Taxi Brousse - Quick Review
- Cyrus Farivar
So last Thursday me and a friend popped down to Taxi Brousse for dinner. Despite my previous post, they only opened for dinner for the first time on May 10.
I sat down and greeted the staff in Wolof. Marco, the owner (?) is Senegalese, as is one of his waitstaff. There's another American waitress there named Annette who has been to Senegal, but doesn't speak any of the local languages (Wolof), for example.
I immediately ordered two glasses of bissap, the Senegalese equivalent of jamaica, or hibiscus juice. It came in a tall pint glass, a big change from the semi-frozen-plastic-bags-bought-on-the-roadside form that I was more used to when I lived there for seven months while on a study abroad.
My dining companion and I each shared an order of yassa poisson (fish) and chicken mafé. Each dish came with a side of either rice or cous-cous. We had one of each.
Yassa is a dish from southern Senegal that is made with a light and quasi-sweet onion-based sauce. Their yassa was excellent.
Mafé is a peanut-based sauce from eastern Senegal and Mali. It was a bit too runny for my personal preference, but was nonetheless tasty.
Traditionally, as I explained to my friend, all Senegalese food is eaten around a large platter, and you eat with your hands. Unlike Ethiopian food, it doesn't come with bread of any kind. Most dishes (if not all) are served on a bed of rice.
For dessert we had a very good chocolate mousse thing and a more traditional Senegalese dessert called "thiakry" (pronounced "chock-ree"). It's a sweet yogurt-based dessert with raisins. Theirs came in a nice dessert cup and was absolutely delectable.
I asked Marco if they served cëebujën (CHEB-oo-jen; literally "rice and fish"), the national dish of Senegal. He said it wasn't on the menu, but if I wanted to bring five friends and give him 24-48 hrs notice, that he'd arrange it for me. If you're interested in trying this, email me, and I will arrange it. I'd love to share it with some folks who are interested.
Total bill was ~$36 before tip.
1101 San Pablo Ave.
Albany, CA 94706
Don't know if they have liquor license yet.
Remember: 95% of Senegal's population is Muslim, so they don't drink (in theory).
In reality, it's traditional to drink very little during the meal, but it would be something like juices (bissap, ginger, tamarind). Then tea following the meal.
I would be interested in doing the cëebujën platter. I'm Ghanaian and the Senegalese restaurants mentioned in this thread are probably the closest to that of Ghana aside from a place I've heard of called Tropical Paradise(i believe that's the name) also in the E.B. However, having viewed their menu I can tell that it is not very traditional. We also have a dish with a peanut and palm oil based stew that's very similar to Mafe but with less os a prononced tomato base as I've had in most Senegalese restaurants in the states. My experience at Little Boabab was very good and the flavors were very similar to what I am used to with Ghanaian dishes and I thought prepared very well.
I wish more West African restaurants here in CA would serve the meats and fish a bit more traditional ie on the bone(not salmon) and not worry so much about making everything vegetarian friendly as this is not in keeping with the cuisine. Anyway...just my rant. I miss the traditional West African cooking that can be found in Harlem, The Bronx, and DC. Can you suggest any others in or around the Bay area? Please keep us posted on the possibility of arranging this meal. Thank you for exposing another west african restaurant.