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My Site: Day 83: Senegal

My Site

 
 

Day 83: Senegal

With Thanksgiving preparation in full swing, I breezed through the grocery shopping and now it’s time for a quick stop off at Ngoma for our second Man Bites World visit. We were at the “Pan-African” restaurant almost 50 days ago picking from their East African menu, but today I’m with Bex for lunch and some Senegalese samplings off the West African side, which is made easy by there really only being two Senegalese dishes: yassa poulet (lemon chicken) and chicken maafe (peanut sauce).



Bex knocks back some Jamaican ginger beer while we stretch out, enjoying the sunlight that’s creeping in off the street. Our maafe shows up all brownish-orange and saucy, with two chicken pieces, some veggies and a side of rice. “It tastes like satay,” says Bex, referring to the Thai (and other cuisines too) peanut marinade as I muse that it could use some Thai lime juice to cut into the heaviness a little. It’s a little bit of a dense dish, as you’d expect, and really needs the rice to disperse the flavor a little. I don’t dislike it, but if I was driving by with some friends and craving some chicken, I doubt I’d say “Ooh, let’s throw down on some maafe!” The yassa poulet, however, I enjoy a lot more. Call me a sucker for citrus, but the dark yellow sauce with long strips of cooked onions and whole green olives, sopped up with fufu (the starchy, white ball of root vegetable) is much more my style, as Bex correctly catches that there’s mustard in the sauce, which adds a nice layer to the dish. Unfortunately, the chicken itself in both dishes is not only overpowered by the sauce, but also seem separate from it— like pieces were cooked off individually and tossed into the dish later. Even with the aggressive flavors around them, biting into the actual bird meat causes an instant lack of flavor, which is a bit of a shame.

In the same way we’d get nervous seeing a Thai restaurant that also serves sushi, I wonder how good they can be at making this many dishes which span a pretty big continent. It’s a good introduction to the differences between regional flavors in Africa— and quite frankly there aren’t that many options in the city of Los Angeles at all. Just looking at the map of where I’ve been so far, Africa is by far the least explored (with Antarctica being obviously exempt from the conversation). I highly recommend everybody going to a place like this, even if it’s just for the experience. The food certainly isn’t bad— and while it may not be something you start bringing with you to work for lunch every day (although you might), it’s absolutely worth checking out. So next time you see an African restaurant serving something other than Ethiopian, Egyptian or Moroccan food— maybe it’s time you gave it a shot.

Ngoma
5358 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 934-1595

Food Breakdown: 1 non-alcoholic beverages, 2 entrées
Price: $32
Distance From My House: 5.6 miles

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Comments

  1. Kari · Dec 01, 05:16 AM

    I just found your blog today (day 85) and loves seeing that you’d had yassa and mafé recently. I grew up in Africa and lived in Senegal for two years. I still make yassa and mafé regularly. If you get a chance to try cebbu jen (also spelled thiebou dienne), I really recommend it. It’s a lot like paella.

    Bon app’!

  2. Noah · Dec 01, 08:09 AM

    Wow, Kari. That sounds awesome. I’d love to get my hands on some of that stuff.

  3. flutterbyblue · Dec 04, 02:41 PM

    Oh delish! I have a soft spot in my heart for good Senegalese food! Ceebu Jen is my absolute favorite – I’ve tried making it myself but it never tastes as good as it does in Senegal! (I can, however, make a mean yassa poulet!)