaurant