In the first of a series of restaurant reviews, Howard Maximus portrays the culinary twists and social turns that can transpire at Twist, a restaurant which sits atop a bank in Buea.
In Buea, at the center of Molyko, a cozy restaurant stands atop a bank, so that one may be tempted to say it’s standing on top of money. In May 2015, this restaurant, Twist, was birthed just across the road from where the former Amazing Pharmacy used to be; birthed by a single parent and a good spirit… sort of like Jesus Christ.
Returning from the UK, Rindah; the young engineer-turned-restaurateur decided that feeding certain cosmopolitan eats to the Cameroon community would do major things in feeding his own yearnings for some culinary difference.
“It is pure passion,” he told me, scratching his head, and I am certain it was not embarrassment I saw strewn on his face when he said, “Yeah man, I have loved cooking since I can remember.” He did admit, though, that his Master’s degree in Systems Engineering had helped him be meticulous and exacting in his chef doings. And the Degree in Business Administration? “Well, Howard, this is a business,” he laughed.
When asked why Twist didn’t serve Cameroonian dishes, Rindah was honest: “It is so hard to be the best eru, or ndole, or achu cook around here. Just take a stroll around and see how many restaurants here serve that; how many mothers with donkey years of experience cook those dishes to sell.” He told me it only makes sense, business and otherwise, to introduce to the community something fresh. Fresh is refreshing. I agreed.
The drinks came. A petite girl in a teal tank top and black jeans brought them on a tray, smiling. We started off with some fruit juice (I, a glass of orange juice while JK had guava) because cocktails on an empty stomach are, in his voice, always a bad idea. Experience had taught him well.
But it was the beef burger that got me. Like its maker, it was a story on its own. Perhaps it was the colorful smears, from the red of ketchup to the whitish creaminess of mayonnaise, the crunchy sourness of tomato slices and the subtle sweetness of the freshly-baked buns.
He grumbled, J.K, about the unavailability of his favorite rice chipotle and the waiter tried to pacify him by saying some new dishes had been added to the menu.
“We have uhm, Pasta and minced meat,” she said. “Steak with white sauce, Poulet DG, Pizza, hamburger with fries, cupcakes with ice cream for dessert…”
“Fried rice and chicken,” JK interrupted, and then paused as if waiting for her to say that, too, was unavailable. She didn’t. She smiled instead and said, “Okay.” JK nodded, went to the balustrade to check himself out on the full-length mirror, and to call the girls. He would stand there for a while, even after the call, gazing. It was easy to get lost in the thrill of the sight. One could almost see the whole of Molyko from up here. He stood there, watching overdressed students stride past, watching taxis fly past, and I knew he had forgotten his complaints of “Why do we have to climb up all these stairs again?”
JK liked his fried rice. It came on a flat plate, in a mount pair like breasts. But he did not touch the vegetables on the side: the shreds of lettuce and cucumber and tomatoes. My drink was refreshing, the temperature just right —not too cold, but cold enough— but I wished it was tarter. JK gulped his before I could say “fruit juice.”
But it was the beef burger that got me. Like its maker, it was a story on its own. Perhaps it was the colorful smears, from the red of ketchup to the whitish creaminess of mayonnaise, the crunchy sourness of tomato slices and the subtle sweetness of the freshly-baked buns. It may have been the springy lettuces, so green, which looked like a garden and smelled of nothing; or the double-layered beef, ground to particular tenderness, seasoned to particular taste. It may as well have been the onions, sprinkled like confetti on the beef, or the Gouda cheese that sandwiched them; cheese so smooth it looked like a yellowy sheet of thick paper drooping from the sides. The fries were a definite yes; almost gold brown, with a crisp salty coating and an almost chalky headiness. I did not have the hot pepper dipping for fear that it may ruin the fries experience. It may have been all these that made me decide Twist served the best beef burger in Molyko; this, or the fact that it came on a rectangular plate, sound-tracked by Jidenna’s Classic Man.
Typically, when dusk falls here, the aura does not wait for the restaurant air to fold itself and leave. She overlaps unto it, entangles with it, so that a girl in her short, red dress is dancing to Jovi as a young couple on their second date laugh over their meal and learn to dissolve their awkwardness. J.K excuses himself, saying “Finally. The girls are here.” He had been complaining about their late-coming.
The fries were a definite yes; almost gold brown, with a crisp salty coating and an almost chalky headiness.
It was as if darkness came with its own ambiance, and the ability of this place to twist into its desired conformations, its ability to be what it wanted to be, was intriguing. It was indeed fascinating that a quiet eatery of yum treats and quiet music, and boys playing video games by day could transform, by night, into a place were a group of boys and girls would clink their glasses and roar in celebration; half a glass of Sex on the Beach sitting on the table between them, music blasting, young people in fancy casuals dancing, and smokes from shisha swirling and swirling. This ambiance, it consumes.
The girls were dancing, glasses of cocktail in hand, and I knew then we would come back here. Even if just so that JK could order a Slippery Nipple and complain about how it is not slippery enough. He doesn’t even know the girl in the red dress has been ogling him this whole time… Let’s meet here tomorrow and see how things unfold, shall we? Everyone, after all, loves a spicy story with a good plot twist.
PS: Any story sound-tracked by “Classic Man” wins.