I have become one of those typical Ghanaians that travel to another country to only eat Ghanaian food. To be fair though, US and UK have similar types of food and a burger is a burger to me. On my first night I had salmon and rice and it made me sick as a dog the next day so when my friend asked where I wanted to eat the next day, I said let me stick to my own food.
The first Ghanaian restaurant I visited was Accra Restaurant in the Bronx. It is quite a spacious place and more like a chop bar/canteen with the food laid out so you can say “I want that, and that, and what soup is that”. I decided to go for the Waakye and fish. Before I start, as you know everything in America is BIG. She asked if I wanted the small or large portion. I asked for the small, but to be honest, I should have just shared the Banku and Tilapia with my friend. His portion was enough for two people, mine was enough to last me the whole week. The lady gave me practically a tray of rice with macaroni, gari and not one but three pieces of fish. When we sat down, I asked my friend to get me a take away pack because not only do I eat slow but when I see a lot of food on a plate it suppresses my appetite. The waakye wasn’t bad, I’ve tasted better, however apparently, they are known for their Banku and Tilapia (wish I known that before).
The next day, on to Brooklyn where I had rice balls with peanut soup at Akwaaba restaurant. Akwaaba for those of you that don’t know means welcome. On first impression it was anything but welcoming. The whole restaurant was probably the size of my bedroom with about 3 tables, a restroom the size of my wardrobe and the kitchen area. We ordered the rice balls with peanut soup which to be honest was really nice but her customer service skills did not match her cooking skills. First of all, she looked in judgement at me when I had my little shot of vodka bitters before my meal. Then when the food eventually turned up and I asked for extra ginger she brings it out for my friend (a guy) totally dismissing me.
The lady did soften up a little though, apparently she had staffing issues so she decided not to hire anyone and do it all herself. I’m guessing she was really tired doing it all on her own so had to feel some sympathy for her. This little place in Brooklyn reminded me of some of the places I used to eat in Hackney. A lot of Ashanti “Bogars”, they’re loud, they’re proud, they eat and they leave without leaving a tip. No wonder my girl couldn’t crack a smile.
The last place I went to was back in the Bronx. Mama G’s restaurant. Mama G sat at the front of the restaurant, not to meet and greet but just so you know that she is the madam of the house. She gave a little smile but she just had this air of “this is my house, what do you want?”
Now they did the best Waakye, I had rice, meat, gari and macaroni. All I needed was an egg and it to be wrapped up in a banana leaf and I would have been transported back to Ghana. Mama G’s seems to be a popular spot not only for Ghanaians but African Americans also. We had one plate between two people and it was just enough (to be honest everything I ate could have been shared between two people).
One thing though is whether the Bronx, Brooklyn, Hackney or Peckham, a Ghanaian restaurant is a Ghanaian restaurant. The only difference is in London you will hear the odd “innit” and in US “man” but you can take the man out of Ghana but never can you take Ghana out of the man.