Considering that Africa is such a huge continent and that it is, compared to let's say Asia, not that far from Europe, there are relatively few African restaurants in Berlin. But recently a new West African restaurant opened in our neighbourhood and last week we went to test it.
Mama Africa is a completely no-frills eatery in the lately fashionable Schiller Kiez in Neukölln. It consists only of two small rooms with a large shop window out front. Actually it looks as if one of those ubiquitous local late-night corner shops had been converted into someone's living room: A few tables, a fridge, a computer with attached speakers on the counter, functioning as a sound system. The walls are painted yellow and white with darker dots. Everything is strikingly handmade. Clearly, no interior designer has had a hand in this.
The menu lists only a few dishes, such as Egusi Soup and Krin Krin. Once we are seated, the owner Alpha Dialla comes over and explains what he has cooked today. Usually he offers three different dishes; at least one of them is vegetarian.
The choice being thus limited, we end up with Granat Soup and fried plantains. Everything is available as either a small or a large portion, for an easy-to-calculate 5 € or 7 €. The Granat Soup is a bowl of peanut butter sauce with a few bits of vegetables in it, served with a huge plate of rice. "We'd always rather have too much than too little", Alpha smiles when we stare sceptically at the pile of rice. The plantains are perfect. They are just fried with a tiny bit of salt and are cross on the outside and a little bit chewy on the inside. And all this is served with an unimaginably spicy chili sauce. Our visit at Mama Africa evoked memories of our travels and food experiences in West Africa. We found the food as well as the atmosphere very authentic, the service friendly and the prices ok. A very welcome addition to the restaurant scene in Neukölln.
*** Update September 2016: Mama Africa seems closed for good. There's a good Sudanese eatery opposite, though. ***