I have long thought that there is no end what can be learned about and through food. Last night that was pleasantly confirmed at a restaurant and cuisine new to me, that of Senegal. the restaurant is on Eighth Avenue between 118 and 119th Streets. Telephone is 1212 6660078. It is in a neighborhood that is richly Senegalese and one sees along with normal clothing, some amazing things on both men and women,
It is tiny with a small outdoor terrace and lots of baked goods for take out. They make their own bread and a wide variety of pastries. Caution: it is Moslem so no alcohol. There is a drink made from hibiscus flowers--a rich red color--and delicious. I have had it before in Mexico, but here where it is made on premises, it is a darker red and richer in flavor.
The language is a mix of French and African.
The menu is limited; but the food is delicious and mildly spicy. Much is vegetarian and there is seafood as well. One more warning, in addition to being spicy, there is one sauce made with oil, heated, and hottish red peppers cut in small dice that repeats on several dishes. Ask the waiter for advice. Several times when i did, the head of the chef popped out of the back kitchen door. Service is very friendly and the patrons a racial mix.
I began with a dish of mussels that wee opened and laid flat on the half shell. There were just enough to cover the platter which was plenty. They were liberally doused with the semi ubiquitous sauce and were hot in temperature, plump and perfectly cooked and delicious. My daughter started with a version of spring rolls that i avoided thinking they would be a taboo to me with floury dough. Instead, they were in some version of rice paper and looked divine--ah well, next time.
T went on with a vegetable curry--not orange--served next to enough rice with oil to feed a small Chinese village for a week. The vegetables were various going from broccoli to spinach and beyond. My husband had a similar dish with different seasonings and a different name. Our daughter had fish with sauce and spinach on the side.
We wanted to try the fish cakes, but they had been too popular and were out.
None of us had dessert as we were sitting outside since we had the dog with us and it wa getting chilly. I cannot wait to try it again. Maybe there will be fishcakes this time.