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Restaurants & Bars

Ngoma Restaurant

SKU | Jan 6, 2002 02:44 PM

Just tried this new African restaurant on Wilshire near LaBrea. It has apparently been open for four months and is the only non-Ethiopian African spot I know of in the neighborhood. It has both Eastern and Western African. The basic set up is that each meal comes with a starch dish which is used to sop up a stew or other saucy dish.

The best dish was fufu and ground nut stew. Fufu is a starch made, I beleve, from casava, which tastes like very stiff, chewy mashed potatoes. It was pleasantly pasty and had a good flavor. The starch is used to dip in the stew, which was a rich, orange colored, peanut stew with slices of beef. (Interestingly, I've made this dish at home before, but never tried it at a restaurant.) Also good was a whole fried tilapa, with a spicy red sauce that had a vaguely curry flavor. Less successful was the Ugali sukuma wiki. The ugali (a corn-meal based starch, used in a manner similar to fufu) was bland as was the chicken stew served with it. Sukuma wiki is a dish of stewed greens, not unlike southern-style collards; it had a nice flavor, similar but less overpowering and spicy than southern greens. Also good was the casava chips appetizer. It was crisp, french-fry cut casava (which I believe, is the same as yuca, though please correct me if I'm wrong) served with several dipping sauces: ranch dressing, a red hot sauce which tasted like a Louisiana style sauce and a spicy, green, jalepeno based sauce. Fried plantain appetizer (dodo) was fine, but you can get better ones at Versaille.

The restaurant is clean and bright, with a great soundtrack of African music (several CDs are for sale). The wait-staff was pleasant and helpful, and seemed excited to see patrons interested in the cuisine.

While I've had some African cuisine, I'm no expert, so take this for what it's worth, but I thought the food was generally good, though not spectacular and overall, the favors could have been more interesting. If you've never tried non-Ethiopian African it's a good introduction, though not a meal that will knock your socks off. (Note: the restaurant doesn't have its liquor license yet).

Link: http://www.ngomarestaurant.com/

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