Continued my education on African food, I found La Teranga, a Senegalese restaurant in Columbia City.
Located on the main street of Rainier Ave, the restaurant was still easy to miss because it was tiny!
Even though there were 4 square 4-people table inside the restaurant, it truly sat 8 people total comfortably.
I loved that it was so intimate and the tantalizing aromas from the kitchen emanated through the place.
The menu was not very big but with plenty of interesting dishes.
We started off with drinks.
My friend and l had a bissap juice and a bouye juice.
The bissap drink tasted sour plum-like, with hibiscus and floral flavors — absolutely refreshing and tasty.
Bissap was a species of hibiscus common in West Africa.
The bouye juice was creamy, milky and yogurt-like.
Its flavor was very unique, quite desserty and reminded me of Yakult.
Bouye juice was from the fruits of Baobab trees.
From what I found online, the Baobab trees had very interesting shapes, and the fruit was said to have high amount of antioxidants and Vitamin C.
As we savored our drinks, we moved onto dishes.
I really wanted the national dish of Senegal – Thiebou Djeun – fish cooked in tomato stew, unfortunately it was only served on the weekend.
We settled with fish Yassa.
I loved the decorative peppers in proud Senegalese color.
The tilapia fish was fried crispy outside, and tender inside; lightly marinated, it was really delicious.
The sauce was a lemon, olive and caramelized onion sauce, which was slightly sweet with a hint of pickled flavor.
The rice was fluffy and cooked with broth – flavorful and spicy.
The dish also had high degree of fried shallot flavor.
Next dish, we went for lamb Mafe.
Lamb Mafe was lamb cooked in peanut sauce and served with couscous.
The peanut sauce was not the tasty profile I was expecting.
l was used to peanut sauce that was garlicky and chunky, such as the ones for satay or in Thai Swimming Rama.
This peanut sauce had way deep and earthy flavor, as if the peanuts were “dark roasted” — if there was such thing.
I wonder if the deep flavor was actually the resulting flavor of cooking lamb meat in peanut sauce and with the lamb personality completely shining in the sauce.
The lamb was a little dry but still tender.
The dish had carrots and cassava, and I could taste carrot in the sauce.
The cassava was sticky as usual and the couscous was excellently dry and flavorful.
The owner gave us this little plate of pale orange hot sauce.
It looked really benign but it was the hottest pale looking hot sauce I had ever had – oniony and tongue-burning hot!
La Teranga gave us a great introduction to Senegalese food and I would certainly return to try the Thiebou Djeun!