An unprepossessing exterior tucked away at the corner of Clark and Roscoe, you can almost miss it if you arent looking for it. It is hard to find some truly unique cuisine after a while, but this was a real surprise.
My first impression was not very favorable. The interior is quite ill-lit and the seating was a little too closely packed. But the staff are very friendly and helpful with making decisions. The menu, however, changed my first impression. They had a whole slew of exotic items on it : fried plantains, yams and even fufu (now you get the Poisonwood Bible connection!) just to name a few.
We ordered fried yams for appetizers and I ordered PH(fruity vodka), but N was brave enough to try the Palm wine. Unfortunately the latter had a little too much of vodka mixed in it, we couldnt really taste the palm wine, but mine was awesome. The yams came with a fantastic red sauce that was the exact right level of spicy. We were able to identify garlic and green chillies in it for sure. Dont know what else it had, but it was a perfect blend. Next for entree I had bean casserole with fried plantain. I know, I know… but N made up for it with Egusi and Efo. Which is pounded yam and watermelon seeds cooked with spinach and spices! See what I mean when I say exotic?
The bean casserole, is not cheesy. It is black-eyed peas and pinto cooked in tomato sauce. It is more dry, well cooked than watery-stew type. If you like chundal, this is your dish! But the highlight, in exotic scale, was the pounded yam. It is white, odorless and tasteless and has more of a well kneaded dough consistency. (Very much like Kingsolver’s fufu!) The Egusi that it came with was the saving grace.It was spicy, tangy and had a little of crunch to it too! And I know it doesnt seem like it, but the two of them go together and it turned out to be a really tasty dish!
The entire experience was refreshingly pleasant. We got to eat something we have never tasted and managed to stay within our tight budget. So if you are tired of the same old, thai-chinese-mexican-ethiopian routine (or even if you are not), try this out. A note of warning though, they take a while to get your food to the table. However, they do warn you of it even in the menu!