The Hungry Black Man (www.thehungryblackman.com) is back in Detroit and couldn’t be happier! Discovering new Black owned eateries, bakeries and sports bars has helped our team create more incredible content about this delicious city!
One of our new favorite spots is Maty’s African Cuisine at 21611 Grand River Detroit, MI 48219, (Phone: 313.472.5885). Husband and Wife duo, Amady Gueye and Maty Gueye, opened this Senegalese inspired eatery only one year ago, and it has already become a neighborhood staple. When discussing African cuisine, folks tend to think Ethiopian, however, West African cuisine is making strides in American palates and has definitely won over this foodie.
For starters, Maty’s, like other West African eateries, prides itself in an unrivaled freshness of meats, chicken and veggies used in their dishes daily. Chicken is sourced from a local farm and literally slaughtered the same day it’s cooked! Nothing here is ever frozen.
My journey began with an appetizer called Fataya ($5), familiar to Jamaican patty loving-Miamians because they were pretty much Western African deep-fried empanadas stuffed with onion and a tomato like fish paste paired with a sweet, spicy tomato-and-onion sauce called kaani for dipping. Lord have mercy. This sh@t was off the chain! My greedy ass ordered some to go, but decided to be a bit versatile and get them stuffed with chicken and beef. In Senegal, these babies are considered street food and are usually eaten prior to drinking in the early evening before going out to party! An absolute MUST HAVE!
We then went for the Yassa Poulet ($13), a massive plate of Senegalese grilled chicken that goes through so much you almost feel sorry for it – that is until you taste its deliciousness. First, it’s steamed, then fried, marinated in a tangy mustard sauce, finally finished on the grill and topped with more sauce! There is an amazing garlicky, mustardy flavor that is both unique and delicious. The dish comes with incredible sides – saffron rice, couscous or vermicelli. The meat was smoky and tender, with an evolving spice profile that is offset by the pungent onion sauce. You will not regret this dish, but you MUST COME HUNGRY to Maty’s! Like for real. The portion/price ratio makes you wonder how they do it!
I had to pace myself because the food was so amazing I wouldn’t have had enough space to go on my usual food tangents. With moderation in mind, I ordered the Fish Yassa aka Poisson Yassa ($13), a well-seasoned whole Red Snapper smothered in lemon, garlic and their signature mustard sauce, fried then grilled to perfection. If you love Jamaican style fried snapper, then you are going to LOVE this.
What’s really cool is although the sauce for the fish looks similar to the onion sauce for the chicken, they are completely different. This sauce is made up of fresh lemon juice, garlic, onions, peppers, and herbs that I feel could be parsley and basil based on the merging of flavors. Between the chicken onion sauce and the fish sauce, you literally want to smother EVERYTHING with these sauces. Ask for a sauce on the side to add to the savory heaven created with each taste.
Next, we ordered what looked like Fred Flintstone’s anniversary dinner in yet another Senegalese standard. Maty’s generous seared Lamb Shanks ($15) is served with vinegary onions, heightening the succulent lamb fat and super tender meat. Similarly, with all the other proteins, the lamb is also cooked twice and doused in the restaurant’s secret seasoning and accompanied with yet another amazing sauce. The process involves a slightly different process involving charcoal and a flat iron grill finished with a generous rubbing of an in-house spice mix.
Finally, I had my favorite dish of the day! The MAFEE ($13), a savory peanut butter stew with beef. I would honestly get it with chicken on my second time around because I simply love chicken and they give you an option of the protein. This is the most African thing you could order if you truly want an authentic experience, as this stew has a lot of flavor, character, and history. Unlike many groundnut stews Mafé, carries its own uniqueness and personality which is credited by the kitchen wizards of the Wolof people of Gambia and Senegal where Mafé is believed to originate.
This is a hardy stew that you should eat if you are getting into a fight or taking a long journey. I ate it and ran back to my hotel wearing flip flops in 28-degree weather (Thanks Detroit). It’s far thicker than your average stew and is best when eaten with their flavorful yellow or white rice. Carrots, yams or potatoes give it that extra good carbs and the groundnut paste. The peanut butter gives it a rich, savory, and creamy flavor that will have you singing the ancient valley songs of our ancestors. As you slurp up this delicious stew, you may get a hint of spice and chili that literally starts at the back of you tongue and rolls to the front – immediately dissipating right before you start to tear up. Lord give me strength; this place is so damn good.
Oh, one last thing, they have all natural juices and smoothies! I had several of them and my favorite was the sorrel and ginger. I am looking forward to visiting again on my next Black Detroit Foodie Tour. You can reach them at Maty’s African Cuisine: 21611 Grand River, Detroit; 313-472-5885 and eatatmatys.com.
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