Dear Hubmart, you’re killing my appetite; Imagine you are very hungry, then you find an eatery; nice place, exciting interior and colorful display of different food items, what would you think? You’ve found just the right place to show the hunger who the boss is, right?
Spoiler alert: if that eatery is Hubmart’s Food Court, you are about to ruin your appetite.
I spend most of my time at Ikeja GRA, where Hubmart has one of its stores. When the store opened in 2017, I was one of those first timers who flooded it, particularly the food court. The food court became my go-to choice for two reasons; it is the closest eatery, with the cheapest price range. These have kept me hooked despite the tasteless meals served.
The worse of Hubmart’s dishes, in my opinion, is the Jollof Rice. I mean, who gets jollof rice wrong? It tastes like uncooked rice dipped in cheap tomato paste. The redness of it is enticing to the eyes but that is as far as you get with the recipe. Bland, uncooked heap of rice! I stopped eating it after repeated disappointments. My taste bud could take it no longer.
Sometimes, I think Hubmart is in only for the aesthetics of food and cares less about the most important, taste. When you walk into the GRA outlet, the bright colored chairs and paintings endear you. The artistic display of varieties of rice—Mexican rice, mushroom rice, Chinese rice—is always, always inviting. You would be conflicted by the number of options to choose from. However, a taste of these dishes and your tongue is greeted with heavy alcoholic preservatives. Whatever brand of preservative put in the food, it kills the taste of the popping green peas, sweet corns, carrots, and other condiments that could have contributed flavor to the mix.
The taste of the red beans is even more hurtful. I love beans and everything that comes with beans, except canned beans. I am always excited when I get to eat a well, cooked beans, just as I am deeply hurt when you make a mess of this special delicacy. Hubmart’s red beans is simply a hurriedly, mixed bowl of the cheapest species of beans, palm oil, and seasoning powder. It is the most basic and bland red beans I have ever eaten. There is always something wrong with it: undone beans, uncooked palm oil that feels like one is licking grease, over salt— everyone in the business of cooking knows too much salt in beans ruins the pot.
The plain, boiled rice is the most embarrassing dish from Hubmart. Embarrassing because that is the simplest way to cook rice. It requires no creativity or special skills. Simply wash the rice clean, boil and add salt to taste, but somehow, Hubmart manages to get it wrong. The rice never has salt and always seem to need two more minutes of steam to get it rightly done. I once asked why the rice is saltless, I was told it is intentional. If you would not add salt in a meal, at least let us know that the rice is ‘unsalted’.
However, despite how many time Hubmart has ruined my appetite, I keep going back, not just because of proximity and price but because of its customer relations. Many of the staffers are very cautious, like Emmanuel, guy who makes Sharwama, the two pharmacists—Titi and Pelumi—at the drug store. Also, Hubmart’s Sharwama is the best around. It’s egg sauce and yam is not a terrible dish either.