Size Matters: That damb Fried Red Snapper at Bukom Café, DC

I haven’t written anything in a while. I guess I fell into a rot and couldn’t muster any energy to write. Doing this is my passion, it’s basically my life and not being able to even share any stories or recipes was a little difficult on me.

The sun’s began peeking through, and so has some extra greenbacks…therefore a well-deserved break was on the cards, and of course it had to be a visit to the historic city that is Washington DC, home of the President and his side boo Olivia Pope…did you think I meant… moving on!
So DC it was, and of course I had to do a couple of restaurant reviews too, otherwise my taste buds, blog and you guys would not forgive me!

In Africa we say: “you eat with your eyes, before your hands.” But the current version of that is “you eat with our cursor before your hands,” so while planning my trip, I did a search on the Internet, and found Bukom Café. From the pictures alone online and on to their Instagram page? I ate a few thousand calories with my eyes before the day came to try their food with these lips!

Bukom, sits right in the heart of Adams Morgan, and is owned by a Nigerian/Ghanaian couple with a bar pretty much ran by their two older sons. Bukom offers a variety of West African food along with live music; which I didn’t stay long enough to listen to. Because it is best to relapse into a post-food coma in bed, with Wizkid’s Pakurumo playing loudly. Ahhh…where was I?

So truth be told? My first impression about Bukom was not so pleasant. I had just gotten off a two-hour flight, I was too tired and congested to even bother with the pretzels and soft drinks being served in the plane. My seat neighbor seemed very unprepared for a conversation, so was I. So leaned back, secretly rejoiced, opened my book and dozed off; only to be awoken by the plane landing almost directly on water…Beautiful as it may seem, fear nearly make me piss for body. My mother always says “we don’t have any river or stream in our village, so stay away from water.” That one advice replayed in my head as we made to land. Ike gwuru!

Fast forward to 3pm in the afternoon, I made a call out to Bukom, but there was no answer. On checking their website, it said they opened at 4pm. We got to the restaurant well past 4pm and in the biting cold, we had to stand outside and keep knocking the door.  Lo and behold, these people were not open. The first thing that came to my mind was “these people dun carry their Nigerian selves come show for here.” For a popular restaurant especially in the area where it’s located, opening at the time mentioned should be P.R.I.O.RI.T.Y!

Finally, the restaurant opened. On walking into the restaurant, the bartender/server just acted like nothing just happened and it took my tour guide to say something for us to get an “oh by the way…sorry for opening late.” It was as if it was the usual.

At first blush, Bukom looks pretty much like a regular Nigerian Buka. The only things that stood out to me were the photos of Mariam Makeba and Fela on the wall, nicely complemented with Asa blasting from the speakers. Although the pictures looked beautiful, they looked a little out of place, it would have gone with a more upscale look.

The bar was unique; not your  usual bar, as the drinks were all on display, but some what tastefully done, I’ll have to say.

Some things Africans restaurateurs fail to pay attention to is the ambience, furniture and bathrooms in their establishment. Gosh, that is like a pretty girl with great make up, nice hair but bad breath. How are people expected to get close enough for a kiss? How are diners expected to remain patrons? Seriously…we treat our restaurants like a regular road side, make shift shack. Nothing wrong with shacks oh! In fact, na their food dey sweet pass so they more than make up for it! But if you’re going to open a restaurant in the heart of the a beautiful city, let it look like you put some effort into it. Or else let the food be so good I disown my “standards” and keep going back like Rob Kardashian keeps going back to Black Chyna! On this note, I actually started humming “Bokum better have some great food” to the tune of Rihanna’s BBHM at this point.

Luckily,  the bartender/server warmed up to us pretty quickly and took our orders politely while engaging us in very informative conversations. For me, I love me some Mojitos, but due to the lack of it,  I ordered a “sex on the beach.” Please get your various minds out of the gutter! You said? Well…yeah it’s a drink that actually tastes and feels like sex on the beach…Not that I’ve ever tried it…Ahem!
My tour guide ordered a bottle of red wine, and all this was served promptly.
For my plate, I ordered the fried Red Snapper and some jollof rice, golden fried plantains and a side salad. My tour guide got the Aflao Salmon, jollof rice and plantains. The Aflao Salmon was described as “Chunks of fresh cut salmon mixed with spinach and African spices to give the utmost taste and satisfaction. Served with your choice of pounded yam, fufu or rice.” The food came promptly too and let’s say it was gone fast and not due to hunger, more like my tour guide enjoyed every bit.
 For my plate, I probably had an orgasm at the sight of the size of the fish…Not that size matters here, but that fish was huge and well fried. It was crispy on the outside and oh-so-moist on the inside. The fish came with a pepper sauce but, I really didn’t need it. I ate every bit and if I could have eaten the bones, I really would have. Eating that fish was like good sex…gosh! For the jollof rice, hmmm what can I say. It really looked like Ghana Jollof(oya sorry!) But that was not Nigerian jollof rice. I tasted good, but it wasn’t “The Jollof.”

We loved the first meal that we followed this with some Stewed Goat Meat and I really liked it. The meat was so soft they melded well with the well-cooked tomato stew.

For the plantains, my only issue with it was that it was not enough. I had to dip my fork into my tour guide’s plate just to have more. Don’t judge me; a girl can never have too many shoes, fried plantains and handbags. The plantains though fried, were soft and cooked through on the inside. I love soft dodo!  🙂

My favorite parts were the drinks, plantains and fish. And that sex on the beach was  a party in my mouth!

But the fish was the main draw…because I did a second visit to Bukom the very next day because of that fish y’all! The fish was smaller this time, but still good.  My meal the next day was very simple. I ordered the fried red snapper, a side of stew and I swapped my salad for more plantains. My tour guide had Jollof Rice, some Egusi and spinach stew laced with goat meat and oh dear! I really liked the sauce.

The only thing I didn’t like about my second visit was the insistence of the tip. The server already had the tip included in the check. It would have been nice if this was just left for us to decide on how much to pay as a tip.

Overall, it would be nice to find an upscale African restaurant; okay middle scale. Because though the food was good, the prices did not match the environment. When you walk into a restaurant, you’re not just paying for the food and that should be taken into consideration.

Bukom caters to people from all walks of life. A gold mine I’d say. Change the ambience, get a bigger stage for the live music, replace the furniture and leave the tip to the tippers abeg!

meanwhile…let’s Just say if Bukom were a guy? He’d be that rough-looking but actually sweet-natured dude who errrm feeds you so well you’d keep going back for more. 😉


  1. Michael F. Ogunloye says:

    Great review you some up Bukom cafe very accurately . I live in the area to bad I did not get a chance to actually meet you. Maybe next time. Anyway I have not been to this Cafe in years. Mainly because of the terrible parking. I remember when they used to sale T- shirts also. I doubt they still do. You should try the African Palace in Gaithersburg Maryland. I believe you will enjoy yourself even more than Bukom. The red snapper is big ,meaty and scrumptious like me. Lol

  2. Brianna Gist says:

    All of these dishes look very interesting yet yummy! Are all of these food dishes very popular in Nigeria?

  3. Latorya says:

    Love how accurately you described Bukom. I live in the area. I like the place, but it does need a few upgrades. I haven’t been in a while because they are not always open during their posted hots.

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