What’s a bunny chow? How about kitfo and fufu? Those are customarily 3 of a signatures for a contingent of conflicting cuisines from a hulk continent of Africa. And, for a continent of a immeasurable distance and towering array of singular cultures, it’s extraordinary how tiny of an impact a cuisines have had on a Bay Area. Outside of Moroccan restaurants and Ethiopian ones, a Bay Area is singular to a handful of restaurants representing countries from South Africa to Tunisia to Nigeria.
That’s too bad for extraordinary internal diners. But, there are sparkling opportunities to learn about several cuisines with a tiny bit of research. As we schooled eating a approach around a continent by exploring Africa’s cuisines around a Bay Area, there are many gems to be found, possibly it’s a ideally spiced square of goat or a destination-worthy Moroccan pastry. Join us for a debate around 10 conflicting specific African cuisine and African-inspired restaurants.
Amawele’s South African Kitchen
There is no Chenin Blanc or Pinotage during a city’s sole South African food kiosk. You’ll have to conduct to a booze store for a country’s wines, that are distant improved famous in a U.S. than South African cuisine.
Thanks to amaweles (a Zulu word for twins), Pam and Wendy Michaelson, San Francisco has one mark for training about this opposite nation that is rather matching to California climate-wise nonetheless roughly accurately half a universe divided from here.
The matching twin sisters grew adult in Durbin, South Africa’s third-largest critical city (think Chicago with Los Angeles’ location). It’s a fun, easy-going beach vibe that’s also a hulk city on a Indian Ocean. It’s also utterly critical for a dining scene, reflecting a farrago of a country. South Africa’s inland race and immigrants from centuries of being a cluster for European empires have led to a decidedly heterogeneous cuisine. On a plate, influences come from England, a Netherlands, Malaysia, India, Portugal and a internal African history.
Pam and Wendy primarily lived in a country’s collateral and largest city, Johannesburg, and attempted to make it as veteran singers, while operative in a paltry universe of finance. One career didn’t utterly vessel out and a other wasn’t fulfilling. So, they motionless to try roving around a U.S. as childcare providers. The mutual adore of cooking led them to their tide griddle home, Amawele’s South African Kitchen, in San Francisco, curiously located in a FiDi’s Rincon Center (best famous as a home of Yank Sing). Fast-casual tends to be some-more of a niche for burritos, sandwiches, salads and a like — not formidable curries and problematic names like bunny chow.
If you’re after a Instagram likes, South Africa’s quick food favorite, bunny chow, is obligatory. It’s not colorful nonetheless it’s flattering surpassing visually. There are no rabbits concerned — rather a deeply nuanced and delicately spiced curry full of proposal beef hunks in a hollowed out bread bowl. SF diners, we know what you’re meditative nonetheless this bread is some-more like a thick, feathery white fritter than robust sourdough à la Fisherman’s Wharf clam chowder in sourdough bowls. Except here, a curry doesn’t customarily stay in a bread bowl. It overflows stuffing a whole container. Talk about a image not meant for take-out nonetheless has to be served to-go. Eat with caution.
Also on a quick food-drunk food side of South African cuisine and a renouned object during Amawele’s is frikadella, a Dutch-style meatball that customarily is served on slimy fries nonetheless here a dual are served together as a hang (hello, fast-casual!). It’s a South African chronicle of Primanti Brothers, a everything-in-one sandwich behemoth from Pittsburgh (try it in SF during Giordano’s Bros. in a Mission).
Along with a bunny chow, peri peri duck is a contingency during Amawele’s, where a salsa done in-house (also sole by a bottle) boasts a sharp, splendid chile flog that browns nonetheless doesn’t harm when slathered on duck and served paleo-style on vegetables. It’s too bad a duck breast is dry nonetheless customarily concentration on a sauce.
Also on trend, like a paleo territory of a menu, quinoa can reinstate a Cape Malay spiced rice image with proteins of your choice on top. It works utterly good with honeyed potatoes and a horde of non-seasonal vegetables (carrots, broccoli) that ambience excellent nonetheless are an uninspiring diet-friendly ensemble. Paleo or quinoa bowl, both are unequivocally wise for a weekday lunch that will energy we into a afternoon, not import we down during a 3 PM meeting. But, honestly, if you’re exploring South African cuisine, get a bunny chow. Leave a paleo things for later.
Once you’re by your hulk image (the bunny food can simply offer two), dawdle with a housemade rooibos tea on a seating pillow by Rincon Center’s fountain and consider how pacific this is compared to a insane rush for low sum a few stairs divided during Yank Sing. Eating bunny food gazing during a inverted fountain is one of those quirky “this can customarily occur here” moments that can liven adult any slight weekday lunch hour.
Amawele’s South African Kitchen
101 Spear St.
San Francisco, CA 94105 [Map]
Ph: (415) 536-5900
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10:30am-2:30pm; Closed Saturday and Sunday
Facebook: Amawele’s South African Kitchen
Price Range: $ ($8-$10 per diner)
Yelp: Amawele’s South African Kitchen
There is no seating, no park circuitously to cruise during and undiluted parking in a slight parking lot where a months-old Somali food trailer, Safari Kitchen, resides in. It’s decidedly no-frills and feels like Austin, Texas both with a fact that it’s a niche cuisine food trailer and a resounding summer feverishness on one visit. Continuing a no-frills agenda, a menu doesn’t yield many choice either. You’ll have a bed of rice surfaced with beef, chicken, beef and chicken, or vegetables. So, we improved like rice.
Those informed with The Halal Guys will notice this Somali tack isn’t separate (there is even amiable white salsa and a prohibited red salsa to fist on) nonetheless miles higher in all from a new New York transplant serve to SF — from a peculiarity of beef to a complicated palm in seasoning to a slickness of a rice. A horde of spices (“all starting with “C” as a prepare in a Safari Kitchen trailer joked) including coriander, cumin, cinnamon and cardamom dig each section of duck and beef, along with a bottom of buttery, proud basmati rice. Imagine a season form of griddle with a ancillary member of tandoori. Combined it’s smoky, sweet, tainted and has a spirit of umami that keeps punch after punch of beef and rice seem distant some-more engaging than it sounds like. Sure, it’s adequate food for dual inspired eaters nonetheless who can protest about leftovers?
You’ll spin out a image with samusas, that are accurately like a better-known samosas in several other cultures around Africa, a Middle East and Asia. The flaky phyllo triangles filled with beautifully spiced, luscious belligerent beef. Also try a honeyed chronicle with cherry preserves that competence be reduction normal nonetheless will contest with any fruit safety palm cake you’ve encountered before. The griddle is ideal in both versions with not a pinch of douse anywhere. It’s easy to fill adult on these alone. Don’t do it.
At customarily a few months old, Safari Kitchen is still in a childish theatre and accessible a initial educational year with a circuitously college students (it’s right between Downtown and San Jose State). Co-owners Amin Munye and Guled Yousef met as undergraduate students during Arizona State University and both finished adult in a Bay Area thereafter — Guled in tech and Amin as a coiffeur during The Barbers Inc. The dual motionless to give entrepreneurship a try nonetheless creatively had no suspicion what form of business to do. Munye is creatively from Somalia and changed to a US when he was 14. His comparison sister worked for a US embassy in Somalia and was given a choice to pierce to a US for health reasons. A few years later, Amin and his family were means to join her in a US where they staid in a South Bay. After all sorts of business devise brainstorms, a dual budding entrepreneurs thought, “Why not do a food lorry with a few dishes from Somalia served?” The Safari Kitchen afterwards was innate and a wish is to eventually have a some-more estimable menu and sit-down knowledge during a section and trebuchet restaurant.
This is unequivocally not your normal food trailer (or lorry or mount or businessman or what not). The trademark of a zebra done of cooking utensils is even flattering startling, customarily like a adore of a beef and apt palm with a sideboard of spices. Thinking about a rice plates, we’re prepared for a successive Somali lunch.
17 S 8th St.
San Jose, CA 95112 [Map]
Ph: (408) 367-9416
Hours: Tue-Sat, 11am-6pm; Closed Sunday and Monday
Facebook: Safari Kitchen
Price Range: $ ($8-$10 per diner)
Yelp: Safari Kitchen
The sit-down griddle Jubba is Safari Kitchen’s contrast, on a conflicting side of a sprawling city of San Jose and braggadocio a same no-frills vibe nonetheless there are chairs, tables and atmosphere conditioning. Other than a aforementioned heavily spiced meat-on- basmati rice plates, arguably a dual many distinguished dishes of Somali cooking are a platter of likewise piquancy burnished goat and a honeyed and immature stir-fry of sorts called kay kay. Both can be found during nine-year aged Jubba, located in a mostly non-commercial residential community, right by a bustling Santa Teresa VTA light rail station. In that kay kay, clearly dual pounds beef cubes (called beef suqaar) with no gristle (often a stir-fry’s downfall) gets tossed with chapatti (like flatbread shreds), bananas, onions, about a bruise of easily malleable broccoli and snap pears, and an impassioned volume of sesame oil that will unequivocally leave we wanting copiousness of H2O from a salt rush. Ultimately, it’s a banana that ends adult as a over-arching cooking agent. Beef suqaar, flatbread and banana? Who knew it could be a hit?
For a successive specialty, goat comes as bone-in hunks, trimming from dry and weak to flare tender. The beef itself doesn’t have a barnyard smile that can make a Mexican birria specialist’s goat ambience so polarizing and also so special. Jubba’s goat tastes of indifferent beef and a berbere piquancy brew doesn’t cloak a beef with a same unashamed punch as during Safari Kitchen.
The categorical mode of eating during Jubba appears to be a chapatti wraps. It’s radically a Somali burrito in distance and customarily swaps out rice, beans and guacamole for onions and peppers fasten tilapia, beef or chicken. The customarily reason to opt for this over a other platters is apportionment size. Yes, they’re some-more than adequate for one nonetheless a platters are unequivocally for 2-3 people (a take for $12-13). The Sports Plate gets dual people dual proteins on one tire-sized image with basmati rice or spaghetti for $26 and seems ideally geared to diners looking some-more for leftovers than anything else. Like with Ethiopia’s cuisine mostly carrying Italian components from a colonial history, a same is a box for Somalia. Spaghetti seems like a bizarre compare for skilfully spiced goat nonetheless it’s a diet tack — and we positively saw several diners digging into their raise of spaghetti with beef suqaar. Yes, this is not your standard meatballs and marinara.
Our opinion for platter accompaniment goes to a injera bread that is many thicker and a reduction sharp than many versions during Bay Area Ethiopian restaurants (like a Italian influence, here’s another curtsy to a similarities of Ethiopian and Somali dining). But, a injera does have a same duty (use your hands!) here as during any Ethiopian restaurant. Unlike in Ethiopia, though, a food is not served on a injera itself. Since many Somalian dishes aren’t curry or salsa formed like in Ethiopia, you’ll finish adult regulating a flare and blade and slice off some injera as a ambience cleanser.
No matter what entrée lies ahead, start with a samusa, boiled to soundness with no spirit of douse and a stuffing of belligerent beef and spices that come acrobatics out dramatically after your initial bite. Mandasi, a honeyed potato fritter that tastes and looks like a flattened yam beignet, has flattering tiny to suggest for it in a shade of a samosa. It’s a submissive chronicle of boiled brew if that’s a indispensable partial of your meal. For both, make certain to asperse a pastries in a middle prohibited immature piquancy seasoning that come on a side.
There’s a lot to adore about this conflicting of adorned family-run operation, from a food to a fact that ambience is singular to a few woven objects on a wall, a poster of Somali crops and fruits and a TV on CNN by a entrance. It’s not an elaborate set-up nonetheless has a lot of heart and is clearly a internal favorite with a African community. Diners tide in incidentally to order, afterwards savor, a giveaway pour-yourself honeyed tea that comes out blazing prohibited (use dual espresso-sized paper cups!) and packs some-more sugarine than a standard honeyed tea on a porch in Mississippi. Somehow, a over a tip quirky benevolence seems to ambience customarily right when eating some kay kay in this distant dilemma of San Jose.
5330 Terner Way
San Jose, CA 95136 [Map]
Ph: (408) 440-1504
Hours: Daily, 11am-9:30pm; Closed Wednesdays
Facebook: Jubba Somali Restaurant
Price Range: $S ($13-$15 per diner)
Yelp: Jubba Restaurant
It was an unlucky start when we arrived during Miliki one new weekday, wondering if a place was even open. There were no diners eating lunch. The menu outward customarily says that American diner-style food is served. Yet, somehow there has to be some of a Nigerian food that we ventured to Oakland’s Laurel District (it’s a widen of MacArthur Blvd. by 580, southeast of Downtown) for, right? Noticing us stalling outside, a friendly waitress and mom of a co-owner, Enny Aregbe, came outward to contend that customarily African food was accessible during that time.
You can clarity a relief.
It turns out that a American food is served in a morning when prepare Kirk Roberts runs a kitchen. Roberts formerly owned Full House Cafe successive doorway nonetheless it sealed and became a ultra renouned Sequoia Diner underneath new owners. Now for dual years, Roberts has run radically a permanent breakfast pop-up during Miliki (word of advice: for Nigerian food, come after 1pm to be certain it’s being served). So, as tantalizing as biscuits and gravy and bacon crush sound, we wanted fufu. And we got copiousness of it.
Nigeria is a nation of 186 million people, creation it a largest nation on a continent and over twice a distance of second place Ethiopia. The country’s largest city, Lagos, is one of a fastest flourishing cities in a world, nonetheless according to a investigate by a Financial Times, scarcely 2/3 of a city lives in slums. It’s a city that represents a informative and mercantile possibilities of a whole nation on a western seashore of Africa — and a struggles.
For whatever reason, be it miss of tourists visiting and longing a food or tough to find ingredients, Nigerian cuisine hasn’t done a large jump to a U.S., and positively a Bay Area, like Moroccan and Ethiopian cuisines. But as Miliki will learn you, it’s an endless cuisine full of outrageous season like you’d pattern from a nation of Nigeria’s size.
The core of a menu is formed on robust entrées that are customizable in a brew and compare character (just wait for a Nigerian fast-casual concept, opening shortly to a FiDi!). Diners select an okele (starch), image and meat. It’s treacherous given a menu says that 3 meats can be served per stew, nonetheless we customarily were given a choice of one. One does indeed seem like plenty.
Goat served on a bone in a rustic, corpulent tomato and spinach image with dejected egusi (a melon seed), had a pleasing gamey season nonetheless lurked on a dry side texture-wise. It indispensable to wash in a stew, perfumed in a earthy-herbal form like a solemnly done marinara salsa with egusi looking and even tasting a bit like we sum some Parmesan.
Our selected okele for this was fufu, radically a raise of dejected yams that has a over-emotional coherence of mochi and, as a dining messenger rightly forked out, tastes matching to Betty Crocker’s present dejected potatoes. Fufu is flattering tedious stuff, nonetheless required for ripping and grabbing that goat beef (forks are disheartened nonetheless offered). It’s also a best famous Nigerian diet staple, seen during many each image everywhere in a country, like baguettes in France.
The egusi was a pointer of rewarding flavors to come. Dish after image presented clever nonetheless forceful spicing. Even a clearly prosaic dip of rice on a multiple platter scored with tomato, peppers and onions alongside flaky tilapia. That rice, by a way, is jollof rice — one of a pivotal tools of Nigeria’s cuisine and unequivocally matching to what is called unwashed rice in New Orleans. Every member rises a other — a rice, fish and contingent of smoky, slow-cooked beans, proposal stewed greens, and honeyed boiled plantains. It’s a must-order during Miliki.
When it comes to spice, Miliki’s peppers soup had a sharp, pointy character of piquancy pleasantness of a noisy alligator pepper. Think of charcoal and Tabasco salsa combined. It’s weird. It’s not great. It’s not bad. The gas was too flowing to mount adult to tough beef and proposal tripe (fish is substantially a approach to go). Try it once nonetheless chances are it won’t be a image we come behind again and again for. But we never know if we don’t try…
Black eyed pea fritters called akara, suya (beef skewers) and sweet, boiled balls of dough, reasonably called “puff puff,” are a categorical appetizers. They seem some-more like hunger-satiating mangle munchies to accompany a roughly honeyed non-alcoholic Malta Guinness splash from Nigeria or one of a several non-craft splash bottles accessible before streamer towards a stews and starches.
Decor isn’t Miliki’s strength with a faded, ragged demeanour to a booths and tables, nonetheless some art on a walls and a front bar creates thing demeanour like they get flattering sparkling during some point. That sparkling time would be Friday nights when a DJ takes over and Miliki offers a fun dusk of song and food “to keep a village together” as Enny told us. That’s critical right now meaningful a many issues confronting Oakland, from gentrification to crime. Enny’s son Bayo started a griddle roughly 8 years ago with his crony Ishmael Okunade and, together, 3 have helped drive a griddle by some tough times.
Just a year ago, Miliki roughly was partial of that fast gentrification when a landlord looked to reinstate it with a qualification splash garden. Just demeanour during a brunch lines during Sequoia Diner, a stirring opening of 4505 Meats in a retro Glenn’s Hot Dog plcae and a construction right outward of Miliki on MacArthur — a area is changing and it’s not tough to see a gentrification coming, for improved or for worse. Luckily, we still have Miliki. And there’s copiousness of fufu and peppers soup to representation given of that.
3725 MacArthur Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94619 [Map]
Ph: (510) 531-6970
Hours: Tue-Sun 8am- 8:30pm nonetheless Nigerian food starts roughly around noon; Closed Monday
Facebook: Miliki Restaurant
Price Range: $$ ($11-$15 per diner)
Tadu Ethiopian Kitchen
Outside of a couscous and tagines of Morocco, Ethiopia’s community injera-based platters and clever cups of coffee from a country’s eminent beans is a best-known African cuisine in a U.S. Washington D.C. and Los Angeles have their possess Little Ethiopia enclaves where zealous diners revisit a conflicting Ethiopian spots and everybody has their sold favorite amidst unbending foe like we speak about low sum in a Richmond or Mission burritos. It’s not utterly a same in San Francisco. Oakland and Berkeley are home to some illusory Ethiopian destinations as a guide will uncover you. The city has a handful of Ethiopian restaurants nonetheless for a many part, diners conduct opposite a Bay for their kitfo fix.
Except, during a two-and-a-half-year aged Tadu, named for a owner’s grandmother and honoring her lifetime of courtesy and love. Owner Elias Shawel, a former limousine driver, non-stop a griddle given he couldn’t find a good place for kitfo. He unequivocally solved that issue.
Tadu is during a dilemma of a Tenderloin now. When it opened, Tadu was truly in a thick of it — a classical instance of a fast changes going on around this sold San Francisco neighborhood. Inside a restaurant, you’ll find orange splashed walls with Ethiopian art and maps, a semi-open kitchen and a executive register where diners come and go each few mins picking adult to-go orders — a bizarre thing given this doesn’t seem like food that can transport well. Well, there is a kitfo sandwich. But you’re not opening to Tadu for a sandwich, are you? No, you’re here for a grand injera platters.
You can feel a childlike rashness when one of a spin platters arrives à la a pizza during a core of a table. This is a image for everyone, from a solo caf� to a celebration of six. Be it lunch or dinner, a whole image sits on injera done in Oakland and driven behind to Tadu daily. Injera covers a whole platter and additional rolled adult injera is served on a side functioning as fork, knife, and ladle — heck, it competence be a napkin and a H2O potion too if you’re unequivocally going for it. Bitter as a grapefruit, injera begs to be lonesome in other flavors, instead of being consumed on a own. Remember, it’s a utensil. There are no off tastes nonetheless we won’t crave injera like a Josey Baker bread or Tartine’s nation loaf.
Ethiopian cuisine is utterly good for vegetarian and vegan diners given a standout image is a vegetarian sampler. The injera is lonesome by several spreads, dips and wots (stew-like curries. Azifa, a credentials of lentils perfumed with mustard seeds and jalapeño, wins big, while a misir wot (a lentil salsa with berbere spices) provides a good sip of feverishness nonetheless isn’t many some-more than a raise of lentils. Buticha, dejected chickpeas, comes on a lettuce salad and could be a excellent hummus during a party. The sautéed collard greens, famous as gomen, are endurable nonetheless distant improved when systematic with lamb given some of a meat’s juices massage off. When large rolls of injera have been ripped, dunked and eaten, it’s a shiro wot (a dim purée of chickpeas, ginger, and tomatoes) and a lovely alicha tikil gomen (precisely cut, turmeric-stained potatoes and carrots with uninformed cabbage) that emerge as winners.
Kitfo is a other iconic image you’ll see on a infancy of tables during any Ethiopian restaurants. It’s radically ultra buttery belligerent beef, best systematic tender like how it’d be consumed in Ethiopia. That being said, many diners demur and opt for it middle singular to middle nonetheless sadly a gamey despondency and balmy hardness leaves. It becomes greasy hamburger meat. You have a choice to liven things adult with jalapeño and cheese. Skip a cheese (there’s adequate butter already) nonetheless do go for a piquancy given belligerent beef on a possess has tiny taste.
Cubes of chicken, lamb and beef famous as “tibs” are a other categorical image to know, beautifully seasoned with berbere spices and jalapenos. Diners can start with sambussas, filled with belligerent beef or lentils, but, trust us, we won’t need some-more than what comes on a injera. Just sip some of a thick and kind of tasteless telba (a flax seed and sugarine drink) or fist some some-more injera, and you’ll be some-more than content.
Tadu Ethiopian Kitchen
484 Ellis St.
San Francisco, CA 94102 [Map]
Ph: (415) 409-6649
Hours: Daily 11:30am-9pm
Facebook: Tadu Ethiopian Kitchen
Price Range: $$ ($11-$15 per diner)
Yelp: Tadu Ethiopian Kitchen
On a menu of a aforementioned Miliki, suya is a normal beef skewer coated in a massage of innumerable spices, chilies and dejected peanuts. At Uptown Oakland’s African and Caribbean fast-casual spot, Suya, “suya” is referred to as a West African piquancy rub. Will a genuine suya greatfully mount up? The answer is: both. Suya is a tenure for a piquancy and that piquancy on grilled skewers of meat. In a box of Suya a griddle suya is a piquancy rub.
Now that we’ve answered this question, here come a few more. Remember, this is a fast-casual universe where customization is key. So a doubt isn’t customarily that protein nonetheless also that spice: Jamaican jerk or suya?
For a purposes, it was all about a suya and it truly is a prominence on beef, chicken, prawns, vegetables or tilapia (only suya spicing is authorised on a beef). The suya is an earthy, rather honeyed massage that solemnly grows in feverishness to a indicate where a potion of H2O is indispensable nonetheless there’s no distracted glow to put out. In contrast, a jerk seasoning on a duck was tame.
We got forward of ourselves. Protein and piquancy preference are step three. Step one for this fast-casual menu is process of eating: skewers, entrée salad or wrap? Most diners seem to hang to wraps given if there’s one thing we’ve schooled from a fast-casual world, it’s that SF diners adore anything in a hang (see: Souvla, Sushirrito). Unfortunately, ideally suya-spiced beef was mislaid amidst a stuffing of 95% lettuce brew and sparse tender mushrooms in a wrap. The suya piquancy worked about as good on easily grilled prawns, while a jerk seasoning was surprisingly tame in contrariety on chicken. I’d drive we towards a skewers with dual sides nonetheless a grilled corn was tears from dry kernels and a tear-jerking grilled plantain would have been a calamity of anyone who’s found a banana mislaid in their trek a week later. Solution: opt for a salad given a sides are lacking and wraps need some tweaking.
Suya is a intelligent suspicion and one that was forward of a time when husband-and-wife group Seun and Zain Oke (he’s from Nigeria, she’s from Oakland and attended Cal) saw a overlie of Caribbean and African cooking and motionless together to package it as a student-friendly fast-casual concept. The space is unclothed other than a singular West African portrayal nonetheless a vibe isn’t subdued. Bob Marley is on a stereo, after all. Suya is an engaging judgment and one that is clearly a strike with East Bay diners. The strange plcae is in Berkeley nearby a Cal campus. This second one was rather swarming on one new weekday lunch hour with some groups adhering around to eat some jerk duck and hide in a Friday Corona treat, while others hustled behind to Pandora and a other companies in this fast flourishing tech hub. The concept’s recognition in this area recently led to a opening of a third Suya, customarily a few blocks divided in a heart of downtown Oakland.
Strangely, for a fast-casual spot, conveniences and sum are lacking. Diners have to ask for water, silverware or napkins. The Jamaican ginger splash tastes like true sugarine syrup, lacking any of a preferred pointy ginger bite. But, hey don’t worry, customarily concentration on a suya beef skewers and each tiny thing will be alright.
Suya African-Caribbean Grill
408 22nd St.
Oakland, CA 94102 [Map]
Ph: (510) 465-7892
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm, 5pm-8pm; Sat 12pm-5pm
Facebook: Suya African Caribbean Grill
Price Range: $ ($8-$10 per diner)
Yelp: Suya African-Caribbean Grill
There’s no lacking ambience during this Downtown Oakland Senegalese restaurant. Everywhere we demeanour is something — a car, colorful posters, even roof art installations that demeanour like clouds. Festive as an verb for a atmosphere is putting it lightly. You’re going to have a good time. It’s a conflicting form of good time than during a comparison kin in SF’s Mission District, where a strange Bissap Baobab is improved famous for dancing and late night drinks. You can get that weekends in Oakland, too, nonetheless lunch is customarily served in Oakland.
You can still get a hibiscus margarita and other fruit-spiked cocktails in a daytime or a some-more lunch-friendly uninformed ginger and pineapple extract or kale, ginger, apple and carrot smoothie. In Oakland, it’s entirely about a Senegalese cuisine. The Senegalese cuisine in turn, is unequivocally about a holy threesome of salsas (different than a holy threesome of mixture in New Orleans cooking).
Mafe is a peanut image that tastes some-more of unsalted bulb butter than what you’re substantially used to from a honeyed tawny jar of Jif. It coats cubes of lamb ideally nonetheless is rather on a ungainly greasy side.
Yassa is for a mustard fans in a house, where a sugarine mustard-like bottom gets a required detonate of astringency from lemon and works good cloaking a flaky filet of tilapia.
Most noisy is a indistinguishable sharp coconut curry that has such a unaffected coconut-forward taste, we won’t notice what protein it’s with. If, like this writer, we swear by coconut, this is a salsa for you. However, any subtleties of tilapia underneath it will be totally lost, so try to have it cloak a rice and not a protein.
The concentration on being a sauce-based cuisine is mostly from a French colonial change on Senegal, one of a few Francophone countries in Africa. It’s not a approach tube of Escoffier to Senegal nonetheless diners positively can see and ambience a connection. These are flavor-packed salsas that aren’t strict and aren’t overly complicated on a stomach, like contend a buttery béarnaise. Some additional piquancy could be acquire and that’s where a on-point peppers seasoning comes in accessible adding customarily a right jar when you’re prepared (don’t supplement too many and splash ginger extract during a same time!). It’s a fun form of cooking and good when things are kicked off with a Créole image of sharp and jasmine rice stuffing a halved avocado or a clean, correct “tropical” salad of greens and citrus slices. That salad joins a 3 salsa preparations for a take of a lunch understanding using $12 to $13 and can feed two. That lunch platter also comes with ideally boiled plantains and rice (the couscous one time was clearly undercooked, so equivocate it). It’s no tip since Oakland bureau workers try to hide here for a vacation during lunch that will fill them adult nonetheless not import them down and feel like they’re 3,000 miles from a cubicle.
The strange Bissap Baobab customarily entered a third decade in business, an perpetuity in griddle years, generally after a glow that sealed it a few years ago and led a owners to find out a Oakland location. The SF one is behind and bustling as ever. So, both sides of a Bay can count on good times and enjoyable, arguable Senegalese food during Bissap Baobab. It’s time for another spin of hibiscus margaritas.
381 15th St.
Oakland, CA 94612 [Map]
Ph: (510) 817-4722
Hours: Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2:30pm; Wed-Sat, 5:30pm-9:30pm
Facebook: Bissap Baobab Oakland
Price Range: $$ ($15-$18 per diner)
Yelp: Bissap Baobab Oakland
Radio Africa Kitchen
Mourad Lahlou and Eskender Aseged are a dual Bay Area chefs from African nations who have reached a turn of being domicile names for many Bay Area diners. What’s engaging is how conjunction is cooking anything traditional. Lahlou did prepare normal Moroccan with Californian influences during Aziza and now his namesake FiDi restaurant, Mourad, is unequivocally a different as a contemporary Californian griddle with Moroccan elements.
While Mourad is a intemperate dining room with mountainous ceilings and chandeliers on a belligerent turn of a fantastic medieval skyscraper on New Montgomery Street that also houses Yelp’s headquarters, Aseged is sensitively cooking in a distant southeast dilemma of a city. His restaurant, Radio Africa, non-stop along Third Street in a Bayview in 2012 and a approaching transformation of gentrification to a area following a lead hasn’t unequivocally happened as approaching — yet, during least.
Inside Radio Africa, you’ll find an contentment of flora and fauna, cactus, community tables, and plenty healthy light. It feels like you’re eating in a greenhouse, a contrariety to a mostly raging vibe outward a restaurant. That relaxed, customarily vibe extends to Aseged’s plates.
The dishes are customarily and elementary with unequivocally simple embellishments in a conform that Whole Foods and meal-kit deliveries are perplexing to foster (think Healthyish and holistic diets). There competence be an African piquancy here and there, maybe a housemade chermoula seasoning on one dish. Let’s be honest, though, it’s mostly yoga cuisine and that’s not a bad thing when we feel good and a food isn’t dull.
Wild salmon comes simply with quinoa and baked spinach is a image that could greatfully both James Beard (perfectly baked square of fish and equally ideal quinoa) and Weight Watchers. An arugula salad with roasted beets had a few warn bursts of early summer tomatoes, sparse goat cheese and a pesto salsa that tied all together though apropos uncomfortably oily. It’s zero trailblazing nonetheless also not customarily #anotherbeetsandgoatcheesesalad.
A duck jambalaya has unequivocally tiny to do with a sharp tomato-based rice image of New Orleans. The salsa is a easily spiced pepper-base one churned with wilted kale and prolonged pellet rice. There’s no shrimp. It’s customarily bite-size skinless duck pieces that are one nick from being dry nonetheless saved by a good stoical other tools on a plate. It’s not a ideal dish. It’s satisfying, however. It’s also a image that creates we consider about jambalaya being served as a unruly good times touristy image on Bourbon Street nonetheless has critical roots in a Low Country slaves and reaching serve behind to Africa pre-slave trade centuries ago.
What’s some-more critical to note about Radio Africa than a food is a absolute story of Aseged himself. The prepare hails from Ethiopia and transient to Sudan before immigrating to a U.S. His large mangle came as a prepare in a kitchen of Square One, Joyce Goldstein’s griddle that for many of a 80s and 90s was one of a post-Chez Panisse second call of Californian cuisine trailblazers with a likes of Boulevard, Stars and Zuni Cafe. Aseged worked front and behind of a residence elsewhere during a likes of Boulevard and Campton Place before fulfilling his Radio Africa dream as one of a pivotal early pop-ups in SF around a same time a likes of Mr. Pollo and Lazy Bear started. Now 5 years in, it’s transparent a griddle is a centerpiece of a area judging from everybody who stopped in for lunch and a (sweetened customarily right) hibiscus lemonade.
Aseged even gives a area shoutout on a splash front with a 3rd St. Pale Ale from Bayview’s year-old Laughing Monk Brewing, a area visitor that followed Radio Africa’s lead and is saying success during a daub room. See, Radio Africa is many some-more than customarily an beguiling lunch of salmon and quinoa.
Radio Africa Kitchen
4800 3rd St.
San Francisco, CA 94124 [Map]
Ph: (415) 826-9660
Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-2:30pm, 5:30pm-8pm; Closed Sat-Sun
Facebook: Radio Africa Kitchen
Price Range: $$ ($11-$15 per diner)
Yelp: Radio Africa Kitchen
Aicha Moroccan Cuisine
Most of a Moroccan restaurants in a city of San Francisco share 3 traits — they’re grave affairs open customarily for cooking (with swell dancing frequently on weekends), competition an perplexing interior design, and are located in a Lower Nob Hill area around Polk Street.
The six-year aged Aicha, started by a first-time restaurateur from a tech courtesy (long before that was a cliché it is currently in 2017) customarily satisfies a latter of that trio. It is indeed open for lunch and a dark, comfortable space with lanterns swinging above a kitchen, Moroccan art pieces sparse on a walls cushions and low-back banquettes lonesome with sheets that yield a ease shun from a relentless bar yield of Polk Gulch outward nonetheless frequency an exuberant sourroundings like during a ritzy Marrakech hotel. It feels a tiny musty, like a well-worn vital room of an unit where many of a unit is an open kitchen and food storage.
The categorical standards of Moroccan cuisine make adult Aicha’s menu, led by kebab-on rice “grillades” and 15 sum choices for tagines and couscous plates.
Everything was beguiling nonetheless seemed a parasite off in some regard. A lamb handle tagine had a resigned gas and a lamb itself a bit on a overcooked side, blank a hoped for gaminess and fork-tender flakiness (and we wish a tagine itself was during slightest presented tableside). Bread with a tagine is baggy and pale, like a cake-textured white bread (compared to a baguette during Cafe Zitouna mentioned below). The plump prunes on a tagine image were a best partial of a image — not accurately what you’d wish for. A stately kebab platter provides an collection of several meats that change from being a juicy, rewarding kefta (ground beef and lamb) to excellent nonetheless uninspiring (merguez and chicken) to being clearly left on a griddle too prolonged (beef). We should discuss a concomitant rice and salad (with craisins and olives!) were a step above a norm. However, even a tea customarily didn’t have a packet power that mostly is found during matching establishments.
The reasons to rarely suggest Aicha are how a dishes that uncover Moroccan cuisine’s classical heated honeyed meets delicious contrariety are a ones that thrive. Do we like Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Then don’t consider twice about a side sequence of a cinnamon and sugarine dusted couscous with unchanging and golden raisins. This is not a pointed image in any approach and it’s tough not to adore a sweet-edged nation sensibility.
Whatever you’re categorical partial of a image is, start with a basteeya, Morocco’s chronicle of a comfortable protein-filled fritter coated with cinnamon and sugar. Aicha’s chronicle is right on standard with a best that Mourad Lahlou has offering during Mourad and Aziza. Saffron, turmeric and ginger come billowing out with a fume when we impulse a flaky phyllo membrane and have a initial punch of a wet chicken. There’s a lot going on. And, a apportionment is inexhaustible (keep in mind it’s an appetizer!). Each punch is a stirring moment. Of course, couscous, tagines and kebabs get all a attention. Heck, Moroccan packet tea even is some-more talked about in many dining circles. This basteeya will remind we that it deserves a place on a table, as well. Just make room for a categorical courses given Aicha’s tiny tables’ space gets filled adult unequivocally quickly.
Aicha Moroccan Cuisine
1303 Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109 [Map]
Ph: (415) 345-9947
Hours: Mon, Tue and Thu, 11:30am-9:15pm; Wed, 4:30pm-9:15pm; Fri-Sat, 11:30am-9:45pm; Sun, 11:45am-9pm
Facebook: Aicha Moroccan Restaurant
Price Range: $$ ($15-$20 per diner)
It was roughly fate. Just a few moments after deliberating since griddle writers never start reviews with dessert, here came a nominal dessert that sounded common and seemed like a good gesticulate that will customarily finish in a rite integrate of deferential bites. It valid to be one of a essential dishes of any African cuisine in a Bay Area. The dessert is called basboussa, an orange freshness H2O peaked semolina cake surfaced with pistachios that eventually tastes like a floral-tinged baklava with a hardness of a syrup-soaked Belgian waffle. After a array of tagines and couscous platters, it’s tough to suppose diners emotional for dessert. Well, greatfully take a recommendation — save room. Or, eat dessert first. Trust us. This is since dessert is mentioned initial for this Moroccan-Tunisian griddle in Lower Nob Hill.
With plain white walls, unclothed surfaced practical tables, Paris bistro wicker chairs and a diner-style open kitchen using a length of a room with a opposite of a integrate antique Moroccan cooking vessels apportionment as a sole decoration, Cafe Zitouna can’t accurately be called a grande dame in anything nonetheless age. The categorical pattern indicate is a abounding object streaming in from a windows along Polk Street.
Design doesn’t matter here. There are no swell dancers here, either. Cafe Zitouna is one of a longtime stalwarts of Northern African cooking in San Francisco and screams if a certainty that customarily a longtime area tie can boast. You’ll find many of a classical Moroccan standards, like a balmy lentil soup, harira, that soothes on initial dip nonetheless needs a few dashes of a housemade harissa seasoning to turn entirely realized. In a daytime, a owners Najib Rebia is bustling creation couscous himself in hulk bowls during a list on one side of a restaurant. That is your evidence that couscous is imperative and indeed it is — feathery to a indicate of roughly dissolving on a palate. A horde of soft, roughly fluffy vegetables (carrots, turnips, zucchini, potatoes, bell peppers) lay in a skinny tomato-like gas and get ladled into a couscous on particular plates. Again, harissa is indispensable to supplement some pizazz nonetheless many importantly, try a couscous on a own. Couscous comes with all sorts of meats and fish, as well, like a housemade merguez that has a right proud hardness nonetheless lacks a smoke-spice change of a peers in a city (most particularly during 4505).
While Aicha missed on some details, each dilemma seems to be suspicion out by Cafe Zitouna — conspicuous for a griddle staffed by Rebia in a front-of-house and a singular prepare in a kitchen when we visited and are told that is customarily a case. The packet tea here comes with sugarine and is already easily honeyed right during a ideal level. You’ll be drifting off a walls nonetheless not removing a sugar-induced toothache. Every list gets crusty uninformed baguette, initial for dunking in olive oil, afterwards a harira and finally a tagine sauces. Between a couscous and this baguette, don’t even dream of bypassing carbs during this place.
Like Aicha, Cafe Zitouna is a particularly Halal restaurant. There is a far-reaching operation of diners who revisit Cafe Zitouna, from comparison regulars opening to receptacle several doggy bags for successive dishes to a exploring forms extraordinary what this chronicle of basteeya (with egg) is like to guest opening directly from a adjacent mosque on Sutter Street.
But what creates Cafe Zitouna mount out are a half dozen equipment from Tunisia, Rebia’s homeland, that gaunt heavily on aggressive, brighter spices. Oh, and, all seems to have an egg on it. Mediterranean and French colonial flavors, so there are lots of bell peppers, tomatoes and capers, along with lighter spices like parsley and thyme instead of a darker berbere piquancy blends. Note a olive oil on tables and how it’s used for cooking meats. Tunisian salads are splendid and light, like in taktuka braggadocio a sudden anise records of caraway seed with bell peppers, tomatoes and onions. For something robust from a Tunisian repertoire, demeanour to a tomato-based tagines with kufta meatballs or merguez that are zero like a honeyed and delicious tagine multiple so renouned in successive doorway Morocco.
If you’re meditative this seems a tiny like belligerent beef and marinara, well, you’re not distant off. The quirky Tunisian specialty that can customarily be found here is a crepe called breek with a prepared for Instagram balmy yolk egg in a center. It’s filled with tuna, potatoes and capers, a curtsy towards a Mediterranean seashore Tunisia borders. A finishing fist of lemon is nonetheless another comfortable weather, coastal member and a required one to spin out a breek. Start with breek, have some sharp-witted review over couscous and tea, afterwards finish with basboussa, and get mislaid in a image of Morocco, Tunisia and comfortable hospitality. You’ll be full, you’ll have had a good time and you’ll have schooled a lot about new flavors and places. Isn’t this what dining out is all about?
1201 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94109 [Map]
Ph: (415) 673-2622
Hours: Tue-Thu and Sat-Sun, 11:30am-9pm; Fri, 2pm-9pm
Facebook: Cafe Zitouna
Price Range: $$ ($15-$20 per diner)
Yelp: Cafe Zitouna