First Taste

Max's Mukhaase in Mesa: West African Cuisine in the Southeast Valley

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Located in a strip mall — in a neighborhood well known for its Asian dining options nonetheless — the restaurant specializes specifically in food from Ghana. Owner and chef, Max, emigrated from that country to the United States and worked as an engineer at Intel prior to opening his own restaurant. He says cooking has always been a passion.

In addition to offering catering services (something Max says he's been doing on the side for a while), the restaurant serves a brief but diverse menu of hearty Ghanaian dishes.

Unfortunately it's not exactly a user-friendly situation unless you're somewhat versed in Ghanaian cuisine. Though the menu includes a list of ingredients under each item, a description such as "corn, tilapia fish, pepper sauce" doesn't quite do justice to the reality of the dish.

The Banku, Kenkey & Tilapia (that's the one descried above) entrée ($11.99) includes a whole, baked tilapia and a side of banku, or kenkey, the fermented corn and cassava side dish that's prevalent in Ghanaian cuisine. It arrives covered in plastic wrap to keep it warm, as Max explained to us when he delivered the food. You're definitely going to want to remove that.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria