West African Grocery
535 Ninth Ave.
between W. 39th/W. 40th Sts.
Located in the Ninth Avenue food neighborhood at West 40th Street, this small market is unadorned, its floor lined with plastic buckets filled with bags of spices, dried fish and other ingredients used in the cuisines of west Africa.
Fresh vegetables such as yuca, plaintains and serious, high-stakes red peppers. A huge variety of different kinds of rice, sold by the measure scooped from large plastic bins. Nearly a wall of bottled hot sauces. And bags of ingredients that to most of us may be unfamiliar, such as karaw, cooka, efirin, fermented banku flour, cray fish powder, and smoked boney fish. Some are more familiar such as dried sorrel and ground okra.
What to avoid:
You may need to know what you're shopping for since the extent of help, including what to do with the spice you're buying, will vary with the person who happens to be working at that time.
What to know:
This special shop is another rich food outpost in this neighborhood of high quality, low priced food merchants. The shops start with Esposito's at Ninth Avenue at West 38th Street and goes up into the 40's. No credit cards.