Warning: This review is not for the faint of heart. Or kidney.
We have driven by Zion Kitchen in the Montana Avenue boonies so many times and said, “West African hole in the wall? We should go there!” This time, I read the reviews. There were lots of 5-stars, and lots of 1-stars. The curiosity was building. I’m not usually a gambler, but I took this bait.
When we showed up to pick up our food, it was mayhem. The cashier couldn’t understand my name (a very common white girl name). She was wearing her face mask below her chin, which I would report to someone if I knew where to do so. There was one old man sitting on a plastic folding chair watching soccer. The man in front of me argued about the restaurant charging him 5 cents for a plastic bag when he was purchasing $100 worth of jollof rice (side note: how is that even possible?)
We got home ready to pig out on tasty West African stew (after microwaving the fuck out of it).
Here is the plate o’ carbs. The moi moi (top) is…how can I describe it? An indeterminate bean and fish cake? It didn’t taste particularly fishy. Or beany. But it didn’t taste particularly like anything. It was inoffensive, I guess? The bottom features the fufu and the eba. I wish I could tell you which was which, but my experience with fufu is fairly limited. These two were pretty similar, though. Just sticky, dense, bland staple food in large quantities. In case you were that kindergartner who ate the paste.
I ordered the peanut stew with chicken for my husband. They came separately for some reason, with chicken still on the bone. And because I am the nicest wife ever, I cut all the chicken off the bone and threw it in the stew. So keep in mind that I did some fuckin’ work for this photo:
It’s rich, it’s peanutty, it’s greasy. Slight spice. Stray chicken bones. It’s good. $20 good? Probs not.
For mostly myself, and to satisfy my frankly dangerous level of curiosity, I ordered the efo elegusi stew with goat. I’ve had egusi soup before and really enjoyed it. Goat, again, is another gamble. When it’s good, I love it. But how often does that actually happen? I know this. So maybe I have only myself to blame.
Like the chicken, it was also rich and oily and the stew itself had a nice texture. On the other hand, I paid a $12 upcharge for what ended up being two bites of goat, several large bones, and a whole lotta inedible tendon. But wait…there’s more! If you look carefully on the right side, you may see something a little…off.
A little…offal (see what I did there?!) Now, I’m not squeamish and I’ll try most things. I’m not a stranger to organ meats. But I was certainly not expecting this surprise goat kidney. I had a bite and I…don’t recommend it. I rinsed it off and fed it to my dog. She was pretty apprehensive about it too, and she positively lives to eat cat poop. Think about that for a sec.
Here. Now you, too, can get up close and personal with my kidney:
Price: $25 per person. How? This place had bulletproof glass and I didn’t even get a full mouthful of meat.
Bottom line: There are at least a half dozen better West African restaurants around. Zion succeeds at sauce and fails at substance. Hard pass.