Why would I leave Nigeria where I complain about not having a lot of meal options to an European country and still seek for African food?
That was the question on my mind when I got suggestions about trying out African cuisines in Paris but of course I had to explore with my friend TheFrenchKid…..
Senegalese (Le Djoliba)Location: 6, Rue Blondel, Paris
I was starved when we arrived Djoliba and the fact that it was packed helped to fuel my irritation. Why were there so many people in this small space? I wondered. But my inner mind knew that the crowd must mean that the food was really good so we waited for a free table. Some minutes later, we were seated and browsed through the menu of the day (mardi- tuesday).I went with Yassa Poulet while TheFrenchKid went with Athieke Poulet, (poulet- chicken)…..We had a mix and match of both meals.The yassa poulet (a popular Senegalese dish) was simply delicious! You have to be an onion lover though as the sauce is an ocean of sweet onion pieces. The tenderness of the chicken had me in joyous tears and the white rice was cooked just right. TheFrenchKid also testified to its yumminess. It is definitely one dish I shall be having a lot more of, anywhere, anytime.The Athieke poulet was also a delight. Perfectly grilled chicken thigh with cassava couscous which was extremely light and perfect for soaking up the super tasty onion sauce with slightly crunchy veggies.
Both sauces were so good, I kept grumbling about not discovering Senegalese cuisine earlier in my life. Another new item added to my palate collection was Bissap!Bissap is what we Nigerians will liken to Zobo, a refreshing drink made from roselle plants. It tasted sweeter than what I am used to but I loved it. I highly recommend Le Djoliba for Gabonese and Senegalese dishes!
Nigerian (Oga Timothy)
This restaurant doesn’t have a name but the owner is a wonderful cook called Oga Timothy! And trust me when I say it is quite popular. As an instagram lover, I wanted to try one of the social media hyped ones but TheFrenchKid quickly informed me that this was the most authentic Nigerian restaurant he knew in Paris.
Location: 36, Rue Ramay, Paris.We arrived on a very hot afternoon and TheFrenchKid had to step down with a bottle of Heineken first.I had “real” pounded yam and bitter-leaf soup (Igbo delicacy) that was as native as it could be. It had all those small pieces of dried and stock fish that make your brain tingle in between meals and the meat was so tender, it fell off the bones easily. I could have easily mistaken it for soup made in my village.TheFrenchKid had okazi soup with pounded yam and loved it. I loved it even more. Okazi soup isn’t what you find every day.
This experience was wonderful as mortar pounded yam is surprisingly scarce in Lagos restaurants, I had truly missed it and the freshness of both soups was just mind blowing, I won’t be surprised if the ingredients were locally sourced in Eastern Nigeria. One diner was having this very eye popping nkwobi (spicy goat feet) that had me salivating but gluttony would have been the case. Oga Timothy’s place is a must-visit in Paris if you enjoy Nigerian cuisine, thank me later.
TheFrenchKid felt like eating homemade okro soup at some point during my stay so we decided to storm the market.
Location: Place du Château Rouge, Paris. The only explanation for this place is that it is home to everything African. If you don’t find what exactly you want, you would definitely find a good substitute.We started off with a butcher shop….clean enough with variety of meat types and cuts.We went with beef, mutton and tripe. There were lots of seafood shops, this particular cart caught my eyes.There were shops for vegetables, yam, plantain, drinks, nuts, seasoning and so many other things you would find in Nigeria and Asia I think.Then we found the freshest Okro (Gumbo) pieces, got a few more things and it was time to go home…..peep the French Kid below with our market buys!End result was a very yummy pot of okro soup.