Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jungle Food Marathon Part 1: From Africa to Peru

9 foodies, 4 "jungle foods" restaurants (+1 drink stop), 7 hours.

Back in November (yes, I'm behind ... ) 7 foodbloggers and some of their +1s made a trek from Inglewood down to Westminster to hit "jungle food" restaurants, i.e. cuisines from countries with jungles. Led by Mattatouille, the group that included FoodMarathon, LA&OC Foodie, FoodDestination, DigLounge, Teenage Glutster, and I made our first stop at a Nigerian restaurant, Nkechi African Cafe.

This was actually a detour as our original stop, Saaris, was closed. Thanks to iPhone's Yelp app we managed to find this African place nearby.
The place was completely empty when we arrived and the one staff they had there was definitely shocked to see the nine of us walk in.

We got some fermented palm juice to share around the table. It tasted slightly carbonated and was actually lighter and not as sweet as I had thought (or wanted it) to be.
So here you can order any type of rice/stew and get any of the different types of meat they offer.

We started out with some Jollof Rice with mixed meat
This was a good start. The tomato based rice reminds me of jambalaya a bit. The mixed meat was tasty (they were deep fried :P ).

Next we had some egusi soup (made with melon seeds) with goat meat, with some balls of starch (either fu fu which is made of cassava, or eba, made from yam)"
The egusi soup with goat meat was not bad, though the texture was rather interesting. It's rather hard to describe. Let's just say I would eat this again. If I have to.

The other dish we got was the ogbono soup, which is made with mango pits, and we ordered this with fish.
Umm. So. None of us liked this. I think Mattatouille was the only one who kept giving it more tries, while most of us stopped after two or three. The consensus, I believe, was that this tasted like "rubber tire with a slight hint of blue cheese."

Besides Teenage Glutster, I think this was the first time most of us had Nigerian food, but it's doubtful that we would try ogbono soup again. At least we can say that it tasted pretty darn authentic :P

Nkechi African Cafe
2717 W Manchester Blvd
Inglewood, CA 90305
(323) 541-1265
Nkechi African Cafe on Urbanspoon

Now, with that rubbery taste in our mouth, we rushed down to our next stop - El Rocoto Peruvian restaurant down in Gardena.
The strip mall joint was relatively busy and our server was a bit surprised (disappointed?) that the nine of us only ordered 4 dishes but then we told her of our lil excursion.

BTW, I was also disappointed because I saw Cusquena Negra on the menu but apparently they don't actually have it :(

We started with, of course, some ceviche mixto.
Just like Food Destination, I also just went to Peru last summer, and having had the amazing ceviche at La Mar, this doesn't quite measure up, but it was still pretty good.

We also got a combination plate containing seco de cardero (lamb stew with cilantro) and cau cau (tripes and potatoes)
The seco de cardero is hearty and gamey - this was my favorite dish of the whole meal. I wanted to get seconds but it was all gone by the end :< (Hmm I think FoodMarathon finished it .... ) The 'saltado' dish which is just sauteed with tomatoes and onions with thick fries served with lightly seasoned rice is a very popular Peruvian dish. Here we got the seafood version, saltado mariscos
I thought this was a decent version, though not as flavorful as I've had before.

We also got some Chifa dish, which is the Peruvian version of Chinese dishes. This is the pollo enrollado (chicken rolled up with pork, shrimp, asparagus, with veggies in oyster sauce).
I have no real opinion on this dish. It was enjoyable though I prefer to have my Chinese and my Peruvian food separately.

This meal definitely was way more enjoyable than our first and we were glad to get the ogbono soup taste out of our mouths!

El Rocoto Peruvian Restaurant
1356 W Artesia Blvd
Gardena, CA 90248
www.elrocoto.com
(310) 768-8768

El Rocoto Peruvian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

This adventure is to be continued on my next post as I go through the other restaurants. In the meantime though, you can read the other bloggers' accounts of this adventure:
LA&OC Foodie's , DigLounge's, , FoodDestination's, Teenage Glutster's and then you can take the quiz at FoodMarathon's site!

4 comments:

Aaron

Looks like you eat out too much Fiona if you're backlogged to November =]. I was also disappointed with the cusqueña negra. Oh, and I was the one who finished the lamb. Sorry!

Food, she thought.

That sounds like so much fun!!! Cannot wait to read the next installment.

burumun

Aaron: Yeah :P And I haven't been blogging as frequently, which makes it back up even more! Still not done with my NY and NOLA posts either!

Food, she though: It is lots of fun! With great foodie companies too. You should join us next time ;)

choisauce

all I have to say is Im glad this post had a happy ending! :) Im still thinking about those amazing sauces at el roccoto and unfortunately had some traumatic flashbacks of the first place after seeing the pics. omg I think I can still taste the burned rubber and rotten blue cheese tastes in my mouth! haha

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