On the Cheap: Suya Joint (Boston Phoenix)
A new Roslindale Square restaurant offers hearty stews, dumplings, and rice dishes prepared in home-style West African tradition. Suya Joint's namesake is a thinly sliced, speared meat appetizer: the suya ($6.75/five pieces) is slathered with spice paste and flash-fried; both the beef and chicken were delicious. Other beginning bits include moi moi ($3), a creamy, starchy black-eyed-pea pudding in dumpling form, and akara ($5.75), golden puffs of chickpea meal. Meat pies ($5.75/beef; $5.95/chicken) are flaky purses of crust containing juicy, sweet ground beef (or chicken) and cubed potato.
A slate of stews are available to mix and match with several dumplings. Half-size bowls of stew are $5, and fufu, a dumpling bigger than your fist, is $3. The gummy, starchy fufu, made from the meal of cassava, oat, yam, and more, can be pulled apart by hand or by spoon and used to scoop up stew. We sampled the cassava, farina, and pounded-yam versions. The powerful aroma of stockfish infuses the stews: dried, smoked fish reaches a bacony pungency alongside an earthy bouquet of spices. Vegetable stew includes chopped spinach, ogbono features curds of ground mango seed, and egusi is a savory, silky melon blend.
Jollof ($9.50), a simple and satisfying dinner of white rice cooked in tomato broth and fragrant spices, is an exceptional treatment of an often-banal staple grain. It's accompanied by spot-on hunks of sweet fried plantain, crisp and caramelized, and two tender stewed chicken legs, or tougher stew beef. The pace was leisurely; our hosts and servers were cordial and quick to share favorite recommendations. Be flexible with your choices: items occasionally are unavailable, but knowledgeable staff suggested alternatives, and once, our entrée never made it into our takeout order (I would love to have told you about the oxtail). But the spicy stews and dumplings are an exciting new addition to the neighborhood, only improved by the glowing hospitality.