Subscribe




Out of Africa

Nailah’s Kitchen brings a taste of Senegal to Baltimore.

By S.H. Fernando Jr. - November 2016

Review: Nailah’s Kitchen

Nailah’s Kitchen brings a taste of Senegal to Baltimore.

By S.H. Fernando Jr. - November 2016

The thiebou djeun. -Photography by Scott Suchman

Get Baltimore Daily.

Sign up today and you'll get our latest stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday afternoon.

Mohammed Agbodjogbe, 45, could be a poster child for the American Dream. After immigrating to America from Senegal in 1999, he got his first job working at the KFC on New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring. Today, the real-estate developer is the proud proprietor of Nailah’s Kitchen in Govans, which claims to be the first fine-dining restaurant to bring the bold flavors of Senegal to the Baltimore area. In the 112-seat dining room, the white tablecloths bestow a simple elegance. There are also artistic touches like a massive lighting fixture made of traditional wooden bowls and a collage of spoons and forks.

Our waitress asks if we are familiar with Senegalese food, as she hands us a slickly produced binder containing photos of the dishes. When we admit that we’re not, she explains that Senegalese food favors stewy, one-pot dishes served with rice or couscous along with the all-important sauces, redolent of onions, garlic, ginger, and Dijon mustard—an influence of French colonization.

She recommends the thiebou djeun—pronounced “cee-boo jen”—($25), Senegal’s national dish of fish stuffed with garlic, parsley, and dried peppers, and slow-cooked with rice and vegetables in a tomato-based stock. Nailah’s version features a hunk of red snapper served on a bed of broken rice with cabbage, carrot, and yucca. The richness of the dish is cut by the acidity of a spicy, sweet sauce made with a special Senegalese seasoning blend called adja. We also order mechoui ($30), a marinated lamb shank served with couscous and sauce sap, the mustard-based condiment that doubles as Senegalese ketchup—but the meat is a bit dry. The pintade braise ($15), a whole grilled guinea fowl, tastes like roast chicken, and, once again, is greatly elevated by the sauce—this time sauce vert, a green variety that gets its color from parsley. We also make quick work of an appetizer called fataya ($5)—small empanadas stuffed with spiced tilapia.

Since the restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol, we washed it down with bissap ($10), a combination of tart sorrel (hibiscus) and pineapple juice, which, though a bit sweet, complements the bold flavors. Thiakary ($10), a combination of sweet milled couscous, yogurt, orange, and raisins, provides the perfect ending to the meal.

›› Nailah’s Kitchen 5722 York Road, 443-461-5600. Hours: Tue.-Sun. 4-11 p.m. dine in, noon-11 p.m. carryout; closed Mon. Appetizers: $5-7; entrees: $9.99-40; desserts: $5.





You May Also Like

In Good Taste

Charmed Kitchen Readies for Spring Opening in Butchers Hill

The eatery will highlight cafe service during the day, and chef-driven fare for dinner.

On The Town

Open & Shut: The Melody Cafe; Shake Shack; Firehouse Coffee Co.

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

Food & Drink

The Kitchen Sink

Avenue Kitchen & Bar offers a bit of everything.


In Good Taste

Hotel Revival Restaurants Will Showcase Local Farmers, Brewers, and Distillers

The new property brings a hyper-local focus to Mt. Vernon this spring.

In Good Taste

The Rowhouse Grille Hosts LLS Fundraiser Honoring Alex Wroblewski

The 41-year-old Locust Point resident was fatally shot outside of Royal Farms in November.

On The Town

Local Bars Offer Food and Drink Specials for Super Bowl Sunday

Expect cold beer, bottomless buffets, and Philly-and New England-inspired snacks.

The thiebou djeun. -Photography by Scott Suchman

Get Baltimore Daily.

Sign up today and you'll get our latest stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday afternoon.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Speedskater Thomas Hong Will Represent Maryland in Winter Olympics: In his first-ever Olympics, Hong returns to his home country of South Korea.

Park and Perk Hits the Streets Offering Zeke’s Coffee: Matthew Fouse puts local spin on a vintage Italian coffee cart.

Amy Sherald Unveils Portrait of Michelle Obama: The Baltimore artist was celebrated this morning at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

Charmed Kitchen Readies for Spring Opening in Butchers Hill: The eatery will highlight cafe service during the day, and chef-driven fare for dinner.

Proposed House Bill Would Reverse Craft Beer Law: HB1052 would repeal contract brewing, cap sale amounts, and alter sample sizes.