The Dish

Take a taste of Tatse


To go for the very low-hanging fruit of puns, my meal at Tatse, a West African restaurant in downtown Lansing, was extremely tasty. I’ve wanted to go since it was operating out of the Allen Neighborhood Center’s incubator kitchen, so the food had a lot to live up to given the hype I’d built up in my own mind. It did not disappoint. 

Jollof rice is one of those foods that, once you’ve decided trying cuisines from all over the world is the path of (delicious) righteousness, adds itself pretty quickly to the bucket list. At Tatse, this umami-bomb dish, rich with the flavor of tomato, onion and peppers, serves as the base layer for its menus of “bowls.” These come with fried plantains, a heaping portion of the peppers and other veggies cooked with the rice and your choice of protein: chicken, spicy chicken, beef or smoked turkey. There is also a veggie option that comes with beans. I ordered the beef and was delighted to find out this option was being served with goat meat instead. I love mutton and rarely see it on menus, so I readily agreed to the substitution. 

This goat was the GOAT (more puns, I’m sorry). Rich, a little gamey and falling off the bone, I was eating it with my hands so enthusiastically that I slipped and flung a piece at myself, adding yet another stain to my favorite sweatshirt. This is an acceptable side effect of eating an absolutely delectable meal. The fat from the meat melts in the cooking process and suffuses the rice and veggies with its sumptuous flavor, and even the grease left on my fingers (and shirt) was a beautiful, spice-inflected orange-red. My point: I would love to start seeing mutton on more menus, but for now I’m grateful to know I can find it right down the road. 

Apart from the goat, I’ll be returning for the other items on Tatse’s menu that I am eager to check off my list. There is fufu, a dough-like accompaniment made from cassava, yams or plantains, off of which you pinch pieces to scoop up your meal as well as egusi and yam porridge, two starchy, soupy dishes that, despite their provenance, seem perfect for a Midwest American winter. I can only hope that I remember to contain my excitement better next time, lest I make a Jackson Pollock painting of another shirt. 


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