In my previous post I mentioned that I was on a hunt for obscure ethnic restaurants in Bangkok. Well, after a bit of research, I think it's safe to say that it doesn't get much more obscure than my most recent discovery. Amirra is a minuscule, family-run restaurant that serves the food of the African nation of Cameroon.
I was introduced to the restaurant-- in reality more an open dining room -- by Stanley, a Cameroonian football teammate of my buddy Newley. Arriving in the Nana area one recent afternoon, Stanley led us down a narrow alley, up four flights of stairs and past a very domestic living room to a tiny dining room with three tables. We were greeted by the friendly eponymous owner, and Stanley, speaking rapid French, proceeded to order a virtual West African feast. There was haricots:
a beef and kidney bean stew traditionally eaten with deep-fried or steamed plantains. He explained that this is one of the more common street dishes in Cameroun and apologized for the fact it isn't possible to get "real" plantains in Bangkok, claiming that what we were eating were simply bananas.
There was also gumbo:
stewed okra with chicken, as well as a bowl of légumes, stewed greens with beef, a dish not unlike the US soul food staple collard greens. In fact, Newley, who is from South Carolina, noticed several similarities between these dishes and traditional food of America's south. All the vegetable-based dishes were meant to be taken with couscous de Cameroun, a dish not like the Moroccan-style couscous most of us are familiar with, but rather a variant of fufu, the starchy West African staple. Stanley explained that in Cameroon couscous can be made from any available starch, in particular cassava, but here in Bangkok Amirra has to make do with the next best substitute: cornmeal. Everything was accompanied by a deliciously spicy chili sauce called peppée.
Amirra is not the most sophisticated dining experience in Bangkok, and is a bit of a struggle to find, but for hearty eats and mad street cred, there's no comparison. To get to Amirra from Soi 3, enter the street side street that connects to Soi 3/1, and turn right into the sub-Soi that leads to Masjid Nana. Enter the red door on the right and proceed to the 4th floor.
Amirra 4th fl, directly above the 7-Eleven at the intersection of Soi 3 and Thanon Sukhumvit 089 824 7204 Noon-midnight
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