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African grocery/dry goods store? (x-posted to Manhattan)

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MikeG May 10, 2006 04:09 PM

Another post prompted me to ask this question. I know about the place on 9th Ave just below 40th, but while I'm not at all squeamish about the various dried stuff and arguable lack of sanitary conditions (to put it mildly), I've just never had the impression they have particularly high turnover. At this point, I figure there must be places with similar stock, but maybe a little more traffic, hence fresher stuff. Anyone know of any?

(I don't know what the forum policy on cross posting is, but rather than bring up Manhattan here, I'll copy this post on that forum too.)

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    Lambretta76 May 10, 2006 04:16 PM

    I imagine that there are areas of the Bronx that would probably be a better option, and JHJill at one point reported on a Ghanaian store in the basement of one of the buildings in Lefrak City in Rego Park, Queens.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Lambretta76
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      MikeG May 10, 2006 11:25 PM

      OK, thanks - I'll try a general web search - figured I'd start here...

      1. re: MikeG
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        JH Jill May 11, 2006 12:23 AM

        I guess this is the moment for me to put in my two cents. I don't know what kind of African you're looking for. If it's French West African, try 116th Street and environs in Manhattan.

        But if it's Ghanaian or Nigerian-type food (and your reference to the fish makes me think it might be), there are indeed a couple of shops around Lefrak City in Queens. One is in the basement of the center building (I believe) on 57th Avenue though I haven't been there for quite some time. The one I mostly go to is called Giftanco. It's on 57th Avenue between 96th and 97th Street (a block and a half from Junction Blvd). All the directory listings still have it in the next block, but it moved and I don't think you would have any issues with its cleanliness. The turnover is very high. They have fish in all forms (though the smelly stuff is behind glass so it doesn't smell up the shop) and lots of spices and herbs as well as interesting British and African snacks, spicy palm oil and African yams, etc. They also have lots of CDs of different West African music as well as brightly colored cloth, cosmetics, home remedies, money transmitting and bill paying. I believe the phone number is 718-760-3897. Lately we mostly cook at home so I haven't been up to the Bronx as much as I used to go in 2003 when I wrote the post below.

        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1. re: JH Jill
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          MikeG May 11, 2006 09:15 AM

          Excellent, thanks! I don't have anything very specific in mind, so the more, the merrier.

          As for sanitary issues, I was trying to avoid those discussions, but I guess it backfired. Hell, I shop regularly at the Pioneer Supermarket on Columbus Ave. & 74th St. so you _know_ I'm not squeamish. LOL

          1. re: MikeG
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            Brian S May 11, 2006 12:27 PM

            About that neat Ghana food post... there are other Ghanaian restaurants in that area. Long ago I used to go to the African American Restaurant, at 1987 University Ave, right near the Shakespearean-sounding Featherbed Lane. As far as I know it's still open.

            Link: http://www.jrn.columbia.edu/studentwo...

            1. re: Brian S
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              JH Jill May 11, 2006 10:27 PM

              I'm not sure if that restaurant is still open. I think it might be. The cook there used to be Rama, the current owner of Ebe Yie Ye. She got fed up with Mohammed telling her she would be nothing without him and decided to go it on her own even though she's basically illiterate. You would never know it. She has someone to take care of the bills but she's definitely in charge. At the market, they marvel how she always remembers everything she needs without a shopping list. Since I became a friend of hers and she even used to put me to work in the kitchen, I never went to check out Mohammed's place. It sort of seemed like treason. My husband says he picked her place because he's fairly squeamish about hygiene. We used to go to another one on Third Ave near 168th, but I believe the owner there got worn out and gave up since she came in from Jersey every day. I don't understand why we don't have any restaurants in Queens with the many many West Africans around Lefrak, but the Times had an article about food in Ghana and confirmed that most people there are like my husband. They see no reason to eat at a restaurant it they can eat at home.

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      flanster May 10, 2006 06:31 PM

      I find the stuff from the place on 9th Ave to be of fine quality. You are talking about dried fish that sit around in the sun for a long time in the outdoors in markets in Africa... However, for other options: last night I had dinner on the 200 or 300 block of West 116th st. which is hardcore African and noticed at least two African dry goods places. (The block west of St. Nicolas Ave.) I guess this ought to be on the Manhattan board...?

      1 Reply
      1. re: flanster
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        MikeG May 10, 2006 11:26 PM

        Like I said, it's not the "sanitary" issues, it's the turnover, or lack thereof. I stop in a lot since I pretty frequently go to the Greek place up the street (and the other Greek place that used to be right next door) and in the past 5 or so years, never see more than a couple of people (usually none) in the store at any given time, any time of day, week or year. It used to be a lot busier. I've been suspecting that as the African population's grown in the city, other places have been opening up and it's just not getting the traffic it once did, but never thought to try asking on a web forum.

        The dried meats inside seem to move, not a lot of the other stuff. I swear I've seen the exact same stockfish starting up at me for months on end.:) (Just kidding about that, but you get the idea.)

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