Through some mysterious connection to some former inhabitants of Ghana, noahbites heard that the best Ghanaian food in Los Angeles is at Nana & Naa.
The place is in a desolate parking lot. “There is a sign out front advertising to bring in your own fish and they’ll fry it, writing on the windows advertising kenkey and shitoo, plus something else which is hidden behind a clothing and shoes bin. Once inside, it looks like it is exclusively a market and I’m getting nervous that they don’t serve food here. Then I notice the confident, relaxed woman who I can only assume is from Ghana, eating a plate of food with her bare feet plopped up on the table.” The cooks seemed suspicious, until noahbites told them that he loves spicy food. This, he says, is the “secret password.” They let him in, through the kitchen. “As I pass through, I see big bubbling pots of ingredients and am hit by an unfamiliar spiced smell that grabs my nose aggressively at first, then caresses it into submission. The back of the restaurant is an outdoor seating area of plastic chairs and plastic tables covered by a big tent. I am officially surprised.”
He gets okra stew and banku. “We unwrap the steaming hot ball of banku (fermented corn and cassava dough), burning our hands as we tear off a small piece, pressing the sticky, grainy, doughy substance between our fingers, dip it in the thick, viscous stew and then suck the entire glob into our mouths. Our bodies melt. I’ve never tasted anything like it and I’m unbelievably happy to be able to do it at this moment. The food is wonderful.”
“I try the banku by itself and the closest comparison I can find is to eating raw sourdough,” says noahbites. “It’s sour, heavy, starchy and flavorful all on its own. Then there’s the okra stew. It has a totally independent taste of chilies, onions, okra and any number of spices I can’t pick out. But remarkably, it does not taste of fish. I grab a crispy chunk of mystery white fish and sink my teeth through the crackling skin as hot, savory oils bubble out of the pores. It’s astounding.”
The place, says noahbites, is extraordinary. “How are there three lovely women sitting in a market who are willing to make you a delicious meal unlike any you can get in Los Angeles, and all you have to do is show up and ask? I feel absolutely lucky to have visited this place and really, with all honesty, want everyone who loves food to give it a try.”
Nana & Naa International Enterprise [South LA]
4248 W. Century Boulevard, Inglewood
Board Link: Review: Nana & Naa International Enterprise