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Restaurants & Bars

MSP: Kenkayba's Place - Ghanaian food in St. Paul!

kcmarshall | Nov 12, 200503:32 PM

Spotted this place as I drove through the intersection at University and Victoria. Kenkayba's Place is in the same location as a short-lived falafal joint, right next to the "Best" Steakhouse on the corner. The grand opening was yesterday (11/10/05), so the place is very new.

It has been a very long time since I looked at a menu and had absolutely _NO_ idea what any of the dishes were - Kenkayba's Place had me stumped. The lady behind the counter (Cecelia, I later found out) wasn't really much help, though she is really sweet and welcoming. She did suggest a basic rice and stew dish which is probably safest for less adventurous gringos.

I had heard a story on NPR about Fufu, so when I saw it offered I figured I had to try it. I ordered Fufu with Pepper Soup. The pepper soup features beef and goat meat, as the menu shows. The soup is fairly spicy - I loved it but my wife was surprised and a bit unhappy when sampling my leftovers. The beef and goat meat are stewing cuts and come on the bone - tasty but messy. The Fufu? Definitely an experience. I'd describe it as like slightly rubbery mashed potatoes (it can be made with cassava, potatoes, plantains). I enjoyed it but it's probably not for everyone. The fufu came in a separate bowl from the soup and I spooned blobs into the soup. The effect was a bit like dumplings, of which I'm a big fan.

A nice African guy was eating another table and gave me some helpful guidance. He warned me that the traditional way to eat these dishes is with your hands; he suggested that I use a spoon for my first try. Cecelia delivered my tray of food and then returned with a large plastic bowl of water to wash my hands. I think she was a little disappointed to see me using the spoon but my neighbor assured her that it was for the best. He also said that chewing fufu was optional - "whatever you want to do".

The menu is divided into 4 sections by starch accompanyment. The top two sections offer essentially the same soups and stews; fufu and 3 other choices (konkonte, banku, and omu tuo) are the starch for the first section, ga kenkay and fanti kenkay for the second. The third section features rice and yam sides with a few different soup/stews. The cassava leaves (like spinach they told me) and aguishi & spinach (aguishi includes pumpkin seed puree) looked especially interesting. The bottom section is the "American" section and includes grilled Tilapia, fried fish, ribs and beans and rice. All dishes come in Small/Med/Large; I ordered medium and it was plenty of food for me. Ordering several small dishes would be a good way to sample the menu; the prices mostly fall between $6-9.

I had a great time and can't wait to go back and try some other dishes. I'd highly recommend a little research before you go - I include a couple links below. The people are really nice and I don't get to enjoy a completely new cuisine very often!


Here's the most helpful page I've found so far. The links at the top help decode the starch options on the menu.

Here's an official Ghanaian web page that discusses regional foods. A little hard to believe that a country the size of Oregon is this regionalized but interesting. ;)

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