Recommendations for Senegalese/African restaurant in Paris?
I'm returning to Paris for the first time in 10 years (I lived by Rue Cler for 9 months) and my wife and I would love to get some delicious Senegalese food. Does anybody have suggestions for a good restaurant? We're staying in the 7e, but we don't mind going out of our way, especially if the neighborhood around the restaurant is interesting. Thanks!
The "African chicken" at Babylone Bis is actually "poulet braisé", a recipe for charcoal-grilled chicken that is known all over Subsaharan Africa. And it is a very fine poulet braisé indeed.
There are plenty of small African restaurants in Paris. Due to the fact that many of them serve dishes from all over Africa, up to and including diasporic cooking like dishes from the French Caribbean, it is not always easy to figure out what country the owners are from. Camerounais seems to be rather common. Anyway, here are a few recommendations:
Waly Fay, rue Godefroy-Cavaignac (11e). Open only at night.
Mussuwam, boulevard Arago (13e). Does take-out also.
Babylone Bis, rue Tiquetonne (2e). Open only at night. Caribbean dishes too.
Le Nioumré, rue des Poissonniers (18e). In the hole-in-the-wall category, I like this one a lot.
Le Dogon, rue René-Boulanger (10e). Senegalese-Malian cooking. Untested by me but recommended by many.
La Tontine d'Or, rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud (11e). Good poulet braisé, good overall quality.
Rio dos Camaroes, in Montreuil. Excellent cooking.
Le Bamboutos, rue Sauffroy (17e). Try the poulet DG.
Benin and Togo
My favorite African cuisine. Restaurants are few and far between, they also tend to have rather irregular schedules. But it is worth reserving a table at:
Fifa, rue Joseph-Dijon, 18e. Most of the dishes are made to order so there's a wait. Call ahead.
Le Mono, rue Véron, 18e
Le Ganvié, 207 rue La Fayette, 10e.
L'Ile de Gorée,
I shouldn't recommend a place I never been to, but I walk past it almost everyday: A friend who knows about these things heartily recommends "Saumo restaurant traiteur" on the corner of rue de Chateau d'Eau and the Boulevard de Strasbourg.
It's billed as being Afro-Carribean, but apparently this is false advertising, as it's very much cuisine from the part of the world you're after.
The most animated moments are Friday and Saturday evenings when the clients and staff of the nearby hair salons and wig shops (one of which is called Anne Franck), and children, parents, grandparents, and various other friends and relations of aforementioned eat, or at least congregate here.
It is though, for me anyway, a little intimidating. Outside, on a nearby heating grate, there's a vocal cigar smoking hobo in permanent residence, a guy who plays the most tuneless jazz on a dented cornet, and his friend who beats aimlessly, but very loudly on his snareless snare drum. It's always packed, there are often altrecations involving stocky senagalese men wielding litre bottles of Guinness. Bref, it's a real scene
I was told, but have forgotten what they serve. I'm sure it's absoulutely divine. One day I'll get my bottle up and go.
I second Babylone Bis, although haven't been for a while - If I remember rightly they used to serve a killer cocktail or punch involving bois bandé and ginger - not that I need bois bandé.
All this is making me nostalgic.
I have actually been to what the Chinese chefs called Fei Zhou Ji (African Chicken). But anyplace where one went more than 2 years ago does not count in terms of recommendations. And I went to African Chicken not 2 years ago but sometime in the last century, back in my wild youth when I would stagger out of Les Bains in the middle of the night, to the Babylone place which was just down the street and had good eats and seemed to be the only outpost of cilivilization at that hour .
Chez Pauline's gone. Dodin Bouffant's gone. But African Chicken seems to continue to thrive, which the Chinese chefs are still raving about. It must be onto its 3rd generation of chefs, at least !
I'll ask him about Bambouto.
I've just remembered a good Senagalaise(?) take-out place on the rue des Petites Ecuries. It's opposite The New Morning, near, if not next to the Bulgarian grocery store - which, incidentally gets my vote for commercial ballsiness, alongside the Albanian shop on the nearby Bd de Magenta whose flagship product is a red caviar-like paste called...see photo.
Poisson braisé: same as poulet braisé but made with fish. Since the fish is generally tilapia, which I don't like, I order the poulet.
Mafé: the Malian name for the meat and vegetable stew in peanut sauce that is found all over Western and Central Africa.
Gbekui, gombo sauce: another one of those all-over-west-africa stews: fresh okra, seafood, meat, or either, green leaf vegetables, fresh chillies and red palmnut oil. Delicious.
Ndolé: from Cameroon. A bitter-leaf stew with meat, seafood and peanuts.
Poulet DG: Cameroon again. Poulet braisé in a vegetable and chillies sauce, served with fried plantains.
Akassa: don't miss that if it's on the menu, fermented white maize paste from Benin et Togo.
Attiéké: from Ivory Coast, a fermented manioc couscous, lovely with poisson braisé.
Thieb bou djen, or just thieb: a Senegalese stew, the national dish: big chunks of fish (generally grouper - thiof - or Spanish mackerel), coarsely cut vegetables (carrots, manioc, sweet potato, squash, turnip, etc.), boiled plantains, and a clear tomato sauce. Served with red rice (white rice, cooked in the broth). When thieb is good it's very good, when it's bad it's a little boring. Should be very good.
Anything with the word "sauce" in it is a stew. Sauce graine means the gravy will be thickened with red palmnut butter, sauce feuille means thickened with leaf vegetables, sauce arachide with ground peanuts, sauce pistache or egusi with pumpkin seeds, etc.
And aloko is fried sliced plantains, while talé-talé or tatalé is the same thing with sweet bananas. The latter is rare in restaurants.
for the best cooking (and least obstrusive music ... a problem in most senegalese restaurants):
Waly-Fay on the rue Godefroy Cavaignac in the 11th (metro: Voltaire)
there's also little cluster of senegalese restos in the Oberkampf quartier ... at least 5 or 6 of them in 500-metre radius and most popular at 11 or midnight when other restaurants are closed ... my favourite is Porokhane on rue Moret at the rue Oberkampf ... can't remember the names of the others but just do a google search for "Paris restaurant africain"
Thanks everyone for the great replies. We went to le Nioumre (thx Ptipois!) and had a wonderful meal. We had a sweet banana appetizer, thieb, and absolutely fantastic mafe - -so rich and flavorful! Our visit was during Ramadan, and there is a mosque across the street from the restaurant so we got to see the staff setting up long communal tables with dates and water for the influx of diners coming in to break the fast after sundown. I definitely recommend Le Nioumre for delicious food with friendly, casual service and very reasonable prices.
Thanks for reporting. I am delighted to read that Nioumre is still going strong and that you like it. The thieb is indeed quite good.
Nioumre is great during Ramadan, at Iftar time, when people come in and offer you ritual food as they break the fast. Fantastic "real Paris" experience.