June 23, 2024

At Masarap Cafe, West African and Filipino Cuisines Obtain Their Pairing

Felix Agyei and his spouse Hazel Rojas each work at their normal employment Monday to Friday — Agyei as a facts analyst and Rojas in instructional solutions. But on Saturdays, they head to a shared industrial kitchen area room to prepare the foodstuff for Masarap Cafe, their West African-Filipino meals pop-up that arrives to Riviera Village Farmers Sector in Redondo Beach front each Sunday.

Going for walks by their booth on a current Sunday early morning, Agyei calls out and asks if I want to consider goat stew. “If you don’t like it, I’ll give you a dollar,” he gives.

The mixture of West African and Filipino cooking is unquestionably uncommon, and Agyei knows he requires to entice passersby to test it (as perfectly as influence them that his food items is not likely to be way too spicy.)

His tactic seems to operate — he claims just about absolutely everyone who samples the meals ends up having fun with it, and several come to be repeat shoppers (including me).

Mixing Of Backgrounds

Felix came to the U.S. from Ghana, and met his wife, Hazel, who is Filipina, when they each ended up operating at New Design and style Charter School in Watts. The two started dating 6 years back and bought married in 2020.

The blending of West African and Filipino foodstuff in a one meal became widespread in their residence.

“This is anything we have been carrying out at residence,” Agyei explained.

Rojas would consistently put together pancit, a classic Filipino noodle dish, when Agyei prepared jollof rice, a staple West African dish manufactured with rice, tomatoes and onions. When they experienced pals about, everybody appeared to take pleasure in the mix, and the strategy of beginning a cafe was little by little planted in their minds.

Masarap Indicates Delightful

“The full strategy of the cafe came when we came downtown to try to eat at a Filipino cafe,” Agyei recalled. He questioned Rojas what the Filipino phrase for ‘delicious’ was — and that’s how the name for Masarap Cafe was born.

A table with plates that contains different dishes of food. In the center is a battered eggplant that's covered with green onions on a black plate. To the left is a plate of chicken, above is a plate of greens and on the bottom is a small plate of red-colored rice.

Masarap Cafe offerings involve tortang talong, a Filipino egg omelet wherever complete grilled eggplant is dipped in an egg batter, pan-fried and served with jollof rice.

(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

They originally began at the farmers’ sector in January 2020, but were shut down a few of months later as the pandemic strike and all markets had to quickly near. They eventually restarted all over again in the summer of 2021.

At Masarap Cafe, tortang talong — a Filipino egg omelet where by whole grilled eggplant is dipped in an egg batter and pan-fried — is served with jollof rice.

Their Top secret Ghanaian Filipino Sauce

Even the seemingly conventional West African dishes featured on the menu nevertheless handle to incorporate factors of Filipino cuisine. Agyei and Rojas have occur up with their possess sauce that they’re contacting Masarap sauce, marrying Ghanaian spices with spices usually made use of in Filipino delicacies. The correct spices utilised are a closely guarded magic formula, but they are blended with olive oil, garlic, onion, tomato and ginger.

The Masarap sauce is discovered in the the greater part of their menu, like goat stew, baked hen, and baked salmon dishes, all served with jollof rice and a salad tossed with grapes and thinly sliced apples that serves as a palate cleanser.

A Black man serves rice in a styrofoam container while wearing a white shirt with yellow and orange leaves on it inside a tent.

At Masarap Cafe, jollof rice is always on the menu

(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

Currently, Masarap Cafe has develop into well known sufficient that they always promote out of specific objects each individual Sunday. The goat stew is just one of their most sought-immediately after things. Force-cooked with the masarap sauce until it is tender, the goat meat is then cooked all over again in a savory tomato-based mostly stew. Masarap Cafe opens at 9 a.m. on Sundays, and the goat stew may offer out around noon, followed closely by the baked salmon.

Agyei and Rojas have slowly but surely additional a few of new things to the menu, which include the masarap wrap — a wrap crammed with jollof rice, corn, green and lima beans, carrots and baked rooster in their special masarap sauce — as well as a vegan edition without the rooster. At about $6, the wrap will make for an easy and very affordable food for folks to get pleasure from while buying for make at the current market.

Long lasting Locale

Rojas needs to insert a lot more menu items from her Filipino heritage, such as pancit, but the couple never have the sources to do so yet.

A wrap containing red rice sits on its side and is cut in half with some of its contents spilling out onto the surface.

The jollof wrap is made with both chicken or vegetables has the best amount of money of taste.

(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

“At this minute it is form of challenging to get personnel to enable us. It is just the two of us and [we are] nonetheless carrying out ordinary function Monday to Friday,” explained Agyei. “We go to the kitchen on Saturday to get ready the meals, and then market it on Sunday. It’s form of demanding to increase a lot more menu goods, but consumers have been inquiring about a lot more Filipino meals.”

With all the constructive responses they have been getting, Agyei and Rojas system to obtain a lasting place so Agyei can transition to run the restaurant entire time, as perfectly as get their masarap sauce on the shelves of grocery retailers.

They’re at the moment on the lookout for a location in the Los Angeles space, but with prices likely by way of the roof, they are nevertheless on the hunt for the right room. In the meantime, you can find them at Riviera Village Farmers Marketplace on Sundays.

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