Let me say right off the bat that a visit to Flavors Nigerian restaurant isn't for the faint of heart. There's something about the place that doesn't feel quite right, as though it isn't finished or ready to be open to the public.
But let's face it, if you're faint of heart then you probably wouldn't step inside a Nigerian restaurant in the first place. So never mind the smudges on the glass in front of the steam table with the day's offerings or the way the covers on the trays don't quite seem to fit. Come on in and try something different.
Egusi soup and pounded yam, for instance. Egusi, although called a soup, has no broth. It's made with spinach and is thickened with ground melon seeds (actually, egusi means melon seeds). And it's something of a staple in Nigeria, especially the southwestern Osun State. It's seasoned with chile peppers but is not overlyspicy. you're more likely to taste the dried shrimp that is also mixed in.
Pounded yam, also called fufu, is egusi soup's most frequent companion.
Pounded yam, which sounds like something at a fraternity hazing, is actually made with powdered yam flour. It's made into a thick paste and formed into a ball. The consistency is sort of like mashed potatoes but much thicker. It might remind you of undyed Play-Doh.
The egusi also included a choice of meats that were on display, including goat, beef and fish. I had a little of the goat and beef. Neither could be described as tender, but they added a degree of authenticity to the meal.
The woman who served me was cheerful and seemed eager to explain the various foods on the menu. I'm sure I'll return to try the asaro (African yam porridge); jollof rice; moi-moi (bean cake); and maybe even the spiced gizzard. Talk about your faint hearts!
Flavors Nigerian is at 3530 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. There is no website, but the photo of the menu below will give you an idea of the prices. The phone number is 407-272-1449.