Best Food in a Parking Lot

A Taste of Africa

Every weekend morning, Malong Pendar sets up a bamboo tent in the Northwest corner of the Ashby BART station parking lot. To his right, blankets and broken toasters fill a parking space. Across the way, a rack is hung with cheap Indian silk and bins of incense. Pendar runs A Taste of Africa, a roaming Cameroonian catering outfit that, after shuttering a short-lived brick and mortar location a couple years ago, pops up at the Ashby Flea Market on Saturdays and Sundays. Pendar is out to cure, diagnosing customers' moods on the spot, and slinging together plates of peanut stew and nkule (ginger coconut yams), nsoke (stewed black-eyed peas), jollof rice, and fried fish or braised chicken, flanked by plantain fritters and stewed, peppery spinach. Pendar's food is soul-filling stuff, sharply spiced, roundly sweet, and endlessly warming. The whole experience is punctuated by the only boom box that can hold up to the roar of a sidewalk drum circle twenty strong.

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