Monday - Saturday:
9:30am - 8pm
12 noon - 6pm
Not too far from 6th and Havana, La Promesse does indeed have all the fantabulous goods you would expect from an African grocer. Palmnut pulp! Ground corn! Plantain chips! Milo chocolate drink mix! All present and accounted for. However, it’s best known for its array of Congolese products (also eaten in Cameroon and, indeed, throughout Central Africa). Oh, you’d like to hear more about them? I thought you’d never ask.
Many types of leafy greens feature prominently in the diets of the nations which make up this region, and La Promesse, perhaps unsurprisingly, carries quite a few of these, either frozen in the coolers, or dried towards the front of the shop. Whether you’re looking for Bitekuteku (amaranth), Ngai-Ngai (sorrel – the tangy salad herb rather than the hibiscus variant which sometimes also goes under this name), Fumbwa (Gnetum leaves) or even Lumba-Lumba (Congolese basil), you’re sure to find them here. If you’re curious about the best way to prepare any and all of these, the charming proprietress is sure to have a recipe just for you!
The above greens are often traditionally combined with various kinds of fish, some of which – surprise, surprise! – can also be found at La Promesse. The two most notable here are the tiny freshwater fish called Ndakala (sometimes known as Lake Tanganyika sprats) and the dried salted fish Makayabu, which is in fact not too dissimilar to the cod used in, say, Jamaican ackee and saltfish, or the Portuguese dishes collectively known as Bacalhau. Purchase either of these and you’re sure to have a swimmin’ good time.
And there’s even more! A classic starchy side item in Central African meals is Chikwangue or Kwanga (mashed cassava wrapped in various local leaves, then steamed) and you can avail yourself of these tangy little parcels here too. Traditionally these come in several sizes, all the way up to the gargantuan Kinshasa variant “Kin 7 jours”, so named because it can theoretically accompany an entire week’s worth of meals! And if fate is smiling upon you, you might even get to buy some Safu (bush-butter fruit) to round things off.
You’ll find something to tickle your fancy at La Promesse – that’s a promise. So what are you waiting for? (Review courtesy of Mark Tunnell on Yelp)