Toronto

This Scarborough restaurant serves up sweet, spicy and savoury Nigerian classics

The Suya Spot is at 269 Morningside Ave, Toronto. 

The Suya Spot is at 269 Morningside Ave, Toronto

The beef, chicken and goat Suya from The Suya Spot in Scarborough is served on Jollof rice and plantains. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Metro Morning host Ismaila Alfa joins food guide Suresh Doss for takeout at a Nigerian restaurant in Scarborough for the food column's 150th episode.

Suresh Doss: We're on Kingston road. We're at the edge of the city. If you drive a few minutes that way you'll be in Pickering. I think this is one of the most exciting roads to eat through in the GTA. You have dozens of plazas you can go to and eat foods from around the world, five or six places in one plaza. It's also not gentrifying as quickly as other parts of the city so there is a realness to it. You can go and meet different communities and try foods you will never see in the downtown core. 

Ismaila Alfa: But you brought me here for one specific place?

There are many plazas along Kingston Road that offers one-stop-spots for cuisines from all around the world. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Suresh Doss: This is a small takeout counter called The Suya Spot. I brought you here because we both have a connection to Nigeria. 

Ismaila Alfa: Suya is my thing and I can't wait to try it. I also want to know more about your experience in Nigeria. You lived there?

Suresh Doss: I was born in Sri Lanka but my dad got a job as a professor in Nigeria so we spent years there when I was young. Some of my earliest food memories are from that time living in Nigeria; whether it's going to market with my mom. I remember getting a sense of where the food on the table came from. 

WATCH | CBC's Metro Morning's food guide Suresh Doss introduces his 150th food spot:

CBC's Metro Morning's food guide Suresh Doss introduces his 150th food spot

1 year ago
Duration 4:54
CBC's Metro Morning's food guide Suresh Doss marks a milestone today, introducing us to his 150th food spot. Suresh and Metro Morning host Ismaila Alfa got a taste of some Nigerian classics at The Suya Spot in Scarborough.

Ismaila Alfa: It's amazing that that's your experience because I remember when I moved here and spoke with kids who had no idea where their food came from. I had to explain that knowing where your food comes from is a big thing there. But does this mean I can say that Nigeria built our food guide?

Suresh Doss: I think so!

Ismaila Alfa: So should we head inside?

The beef, chicken and goat Suya from The Suya Spot in Scarborough is served on Jollof rice and plantains. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Suresh Doss: Let's do it!

Suresh Doss: Ismaila, meet Mike and Taiwo. 

Ismaila Alfa: Great to meet you. This is my favourite street food. As soon as I hit the ground to visit family in Nigeria, it's straight to get suya. What was your inspiration for this place?

Taiwo Ajala: In 2002, I went down to Nigeria to visit and I remembered as a child growing up eating suya and that just drove me crazy - I thought we have to bring this to Canada.

Ismaila Alfa: Suresh, what were your early memories of suya?

Co-owner Mike Marfo mans the grill at The Suya Spot in Scarborough. His partner, Taiwo Ajala is at the helm of their North York location. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Suresh Doss: We would be stuck in traffic or something and my dad would see a spot and he would pull over and at that point we'd engage in this mission. We'd jump out of the car really fast, there would be cars lined up. You would see a variety of different suya operations, from a  small guy with what looks like a Hibachi grill to big grills. You order and, within seconds, you're holding a newspaper and the suya beef is placed on it. Within a flash it's over and you're left with this wonderful feeling. 

Taiwo Ajala: The one thing suya reminds me of too is, being the food that it is, it's used to settle a whole bunch of stuff. So if you are in a  fight with your wife and you're going home at night and want to make her happy, buy her suya. Or if you're meeting a girl for the first time, buy her suya. Everybody eats it together. 
Metro Morning food guide Suresh Doss can trace some of his fascination with food back to early years spent in Nigeria. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Ismaila Alfa: Jollof is joy, suya is the solution! Should we order? 

Suresh Doss: Yes, the menu here at The Suya Spot is very small. I say we try a little bit of everything. Let's get the Jollof rice and then we'll get a few different versions of suya - goat, beef, chicken. 

Mike Marfo: I also recommend you get the plantain because that will balance everything out - the sweet, the spicy, the savoury. 

Ismaila Alfa: This is so good. There is a nuttiness in there. There is pepper in there, and the beef is done so well.

Suresh Doss: Yes, suya for me is about texture. It's about that granular texture. It comes from that peanut flavour. That's what really does it for me. 
Suya is a popular street food in Nigeria, often served in newspapers by vendors at the sides of the road. (Suresh Doss/CBC)
The plantain offers a sweet balance to the savoury, spicy jollof and suya. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Ismaila Alfa: And with the jollof, you can taste the spice as soon as it touches your tongue. 

Suresh Doss: I love that each grain of rice stands on its own. 

Ismaila Alfa: They're separate. And this is Basmati rice they're using?

Suresh Doss: I've never had Basmati jollof until I came to Canada. It's usually the thicker, rounder grain of rice.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

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