Yum Village

Review by: Michael Stern

Soul Food With A Twist

Chef Godwin Ihentuge came on the Detroit food scene as a caterer, then created what he called Yum Village in 2012. In those days, it was a peripatetic pop-up operation, hosting different chefs from around the city. In 2017 he began serving meals from a food truck. Now he’s got a restaurant for sit-down lunch. What’s to eat? Soul food, but soul food with a unique Afro-Caribbean Detroit accent.

Build Your Own Meal

Layered bowls give customers the opportunity to pick a protein and a side dish. None of the menu is typical cafe food. Here you have the opportunity to eat zesty jollof rice from West Africa, peanut and vegetable stew, (known as maafe), and ginger-curry fried chickpeas.

Jerk chicken and curried chicken lead the list of proteins. Black-eyed pea fritters, known as akara, provide a vegetarian and vegan protein option. On Friday, you can make your protein lamb shank. You will not find pork on the halal menu.

Spicy Or Not So Much

At Yum Village, Afro-Caribbean Detroit cuisine includes suya fried chicken, a brittle-crusted dish that is best known as a West African street food . While it doesn’t pack the spice punch of jerk chicken, it does slap taste buds to attention, its pepper zest balanced by earthy peanut flavor. If you’re looking for chicken that that is gentle more than spicy, mango curry chicken accompanied by coconut rice fills that bill. Peach honey mustard chicken is soothing, too.

No Day Is Complete Without Fufu

To fully experience this kitchen’s flavors, have some fufu. This distant cousin of mofongo is a dumpling-like mash of plantains that came from Ghana to the Caribbean. Yum Village offers it fried or steamed. You can dip pinches of it into a bowl of egusi (ground squash seed soup), but tradition says you pluck a little piece from the big ball and use it to mop juices from whatever else you’re having. In Ghana, the Ashanti say, “A man has not eaten a day unless he has eaten fufu.”

What To Eat

Yum Village Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Yum Village?

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