Bantaba in Lynnwood serves up West African dishes like benachin. Also known as jollof rice, the popular Gambian dish is vibrant red from the use of tomatoes and spices. Bantaba serves theirs with a choice of fish ($11), beef ($12) or lamb ($13). (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

Bantaba in Lynnwood serves up West African dishes like benachin. Also known as jollof rice, the popular Gambian dish is vibrant red from the use of tomatoes and spices. Bantaba serves theirs with a choice of fish ($11), beef ($12) or lamb ($13). (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

Hearty West African cuisine in Lynnwood

Bantaba will make you feel right at home with portions so big that leftovers are a given.

You won’t always get the same dish at Bantaba — they sometimes sell out intermittently, and quickly — but I can almost guarantee whatever you order will be great.

And really, you should try their entire menu.

The Lynnwood counter-service eatery serves up West African dishes. Many appear vibrant red and orange from an exuberant use of tomato, chili, curry powder and other spices. These flavors soak into the meat, the rice, the meltingly-tender vegetables like cabbage and eggplant.

All menu items are rib-sticking meals: Even their best-selling black eye pea slaw can be a satisfying lunch with its green and red peppers, carrots, red cabbage and cilantro, all mixed with a juicy, lightly spiced vinaigrette.

If you’re not Hulkishly hungry, you’ll likely have leftovers.

The first time I went to Bantaba, they were out of the coleslaw and fried plantains. My coworker and I were bummed but forged ahead. My coworker ordered Yassa chicken ($11), a Senegalese dish often flavored with caramelized onions, mustard, lemon and other spices. Bantaba’s version was saucy and came with a side of white rice.

I ordered the benachin with fish ($11). Also called jollof rice, this tomato-based rice dish is as simple as it is moreish, with a bit of lingering spice. Bantaba serves their fish bone-in here, imparting more flavor on the dish. The skin on the fish reminded me of a nice, saucy chicken wing. Tangy and rich and salty. You can also get the benachin with beef ($12) or lamb ($13).

Bantaba in Lynnwood serves their fish benachin with tender cabbage, silky eggplant and hearty cassava. Each vegetable took on the flavors of the tomato-rich rice dish. The skin on the fish was reminiscent of a tangy, saucy chicken wing. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

Bantaba in Lynnwood serves their fish benachin with tender cabbage, silky eggplant and hearty cassava. Each vegetable took on the flavors of the tomato-rich rice dish. The skin on the fish was reminiscent of a tangy, saucy chicken wing. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

Even if you’ve never tried West African food, Bantaba’s dishes will make you feel right at home. The portions, especially the benachin, are enough to make you feel like grandma plopped seconds on your plate, then thirds.

The second time I ordered from Bantaba, they were out of fish so I tried the benachin with chicken and could taste how deeply the marinade had permeated the meat. They had the black eye pea slaw this time too. After my takeout feast, I sat in my chair, feet up, convincing myself that I was much too full for one more bite of slaw.

Other popular dishes include a peanut stew with beef ($11), deep fried tilapia ($14) and their vegetarian plate ($11).

Bantaba has a small dining area, though they were still takeout-only the last time I was in. The counter servers are happy to help with recommendations and questions.

The meat portions are generous but the jollof rice seemed to grow exponentially with every bite. I was able to split the dish into two servings.

I’ve recycled the rice into different meals. For a filling breakfast, I’ll crisp up the rice on the stove before cracking a few eggs on top. During a writing deadline, I’ll hover over the counter and shovel my leftovers down the gullet, cold. I call those rushed midday meals my Sad Lunch, but cold Bantaba rice is infinitely better than popcorn and spoonfuls of peanut butter.

Bantaba had fried plantains in stock the second time around, but I didn’t order them. The benachin and slaw were plenty and anyhow, I wanted a new dish to look forward to on my next Bantaba run.

If you go

Bantaba African Restaurant

19417 36th Ave W., Lynnwood

425-678-0202

Do you have a favorite restaurant or meal you’d love to see in The Daily Herald? Email food reporter Taylor Goebel at taylor.goebel@heraldnet.com or call 425-339-3046. Twitter: @taylorgoebel. Join The Herald’s food-centered Facebook group, SnohomDish.

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