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West African cuisine shines at Afrikiko

By Lauren Heller     9/19/16 8:52pm

If you’re looking to go off the beaten path, or even off the continent, for a Saturday dinner, consider trying Afrikiko Restaurant. Located in the middle of an eclectic strip mall, this place may defy your expectations of a restaurant; there are only about five tables and a counter with some stools. That said, what Afrikiko lacks in accommodations, it makes up for in flavor and customer service.

Afrikiko serves West African, primarily Ghanaian, specialties. To be clear, this means that the food is not like other African dishes that you may have tried, such as Ethiopian injera bread or meat with berbere spices. As a newbie to this type of African cuisine, I followed the lead of my companion who had spent two years in Africa. We decided to order the peanut butter soup with beef brisket and fufu. Fufu, a staple starch in West Africa, comes in a variety of flavors including plantain, cassava, yam, wheat and cocoyam. In our case, it was dough made from boiled and ground plantains and yams. Of course, there were plenty of other options on the menu to try as well, primarily centered around a starch and stew with different combinations of embellishments.

First time guests will be asked if they would like to eat with their hands or utensils. If you choose to eat with your hands, know that there is a proper technique. The server (chances are this is the owner) will bring out a small pail of water for you to dip your fingers into periodically when your hands get messy. You then tear off a piece of fufu, roll it into a ball and dip it into the soup to soak up the liquid or use it to grab a piece of meat. The soup came out piping hot and had an alluring peanut butter aftertaste. Fufu’s high starch content and doughy texture make it a great complement to the bolder flavors of the soup. While the portion size may seem average, the combination makes for a hearty meal that I had a hard time finishing.

The customer service made for a very pleasant experience. When we arrived, the owner sat down with us to explain the menu and provide recommendations. Throughout the meal, he and his wife would check in on us to make sure we were enjoying the food. Even the other guests stopped by our table to ask us what we ordered and what we thought of the food.

Overall, if you’re looking for a dining experience that is completely different from the usual Saturday night choices, look no further than Afrikiko. The owners and guests create a warm atmosphere that is matched by unique and tasty food for a reasonable price.

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