Accra: Sea Breezes, Smiles and Regional Specialties

A waiter carries an array of West African dishes at Buka Restaurant, a stylish local eatery in Accra i i

hide captionA waiter carries an array of West African dishes at Buka Restaurant, a stylish local eatery in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR
A waiter carries an array of West African dishes at Buka Restaurant, a stylish local eatery in Accra

A waiter carries an array of West African dishes at Buka Restaurant, a stylish local eatery in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR
Buka's dining area is a large, covered verandah. i i

hide captionBuka's dining area is a large, covered verandah.

Buka's dining area is a large, covered verandah.

Buka's dining area is a large, covered verandah.

Groundnut (peanut) soup i i

hide captionGroundnut (peanut) soup, with guinea fowl, eggplant and kpakposhito chili peppers is served with a dish of fried plantain, joloff rice (savory rice, cooked in sauteed onions and tomatoes) and mixed vegetables.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR
Groundnut (peanut) soup

Groundnut (peanut) soup, with guinea fowl, eggplant and kpakposhito chili peppers is served with a dish of fried plantain, joloff rice (savory rice, cooked in sauteed onions and tomatoes) and mixed vegetables.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR
A waitress brings a tray of Buka Special fruit cocktails. i i

hide captionA waitress brings Buka Special fruit cocktails to diners.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR
A waitress brings a tray of Buka Special fruit cocktails.

A waitress brings Buka Special fruit cocktails to diners.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR
Audrey Selormey runs Buka. Here, she enjoys a meal from the restaurant in her office. i i

hide captionAudrey Selormey runs Buka. Here, she enjoys a meal from the restaurant in her office.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR
Audrey Selormey runs Buka. Here, she enjoys a meal from the restaurant in her office.

Audrey Selormey runs Buka. Here, she enjoys a meal from the restaurant in her office.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR

There's nothing like a friendly, welcoming smile from a restaurant proprietor to put you in a good mood ahead of a good meal. That's just what you'll find at Buka Restaurant in Accra, Ghana's capital city.

Accra is located on the curve of the Atlantic Ocean along the Gulf of Guinea. Buka doesn't offer sea views, but diners can feel the breeze from the nearby ocean wafting through the restaurant's open-air setting.

Audrey Selormey runs this new-look "chop-bar" — slang for a basic, local eatery. A gracious woman with an artistic flair, Selormey also has stylish tastes in food and decor.

Airy, spacious and comfortable, Buka is housed on the upper level of a converted house. The dining area is a large, covered verandah featuring rattan latticework, swept-up billowing drapes, hanging potted plants and ceiling fans.

Selormey describes the food fare at Buka as "fine African cuisine." She's quite right: Her restaurant serves up a delicious range of West African culinary treats.

Ghanaian, Nigerian and Ivorian staples — soups and stews — are all given a special touch. So, whether you select groundnut (peanut) soup, light soup (pepper soup), egusi (watermelon seed) or spinach stew, it's the additions to the dishes you choose that make all the difference.

Options include guinea fowl, chicken, stockfish or seafood. For the more adventurous diner, snails, goat meat and cow's feet are available.

You could also choose a grilled dish — chicken, guinea fowl, tilapia or beef kebab. Accompaniments include rice, attieke (a cassava-based steamed staple that is Ivory Coast's answer to couscous), eba (gari, steamed dried cassava grains, Nigerian-style), pounded yam, or an onion and tomato mixture — either raw or sauteed.

For the health conscious, Buka can prepare oil-free meals on request; try the fetri detsi (okra soup) for a tasty meal with fewer calories.

The same cannot be said for the accompanying side orders, however. Delicious (and anything but calorie-free) are Buka's sweet potato fries, yam chips and spicy, fried plantains.

A Ghanaian specialty, kelewele — diced fried plantain seasoned with fresh ginger, pepper and spices — is also an irresistible but high-calorie dish.

At Buka, eating is fun and, traditionally, is done with one's hands (actually, only with the right hand in Ghana, as is customary to be polite). The tables are equipped with liquid soap and handy finger bowls, full of water for rinsing one's hands. Cutlery is also provided.

So go to town on a dish of red-red, which is made of red palm oil, black-eyed peas and red pepper. It may be a little messy, but it's worth the effort.

Buka's portions are generous, though not so huge they put you off your food. A plentiful meal for two, with drinks, costs $25 to $45.

Apart from its signature dishes, Buka is also known for its fresh juices, including coconut served in its shell, ginger, orange and pineapple, as well as the Buka Special fruit cocktail, a mixture of the above juices.

Once you've finished your meal, the wait staff serve complimentary bite-sized rondelles of peeled sugar cane to cleanse your palate.

Buka — The restaurant is centrally located in the heart of Osu R.E., a neighborhood in Accra that is within easy reach of most hotels and guesthouses. Once you get to the Osu area, the restaurant is signposted and sits adjacent to the American Embassy Visa Section. Telephone: 233-21-782-953.

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