Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Egusi At Kuramo In Columbia

Egusi at Kuramo
We hit up the Nigerian food at Kuramo in Columbia, and I'm a fan of our first table of food.

Kuramo is a new restaurant in the Long Reach village center, offering up a short menu of Nigerian, Caribbean, and American food.  We asked for advice, and we ended up with egusi -- a spicy stew of spinach and ground melon seed served with a very cool alternative to rice.

It's pounded yam.  It looks like pizza dough, but it's more like mashed potatoes with a slightly firmer texture.  You pull off a piece of yam, and you scoop it to pick up the stew.  It's mild, but delicious.  The stew comes topped with a sauce and a choice of fish, beef or chicken.

It's delicious.  The stew is rich and spicy.  The ground melon seed looks more like ground chicken or tofu.  The meats were all good, although I liked the white meat chicken best.  The yam is filling and mild.  Pieces pull off easily, but it's a stretchy, smooth texture that feels simultaneously exotic and like comfort food.

Kuramo is a pretty big space with wooden benches and almost an island vibe.  It was pretty empty on a weeknight, but our waitress was friendly and chatted us up with advice.  She recommended the egusi.  She talked us through everything.  We ordered chicken curry as well.  It was another big stew, good but not as interesting as the egusi.  It came with fried plantains, which were halfway between the types that I'm used to eating.  They're sweeter than Cuban tostones, but not as soft and sweet as maduros.

Next time, I want to try to okro, a stew based on okra instead of spinach.  There are several stews along with rice dishes as well.  Anyone else have suggestions for eating at Kuramo or at Nigerian places in general?

Kuramo Restaurant
8775 Cloudleap Ct.
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: This is in the Long Reach Village Center -- north of Rte 175 off Tamar Drive.  The supermarket there is Family Market, which has nice vegetables, Korean food, and lots of Latin items as well.  There is also a nice takeout fried chicken place called Chick N' Friends.

Kuramo on Urbanspoon


Sarah said...

Oooh, thanks for this review! We've seen it open while shopping at Family Market but haven't stopped in yet. Will have to do it soon!

Anonymous said...

I stopped by too. The person we talked to was real friendly and the food sounded intriguing. But, the restaurant was so noisy, we haven't gone back to try the food. What was the noise like when you visited?

K8teebug said...

thanks for going there. It's always so empty on thursday nights. I hope they've been doing well.

Anonymous said...

This is why I LOVE Howchow! You always steer us to new places with interesting, delicious food options. I think that pounded yam, and the stew are a must-try!

Recent NoVA transplant said...

This post sounds really yummy. To pass along for HowChow readers...
Just took the fam to Shin Chon for a feast based on your recommendations (we love Korean!) and was initially annoyed at the management by the crush at the door. Then we found out that it was a production crew with a surprise taping of "Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmer" (Food network or Travel Net?). I don't think they were told ahead of time, and I have no idea what was the bizarre food of choice. It was a delicious feast!

Recent NoVA transplant said...

Oh and my husband talked to a production asst and they said it won't air until Jan or Feb of next season.
I just wish I knew what the episode was about - sigh.
And we saw him sign the restaurant wall. First R&R - now Shin Chon...

HowChow said...

@Anon -- Ironically, the restaurant was literally empty when we walked in. We were the only diners on a weeknight, although two other tables came in while we ate. I focused the post on one dish because I figured our quiet night wasn't the normal scene. That open front area looked like they have crowds or dancing or something going on.

Randy said...

My wife and I also tried Kuramo last night (Friday evening after a long day of work). When we got there, it was nearly empty, except for a few people at the bar. Based on the banter that I overheard, I'm guessing that these are either families of the owners and/or regulars. Our waitress was extremely friendly and chatted with us quite a bit. She guided us towards the Egusi, and we also chose the Kuramo Tilapia. I'm guessing that after we placed our order, they ran over next door to Family Market to buy our ingredients; during our conversations, the waitress made reference to needing to run next door to do some shopping, and the food took an astonishingly long time to come to us (to be fair, I think we chose some of the more complicated dishes).

When the food finally came to us, we were more than pleased. The lamb and beef in our Egusi was fabulous. The pounded yam was a new treat for us, and it went excellently with the slightly spicy sauce/stew that the protein went in. We had ordered some fish to go into the Egusi, and in hindsight, we may have overloaded ourselves with fish, as we also had that Tilapia coming up.

As if the Egusi wasn't wonderful enough, the Kuramo Tilapia was surprisingly the star of the meal. Given that we are a pair of Chinese people, the actual preparation of the fish was not that foreign to us. We know how to maneuver around eating fish and its bones. But the sauce must have been laced with crack, because it was so damn addictive! It had a slightly sweet quality followed up with a spicy kick at the end. We were even grabbing globs of our pounded yams from the Egusi to dip into the sauce. The fish was also prepared perfectly, and the combination of the fish and the sauce together were magnificent. The waitress made reference to the cook having to use a different method of preparing the fish, as some of their kitchen equipment was not working correctly. This likely contributed to the insane wait-time that we had, but it was well worth it.

Although the waitress was very friendly, the service itself was rather spotty, and we had enormously long wait-times for just about everything. We had arrived at the restaurant at about 7:00 PM, and we finally left the restaurant close to 9:30 PM. I had to go up to the bar twice to ask about a few items (extra napkins, boxes for our unfinished food, etc.).

Also, as we were eating, there was another production of sorts going on. Some people were setting up DJ equipment on a small stage towards the front of the restaurant. About 15 minutes or so before we left, the music kicked in and was blaringly loud. My wife and I are not the clubbing type, so this was an added incentive for us to try to leave as soon as possible. What seemed odd, was that the music was so friggin' loud, yet the place was still empty, so it's almost as if the music and DJ were something they wanted purely for themselves.

Overall, it feels like Kuramo is a restaurant struggling to find its identity: Is it a fine dining establishment? Is it an ethnic bar-and-grill? Is it a club? Right now, it really feels like it's basically a hang-out place for the owners/managers and close family and friends. If you can get past all of this, the food is amazing. We might not be returning to dine in, but we would be happy to do take-out from here.