>> Restaurant Paradis des Gouts | Eat the World NYC

16 May 2019

Restaurant Paradis des Gouts


While comparatively small when judged next to parts of Harlem and especially some neighborhoods in the Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant's Fulton Street still holds its own when considering the treats to be found of West African origin. Chefs from a range of the francophone nations there can be found if you look hard enough, with those of Ghana a bit further south in Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Outside of this zone, the storefront at this address on the dividing line of Bedstuy and Bushwick has been home to the foods of C么te d'Ivoire for quite some time.

The previous restaurant here, called Abidjan and named after the economic capital of the country, was on the to do list for most of its life, but West African hunger pangs always led to trips to different parts of the city. Less than two years ago in August of 2017, the owner of one of our favorite places in Harlem branched out to this Broadway location. Abidjan had the name and colors of the Ivorian flag displayed proudly on the awning, but Paradis des Gouts has decided to be a bit more subtle about its offerings with "African-French-American" under its name.

Those who have traveled the region or have experience telling the different nations apart will still see the telltale signs though, the first of which is the elephants on each side of the awning. The elephant has been of deep importance to the country since its founding, not least of which because of its source of ivory that gave it the name in the first place. Now that this practice is not as common, the animal is held in very high regard, especially with their national football team who have one on their crest and are nicknamed Les 脡l茅phants.

If that slips by unnoticed, the bright orange walls will be the next clue, the color used exclusively for all things Ivorian.

The menu has been expanded since the change as well, but as with most West African restaurants it is a good idea to ask about what is and is not available on any particular day before getting too excited about any one dish. Smaller portions are available, but for sharing we found the "entree" section offered good value and size, pairing the main course with one of many side dishes that you could choose from.

Dishes like this fried fowl ($17, above) come served on handmade wood plates and are meant to be eaten without utensils as would be customary back home. At least in this case a knife and fork would not serve you very well anyways. In the background is a portion of the house atti茅k茅, a starch made with fermented cassava and wildly popular in C么te d'Ivoire moreso than its neighboring countries. This often gets translated across cultures as couscous because of a similar texture, but approach it with no comparisons if you can. Unseen in the photo is the cube of Maggi bouillon that always gets served with atti茅k茅, ready to be dusted over as desired. Missing was the customary fiery scotch bonnet pepper, a sign the chef did not take us seriously.

Covering all three dishes that made their way to the table on this occasion was the onion sauce sometimes referred to as yassa in S茅n茅gal. Using a dijon mustard, lemon, and usually a bit of scotch bonnet, the raw onions give anything they touch a life of their own and ordering some extra is always recommended.

Wanting to try the thick fried tuna but disappointed when it was unavailable, the table instead settled on fried tilapia ($15, above) and chose fried sweet plantains to accompany it. The meaty, bony fish was cooked just perfectly and seemed to be the consensus favorite of the group. The plantains are plentiful and provide a good contrast with almost everything else.

As a scroll through these pages will probably give away, it is hard to turn down a portion of dibi when eating at a West African restaurant. Here the grilled lamb is $16 and very satisfying, tender chunks of on-the-bone meat covered in that ubiquitous onion sauce again. Pick them up and enjoy, throwing in a bite now and then of what they call African potatoes, pleasantly soft and lightly fried.

Sharing West African stews can be a challenge so it was avoided on this trip, but if you come alone try one with foutou banane, a popular starch in Ivory Coast similar to fufu but using plantains. Since you use this to dip in deep into the stews and grab chunks of meat, it is best enjoyed alone, especially if your eating skills are less than average.

At a communal table in West Africa no one would think twice about this though, so do feel free to disregard the last statement and dive right in with friends and family. Grab one of their homemade juices from the fridge and live life to the fullest.

Sorrel, ginger, and bouye juices.

Restaurant Abidjan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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