Photo courtesy of Ikoyi.

The One Who Keeps the BookLondon

How To Get Into Ikoyi, One of London’s Most Exciting Restaurants Right Now


Welcome to The One Who Keeps the Book, a regular series that aims to answer the question that matters most, “How do I get in?” The first answer is Resy, of course. But every restaurant manages its tables differently. There are always secret tips, tricks, and shortcuts to be discovered. So, here we go, straight to the source to get them for you.

While Ikoyi‘s roots were heavily influenced by the ingredients and flavours of West Africa, this red-hot London restaurant now leans into an eclectic, daring palette of flavours, ingredients and methods that can draw from Japanese methods and hyperseasonal British produce, to Nordic techniques that chef Jeremy Chan uses to create dazzling, innovative tasting menus, one of which will be showcased exclusively for Resy users on June 13th as part of Resy Drop Week.

With its new site at the Brutalist 180 The Strand, this two Michelin-starred restaurant draws people from all over the world to London with a combination of accolades and the kind of word-of-mouth that most establishments can only dream of. As a consequence, the restaurant — even with a £300 tasting menu — can be tough to get into during busy times. We spoke to co-founder and Ikoyi’s director Iré Hassan-Odukale on how to snag a seat at one of the most exciting fine dining restaurants in the world right now.

How long has it been since you opened Ikoyi?

We opened in 2017.

How many seats does the restaurant have?


When do reservations drop on Resy?

Reservations drop on the first of each month, and people can book up to two months in advance.

Do you keep aside tables for walk-ins? If so, what’s the best time to try on a busy night?

No. We used to at the old space before we moved as we had more tables, but now we only have 10 tables so all tables are available online.

We definitely do get last minute cancellations so people should still try last minute. I mean, if we have space we’ll gladly seat you.

From 3pm, you can start calling the restaurant but it’s probably best to get us by email because we respond to emails quicker than calls. But if you go on Resy and if you use the Notify option, you should get an email when something comes up.

For someone who’s never been to the restaurant, what are the must-try dishes?

The tasting menu changes often but since day one Jollof rice has been on the menu and still is — it’s a rice dish which we serve with the main course. That said it is not exactly the same as it was when we opened, it is more refined and not as spicy, but it is still my favourite.

How long is your Notify list on any given night?

We have about 15-25 guests on the Notify list each night. So almost the same number as the number of guests we have booked in.

What do you think keeps the restaurant packed each night?

I think it’s our cuisine, food — our innovative cuisine that is unique to us. And yeah, I think that uniqueness keeps people interested and wanting to come to try something new and different.

Every night is filled with people that have come from out of town. — Iré Hassan-Odukale

What’s the vibe like on a Friday night? What music is playing? What’s the crowd like?

It’s the same every evening, and it’s the same kind of service. [The crowd] is a mixture of people celebrating occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, a few regulars, and a lot of international guests. Every night we have guests from out of town. We probably have more foreigners (visitors) dining with us than we do Londoners every evening.

Which is your favourite table? Can people request specific tables?

Yes, they can make a request. If it’s for two people, I will say table 3 or 4 because those two are quite intimate and they’re big. They’re by the corner so they feel cut off from the rest of the room and you can feel like you’re having an intimate experience. For bigger groups, the Private dining area. It seats up to 6.

Finally, any tips or tricks for getting a table during the busiest periods?

I think with reservations, the earlier, the better. As reservations drop on the first of the month for the following month, on the day of release you have your pick of any dates that month. I don’t know anyone who has tried to get a reservation in the first few days when it opens up and hasn’t managed to.

Also, you can always change your bookings as long as you do so 48 hours before and there’ll be no charge. So make a reservation at the start of the month, and if your plans change you can always go back and change it.

Ikoyi will be offering a five-course tasting menu of classic dishes prepared by Jeremy Chan and his team on 13 June, drawn from the book Ikoyi: A Journey Through Bold Heat. Each guest will receive a complimentary signed copy of the book. Tickets on sale here.

Juli Suazo is a freelance writer based in London.