Friday, April 12, 2019

West African Buffet

B&D Halal Food (163 W 29th St; 7 days 11am to 3am) is the best West African restaurant I currently know in the US. They're also the best NYC buffet of any type (the Sunday-only buffet at glorious Nawab blows it away, but it's up in Yonkers).

The offerings at D&B are bountiful and uniformly superb. I don't understand how they make the (very low) pricing work with NYC rents and halal meats - which cost more. The woman with the white turban working around the buffet is helpful if you have questions. And, as always when eating less familiar cuisines (or looking for new angles on known cuisines), my app, Eat Everywhere, is like having me shoot you in-restaurant advice via text messages (we don't have a Guinean section, yet, but the Senegalese one will serve well).

While everything's of uniformly high quality, I'd suggest making a beeline for the following dishes: okra (even if you don't like okra), sweet potato leaves (or cassava leaves if they're out), whichever meat is available in peanut sauce (against the wall and close to the cash register). Oddball tip: jerk chicken seems like a sucker/tourist order, and it's hilariously non-Jamaican, but it's slammingly good as a unique entity.

One thing about buffets: they wrangle so many huge pots of food that every pot eventually burns, and forevermore imparts subtle burnt flavors into the food. As at similar buffets, everything here has a telltale trace, but somehow a virtue is made of it. If I hadn't eaten a lot of West African food at smaller scale, I'd have assumed the slightly metallic/sooty flavor was a distinctive part of the cuisine (it may be one of those serendipities that eventually becomes parsed as "authentic").

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