Nigerian restaurant makes waves in Berlin with delicacies straight from mama’s kitchen
Ebeano, which roughly translates as “the place to be” in the Igbo language, is the name of a Nigerian restaurant in Pohlstrasse, off the popular Potsdamer Strasse in the Tiergarten district of Berlin.
Owner and chef Vincent Nnamani, a trained builder (he has a diploma in building engineering from a Nigerian polytechnic), is a veritable demon of the kitchen. He brings back fond memories of the joy of mama’s kitchen with the delicacies he serves here.
First-time visitors are usually surprised by the range of Nigerian dishes on offer, from pounded yam and eba with okro, bitterleaf, vegetable, uha and assorted soups to fried yam and plantains (“Kochbanannen” to Germans) to suya, jollof rice, moi moi, ugba, nkwobi and plenty more. Also, imported Nigerian drinks, ranging from popular West African brands Star, Gulder and 33 lager beers to Guinness stouts, ensure that the Nigerian/African experience is complete.
Nnamani, who arrived in Germany in the late 1990s, initially intended to pursue a career in building engineering. But language and other barriers put paid to those aspirations. Rather than despair, he sought to make the best of the situation, becoming a shining example of what doggedness can accomplish. Today, people from all walks of life, hues and shades flock to Ebeano to whet their appetites with delicious Nigerian cuisine.
Apart from Antonella, the manager who is of Italian origin (but who can also be called an Italo-Nigerian owing to her excellent assimilation of the Nigerian culture and mentality), Ebeano boasts three other staff members – two waitresses and an auxiliary cook.
Nnamani’s primary training as a building engineer shows in the interior design of the place: the wall is adorned with African painting, masks and sculpture. To boot, there is always Nigerian music in the background.
Nnamani reveals that he acquired his cooking skills from his mother, who was so famed for her culinary prowess that young, nubile women were sent to her to learn how to cook to prepare them for married life (after all, the way to a husband’s heart is through his stomach, according to an African adage). Visiting his mother’s kitchen back then, Nnamani incurred the wrath of his father, who felt that cooking was a feminine activity and that his young son should concentrate on masculine things. But Nnamani persevered. In hindsight, guests of the restaurant can only say: Thank God he did!