From Iceland — Joy And Jollof Rice: Introducing Ogolúgo, 101’s Only African Restaurant

Joy And Jollof Rice: Introducing Ogolúgo, 101’s Only African Restaurant

Joy And Jollof Rice: Introducing Ogolúgo, 101’s Only African Restaurant

Published August 14, 2020

Brought to you by
Poppy Askham
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Ogolúgo means “welcome” in Hausa and the name couldn’t be more fitting for Laugavegur’s latest culinary arrival. Since its early July opening, the team behind the restaurant have been determined to deliver a taste of Africa to 101 by offering a host of authentic dishes from attieke to domuda, all served with a generous helping of laughter and hospitality. 

Filling a gap in the market

“I want it to feel like home, that was the main idea,” explains Alex Jallow, Ogolúgo’s owner, waiter, and resident TikTok superstar. “The taste of the food, the smell of the spices, the crowds of people—when you walk in you feel like you’re home, like you’re in Africa.” 

Alex hails from the Gambia and Senegal region of West Africa, but grew up in the U.K. and has been living in Iceland for over ten years. “I love Iceland, but I just felt that that African touch was missing in this country, so when I was able to make it happen, it was a dream come true.”

Before taking up the role of Ogolúgo frontman, Alex worked as a chef. “I got my love for food from my mum. I was always in the kitchen, running in and stealing food from her whilst she was cooking,” he explains. “When I was 11, I would always ask to go to the market. My mum would ask me what I wanted to buy, but I just wanted to go to the market so I could get close to all the different ingredients. That’s the kind of person I’ve been ever since I was little. I’ve always loved food.”

He suddenly jumps up from the table and disappears into the kitchen, emerging with a plate of jollof rice served with crispy plantain and grilled tilapia. He also brings the rather reluctant head chef Dawda in tow. “This is West Africa’s favourite dish, but it can be found all across the continent” Dawda explains. “I have lots of favourite recipes to make and I’m always experimenting, but at the end of the day I’ll always love jollof rice.”

Ogolugo joloff rice dawda

Service with a smile

Although the food is superb, what really stands out from a dining experience at Ogolúgo is the atmosphere, largely thanks to the overbrimming enthusiasm of the restaurant’s owner. Alex practically leaps from table to table, frequently breaking out into dance as he delivers steaming meat pies and huge bowls of okro soup. It’s this exuberance that has earnt him hundreds of thousands of views on the restaurant’s hit TikTok account—username ogolugo101—where he puts his own vivacious spin on the trends of the day, attracting a younger crowd of dedicated diners in the process. His cheerfulness is infectious; within moments of entering the restaurant, you’re grinning along with him and even agreeing to make a TikTok cameo. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Alex did an interview with the Reykjavík Grapevine. It comes out Friday 14 August 2020. Check it out at grapevine.is. 🤩😎 #tiktok #dontleavemechallenge #iceland #reykjavik #african #food #restaurant #travel

A post shared by Ogolúgo African Restaurant (@ogolugo101) on

“Trust me, I don’t even know where I get my energy from myself and I’m in here every single day,” he laughs. “It’s all about happiness. There’s so much positive energy in this restaurant. My customers look forward to coming here, and they love it when I’m dancing around the place. It makes me happy to make them happy so I don’t even notice that I’m running around and that time is going by. I can’t complain. I am happy, very happy.”

And there we find Ogolúgo’s secret: not only is it 101’s only African restaurant, it’s also the postcode’s most joyful dining spot. I leave the restaurant like every other diner, with a full stomach and a smile on my face, having promised a swift return. 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We did a photo shoot for the Reykjavik Grapevine. Check it out at grapevine.is! 🤩 #African #restaurant #iceland

A post shared by Ogolúgo African Restaurant (@ogolugo101) on

Visit Ogolúgo at Laugavegur 85, open 11:30-23:00 Monday-Saturday and 12:30-23:00 on Sundays. 

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Culture
Food
Global, But Make It Local

Global, But Make It Local

by

Culture
Food
New In Town: Gaeta Gelato

New In Town: Gaeta Gelato

by

Show Me More!