Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Boolay – Minneapolis, MN

I was really hungry for Mexican food and ventured to a new place to take a study break – I brought my book with me to study, so shut it (your face, not the book). When I got to the place I intended to go to, they had just shut off the lights and closed. It was 8pm. Seriously? 8pm? You’re closing for the night? Whatever.

So I walked down the street to a place I had walked past before but never tried. It was called Boolay and judging from the building that it’s in that contains an African Market as well as some other African shops, it was a safe bet it was African food. Ding! Ding! Ding! I was right. The address, since it's impossible to find on the Internet, is 1817 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis.

I strolled in and looked around. It looked pretty beat up, but there were a couple of people at various tables, so I grabbed a spot in front of the TV which was playing soccer. I didn’t care that it was a game from November of 2008 – soccer is soccer (Except when it’s futbol, then it’s still soccer). I looked around and someone saw me and came over with empty hands. I asked if they had a menu and the guy said in broken English, “we only have menu of the mouth.” This was going to be interesting. “We have Rice chicken. Rice fish. Spaghetti chicken. Spaghetti fish.” I waited for the rest. And... we’re done, apparently. My lovely vegetarian friend would be SOL in this place. Oh wait! She could get all crazy and get spaghetti rice maybe! I asked for the chicken rice. The man asked me what kind of chicken. He said a couple of words I didn’t understand and then I heard “bar-b-que.” I told him bar-b-que was fine. He hollered it back to the kitchen and walked away (back to the kitchen where he could have said the same thing much quieter). Ha ha ha ha.

I opened up my book to study, and got about three paragraphs in and then started watching soccer. Oh well. I tried. The guy came back and brought a banana and a bottle of water. I REALLY need to figure out the proper timing of eating the banana at African restaurants. Can anyone help with this? I ate it with my food, and this time didn’t get yelled at about it, so I figured at least that timing wasn’t offensive to Africans.

I watched some good soccer between Madrid Real and Malaga (I have NO idea where Malaga is at). Then the food came out on two large plates. Since I had no idea what to expect (other than some iteration of chicken and some iteration of rice), I was pleasantly surprised. Apparently, the people of Boolay are freakin serious about their rice. It was a platter dedicated to saffron/curry rice with some shaved carrots and onions. It was fantastic, but wowwie kazowie there was a lot. The other plate held some veggies (onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce) and three pieces of fried chicken. There was also a menacing looking dipping sauce as well.

The food was really really good. I was very impressed. It’s not flashy, it’s not highly seasoned, but it’s really tasty. Normally, I don't like to eat fried chicken as it's in my category of high-labor foods due to bones and such. This chicken fell off the bones and was fork tender, so I didn't complain at all. The dipping sauce was kind of a bbq spicy chutney kind of sauce. It was fantastic and spicy and also combined with the banana I was eating was a really unique experience. I devoured this meal, including almost all of the rice on the plate. There were a couple of limes on the plate, so I squeezed those over the chicken but it just made it taste more limey – not bad, just limier.

I watched way more soccer than I should have since I needed to get home and study. The guy checked on me and made sure I was doing alright (this was the opportunity I expected him to yell at me about eating the banana wrong, but it didn’t happen. Maybe I did it right this time.). I saw another dish brought out for someone else with an even larger platter full of rice, which made me think you’d really better like rice when you come here.

I will definitely go back here again, especially when I don’t feel like I can handle too many choices thrown at me. The food is really good, but don’t bother looking for a menu.

Top 5 things about Boolay
1. Honestly, the rice was the best part
2. The chicken was quite tasty, especially with the spicy sauce and banana combo
3. They show soccer on their big screen
4. It’s the perfect place to study if you want to watch soccer instead of studying
5. No one gave a single questioning look at the blonde Viking sitting alone with a text book in a crowd of…um…non-blondes…

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd would have written a MUCH funnier review than I’m doing if she went here. I wish I could have read her review and toned it down before the public saw it
2. It’s not the cleanest place in the world (Boolay OR Africa)
3. There’s seriously no menu
4. I need to figure out the banana timing (twss)
5. I had no idea spaghetti was a popular dish in Africa


Maggie said...

What's the address?

Chao said...

1817 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis

I'll put it in the review since it's difficult to find on the Internet.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you liked Boolay. I am from Seattle, and i was amazed at how delicious their food was. Oh yeah, we east aficans do not eat without a banana. It help you digest the food faster. It also neutraliZes the spicy food that we normally eat.
Does this make sense? Hope it does.

Chao said...

Awesome! Thank you for the explanation of the banana. I appreciate it. I will go back to Boolay for sure. I'm also trying to figure out when I can get to Zanzibar (yes, the island) in the near future. Kind of a dream vacation. I'll need to know proper banana etiquette when I go there!