Tom Armitage | May 1, 200104:14 PM     3

Afrikando, located at First Avenue and Broad Street in Belltown, is reputed to be the only Senegalese restaurant in Seattle. The owner/chef, Jacques Sarr, is a dentist by training. In Senegal, the women do the cooking, but, luckily for us, Jacques’ mother decided to teach her son how to cook to prepare him for his life’s adventures outside of Senegal.

I started with a tamarind drink that was a nice balance of sweet and sour and full of tamarind flavor. Delicious! Then, on the recommendation of my extremely helpful and informative waitress, I ordered Thiebu Djen. This dish consists of a generous mound Jolof red rice (Basmati rice cooked in a tomato sauce). The rice was wonderful, with a mysterious, herbal, earthy flavor that wasn’t at all what I’d expected. I’m sure the sauce uses tomatoes as a base, but they had clearly been long simmered with other herbs and flavorings. On top of the rice was a moist, nicely cooked halibut steak. The large ends of the halibut steak were each stuffed with small thumb-tack sized portions of a paste made with parsley and habanero peppers. The rest of the plate was occupied by cabbage, carrots, eggplant, and cassava. The house-made hot sauce, which tasted like a simple puree of habanero chiles, could be added for extra heat. For desert, I had Thiakry, a pudding made with fine-grained couscous, mango, pineapple, and raisins, in a sauce of yogurt and sour cream flavored with vanilla and nutmeg. I loved every bite! Very soothing without being overly sweet or cloying. At the end of the meal, I relaxed with a cup of Senegalese tea, called Atttaya, a strong tea with lots of sugar and mint.

Afrikando is a place I’ll add to my short list of regular haunts. Interesting and different flavors, well prepared food, friendly service, and reasonable prices. What more can you ask for?

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