lunch at Kendejah restaurant in San Leandro

by foodhoe on May 29, 2017

197 Pelton Center Way, San Leandro CA  94577 | 510.756.6049 | website

Mr. K and I recently joined a group of Chowhounders for a lively lunch at Kendejah Restaurant in San Leandro.  I was curious to try Liberian cooking which has an interesting history because it was colonized in the early 19th century by freeborn Blacks and former slaves from America and its cuisine incorporates West African cooking with traditions from the American South.  The restaurant is named for Kendejah which once housed the National Cultural Troop of Liberia created in the early 1960s, to serve as a repository of national cultural theory and practice.   Along the back wall of the restaurant is a colorful mural commissioned by the owner Dougie of the founding fathers against the Liberian flag, which is very similar to the American Flag, except there is a lone white star against the blue background (the star of liberty), and the number of stripes is different.

We began with a couple plates of the Chicken wings ($11.99), which were fresh from the fryer with beautifully crisp skin dusted with delectable spices that spurted hot juices when we bit in.  They were served with a cooling ranch sauce and celery sticks and were so good we ordered another round…

The Bean torbogee ($17.99) is made with red beans, smoked herring, organic beef, smoked turkey and beef skin. Hearty and spicy, the typical Liberian dish is Creole cooking with a coastal African twist – flavorful stews that incorporate meats, chicken, pork and shellfish.  Torbogee (pronounced Tō’-bah-gee) is flavored with red palm oil which is aged (fermented) along with some baking soda.  Each bite of the stew is full of wonderful flavors and the soothing texture of slow cooked beans and tender meat.

The Fufu and Peanut Butter soup ($15.99) was so good that I can’t stop thinking about it.  It is a delicious rich soup made from peanut butter, beef, shrimp, vegetables and small smoked herrings served with Fufu, which is a dumpling made from cassava and green plantain flour.

The Fufu soaks up the flavors of the stew, it is like mashed potatoes but starchier with a texture like tender cloud-like gnocchi.  Tear off a piece of the fufu and fashion it into a small, edible spoon, then dunk it into the soup and swallow the entire heavenly bite whole.

Jollof Rice is special blend of fried rice with mixed vegetables, chicken, andouille sausage, red and black bean with plantains ($15.99).  I had never heard of this dish and found that it is one of the most beloved celebration dishes of West Africa with many regional variations.  I loved the flavorful rice full of tomatoes and onions along with the stew of tender meat, spicy sausage and vegetables.

Another favorite dish was the incredible Oxtail stew, which was full of complex flavors and tender meat.

The sauce was so good spooned over the white rice mixed with red beans ($15.99).

We enjoyed the Atteike and Fish ($18.99) a signature dish of a whole grilled fish that is coated with their special pepper sauce, served simply with refreshing slices of tomato, cucumber and avocado, and atteike (pronounced atchekay) which is a traditional couscous made from cassava root that is peeled, grated and mixed with a previously fermented cassava.  The pulp is pressed to remove the starch and later processed manually and dried and then steamed.  It looks like couscous, but has a slightly sour funk and fragrance with a light, fluffy texture.

The owner Dougie has been working hard to create a comfortable space where you can come to enjoy their delicious comfort food and also hang out at their lounge to watch the upcoming basketball finals.

We sampled some of the most popular dishes, I can’t wait to go back to try their daily specials of Liberian cuisine…

 

Hours:
Tues-Thurs 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Fri – Sat       11:30 am – 12:00 am
Sunday        11:30 am – 10:00 pm

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