REVIEW: El Shaddai, Merrylands


Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015.

African food is a bit of an anomaly in Sydney – a scattering of restaurants in the Western Suburbs without a “best African food in Sydney” Buzzfeed article to help you navigate them. Sydney’s growing African scene has meant the emergence of more specific restaurants. Offering more varied and regionally specific menus, instead of the all encompassing “African cuisine” representing the many dishes of the second biggest continent in the world. The main street in Merrylands has seen a few businesses open in the last few years, turning one end of Merrylands Rd into a haven for hair extensions and awesome food.

El Shaddai specialises in West African cuisine – you can tell this when you walk in due to the smell of ginger and hot spices, plus the Nigerian dancehall videos showing on the TV. It looks like a humble takeaway joint from the outside – and those looking for humble takeaway food will find cheap fish and chips on the menu – but the rest of the fare is proper sit down knife and fork stuff.

There’s an abundance of stewed meats, charcoal chicken and an intriguing dish called ‘kan kan kan’, but the pride of El Shaddai is their jollof rice with fried tilapia. Jollof rice is red with tomato, vaguely spicy and completely ignored when beneath a colossal fish, fried whole with crackly skin. On the side is a spicy onion relish that makes the white flesh of the tilapia taste even better. Also on the plate: a by-the-numbers garden salad topped with intricate swirls of pink mayo dressing. The perfect salad to cover with fish bones.


The unassuming neon sign out the front of El Shaddai is not one that you’d associate with a $30 fish dinner, but the kitchen delivers, making you promise to return to try the rest of the menu and find out whatever the hell kan kan kan is.

130 Merrylands Rd, Merrylands

Mon-Sat 12-8:45pm, Sun 2-8:45pm

How much
Mains from $15

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