Friday, July 30, 2010

Little Senegalese at Bissap Baobab (San Francisco)

Senegal (French: le Sénégal), officially the Republic of Senegal ... is a country south of the Sénégal River in western Africa.
--from Wikipedia

Besides the fact that it was in Africa, everything I knew about Senegal (for example, their official language is French) right before my dinner at Bissap Baobab I owe to a quick read of the Wikipedia article. We were greeted by a tall well-built guy speaking French.

The place was hopping and we had to wait a few minutes for a table. I decided to have a drink and tried the Tusker, a Kenyan pale lager ($4)

My friends went instead with the Coconut-infused rum. Be careful with these, they are as easy to drink as a Calpico soda and you can get drunk in no time (plus they're reasonably priced, making getting drunk even easier).

While we were waiting at a bar for a table, the bartender gave us some piping hot plantains for free!
Aloko (fried plantains, tamarind sauce - $4.75)
Well, it's hard to mess up fried plantains, and the tamarind sauce was an unusual but delicious accompaniment.

Though I was wary having African cuisine given my first experience involving mango pits (Nigerian), the appetizers we tried all had familar flavor profiles. The somone was similar to a potato croquette, a bit sweetened by corn and served with a creamy avocado sauce instead of aioli.
Somone (mashed potatoes mixed with corn, parsley, garlic, flour, and milk. Served with avocado sauce - $6.25)

The menu explained where many of the dishes came from, and I had no choice but to order the Tiep Dien since it was supposed to be the official dish of Senegal.
Tiep Dien (Red Snapper cooked with red Jolof rice - $18)

This somewhat reminded me of a seafood paella + jambalaya. The snapper is meaty and while it could be a little more moist, it was plenty flavorful and so was the rice. A rustic, comfort food dish. The Brazilians have their feijoada and the Senegalese have their tiep dien.

Bissap Baobab was a much better African food experience than my first, with more familiar flavors (I'm not trying to say the restaurant I went to before was bad, perhaps I'm just not used to it). It was a good, hearty meal with tasty and reasonably priced drinks and a fun vibe. Service was pretty slow though, so don't come here when you're in a hurry.

Bissap Baobab
2323 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 826-9287
http://www.bissapbaobab.com/
Bissap Baobab on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

Anna A.

Cool. I always wondered about Senegalese food. I really like the singer Ismael Lo from Senegal. And that about wraps up my knowledge of the country, sadly.

Wandering Chopsticks

Another to add to my list of eats to try from around the world. There are Vietnamese people in Senegal! Blame French Colonialism. Senegalese soldiers stationed in Vietnam who married and brought back wives.

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