Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Buka

One year ago today, we were in Brooklyn hitting up a couple of places for our Women's World Cup eating challenge (yes, we're still posting about that, but hopefully will be done soon), and went to Buka, a Nigerian restaurant, for dinner. Neither of us had ever had Nigerian food before, and it was always one of our greatest regrets that we never made it to an African restaurant during our World Cup eating challenge the year before. We wanted to make sure we rectified that for this challenge.


Since we had a late lunch, we skipped the appetizers and each ordered one main course. There was an entire section on the menu devoted to tomato-based stews, which were described as the most popular meal in Nigeria, so we decided to go with that. Each of the different proteins could be ordered with fufu (we both chose the pounded white yam fufu) and sauce (which seemed to us more like vegetable sides) for only a few dollars more, so we both did that and chose different ones so we could try as much as possible.


For A's stew, he got goat and for his sauce, he picked the efo, which was finely shredded spinach with onions and dried fish. The goat was a little tough and hard to eat for the most part. I only tried a bite of the goat, but my piece was okay. That was because A was kind and gave me one of the few tender bites of goat that he had, but a lot of the rest was tough. We both really liked the side of efo. It had so much flavor, especially with the addition of dried fish.


For my stew, I chose the tilapia. I had been picturing chunks of fish fillets immersed in the stew, so when the plate arrived with a whole fish on it, I was pretty surprised. I blame my shock for not deboning the fish the way that we would when we normally order a whole fish, so I ended up with little bones everywhere before I remembered to do it. The fish itself was good, but it was a lot of work. For the sauce, I wasn't sure what to pick, so I asked for a recommendation on what went well with the tilapia. They suggested the egusi, ground melon seeds steamed with spinach and dried fish. We had no idea what that would be like, in texture or taste, but it was pretty good. If we remember correctly, we think we liked the spinach better, but this was still good.


This was definitely a different eating experience for us and why we decided to do WorldEats in the first place. We originally tried to eat it the traditional way, grabbing some fufu (which was so filling) and using it to scoop up some of the stew. They even gave us big bowls of water to dip our fingers in. We had no idea what we were doing but tried to do the best we could, but it wasn't working that smoothly so eventually we gave up and used the utensils that were also provided on the table. We definitely would return to Buka as we want to try more Nigerian food, like the stew of West African land snails that they were out of on the day of our visit. It's a type of cuisine we don't have much familiarity with, and we want to learn more.

Buka is at 946 Fulton Street in Brooklyn.

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