It is physically impossible to stop eating Uncle John’s coconut chin chin. Believe us, we’ve tried. And for once, it’s not just our general famished bear state of being that’s the issue. No, it’s because Uncle John’s bakery has long-standing professional bakers who have mastered the ultimate snack. Sweet, fried to perfection, a crispy little one-hander that can be consumed whilst walking, reading, texting, and living. But it’s not just their chin chin that causes us to just keep on eating and snacking and dipping our hand in for more, it’s everything this Ghanaian bakery produces.
A family-run business on West Green Road in Tottenham, they’ve been selling various forms of highly addictive traditional Ghanaian goods since 1995. Although their small grab-and-go bakery is still a simple and straightforward operation, they’ve come a long way since then. These days, their oh-so-soft and fluffy sweetbread is sold in Morrisons and at countless local supermarkets across the UK. To us, and to many Londoners, their signature butter-yellow packaging is now Uncle John’s yellow and provokes a near-Pavlovian response of desperately needing some bofrot. These small round buns are hypnotically chewy and our preferred method of eating them is by steadily picking off the sweet crispy outside, and then rolling the soft doughy innards into a squidgy little ball, preferably whilst being horizontal. We like to call this behaviour ‘self-care’ but feel free to go on your own journey of discovery to find your preferred bofrot method. After all, when they’re two for a pound, it’s easy to justify a whole lot of experimentation and practice.
Uncle John’s savoury options are just as affordable and just as satisfying. Their £2 ‘pies’ have a uniform thick shining crust and are filled with flavours that—gasp—you can really taste. Think tender mince, a herby medley of carrot, tomato, and white onion, rounded off with some solid spices. The heat isn’t full-throttle or overwhelming, there’s just enough to leave you with a warm tongue and what we like to think of as an Uncle John’s pie glow, no TikTok make-up tutorial required. Wash it all down with a fruity hit of Ghanaian Fanta and you’re set for a meal that will be just as good on your way to work at 9am as it is trudging your way home through the rain merrily whispering ‘capitalism, you freak’ at 6pm.
That’s the thing with this Tottenham classic, they’re not reinventing lunchtime go-tos or altering winning baking traditions, they’re upholding them. They’re doing what they’ve always done with the same comforting stability of that friend who supports your life choices even when you decide to paint your rented bathroom millennial pink. Uncle John’s are always there for you, and for the sake of our coconut chin chin addiction, we hope they always will be.
The human urge to push your whole face into an Uncle John’s loaf. Okay, fine, we admit that this might not be an entirely universal yearning but it’s just so soft and so fluffy. The Uncle John’s piece de resistance, you’ll always see people queuing up for another loaf, or several, and more power to them. We’re a nation of die-hard bread lovers and this is one of the best.
Coconut Chin Chin
A perfect example of Uncle John’s recipe for success; fried, crunchy, with just enough coconut to anaesthetize your London blues. The Pringles slogan once you pop you just can’t stop was actually written about these, pass it on.
Baked coconut dough biscuits that are served in huge haphazard slabs. Who needs artful presentation when you can eat this much sugar and margarine for £1.50?
Not to sound like a Bake Off contestant but boy oh boy, the tear on these. Although they might deceptively look like any old bun, they’ve got a subtle sweet flavour that means they’re genuinely lovely eaten sans topping or filling.
Everything we love about the bofrot combined with everything we love about consuming large quantities of sugar. The soft bready middle means that you can accidentally eat ten of these and experience one of the most tremendous sugar crashes of your life. Don’t worry, it’ll be worth it.
There is something about the shine of Uncle John’s pies that makes us feel alive. We’ve eaten their pies in bed, on the tube (not remotely sorry), and because we are powerless in the face of a good crust, right before a trip to the dentist. He understood. He too is an Uncle John’s local. The meat pie is the best of the lot and something about the carrots and herby mince gives it a really hearty quality that you just can’t beat.
Salty with the same lovely crust. A great shout if you’re in the mood for something a little lighter but the meat pie has our hearts.