Meet Tina Fahnbulleh, owner of Gold Coast Ghal Kitchen in First Hill, Seattle.
Nearly two years ago, we featured Tina’s pop-up and catering business, Gold Coast Ghal Kitchen, in our Small Business Spotlight. Back then, she was gaining her footing in Seattle’s culinary scene, and popping up at Watson’s Counter every Saturday night.
Now, Tina has a brand new brick-and-mortar near Downtown to call her own. The new space has allowed her to expand her offerings and showcase her traditional West African dishes and Northwest-inspired takes.
Learn more about Gold Coast Ghal Kitchen in this week’s Small Business Spotlight Q&A below!
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
I was born in Liberia and raised in Ghana. My love for food and cooking stemmed from spending time with my maternal grandmother and helping her cook in the kitchen.
What does it seem like people misunderstand the most about West African food?
People tend to think its all new and unfamiliar ingredients. But it’s really what they know and what they’re used to, and what’s in their pantries already. Tomatoes, curry, peanuts, turmeric, and spices that we tend to know and love already.
What dishes are people loving so far at your new restaurant?
The Goat Peanut Soup is a favorite, the Waakyé (pronounced waa-chay, a rice and beans based dish), and the Potato Greens. It’s usually most peoples’s first time having potato greens, so it piques their interest.
The Waakyé is served with beef stew, shito (a shrimp pepper sauce), spaghetti noodles, fried plantain, cabbage slaw, and a soft boiled egg.
It looks like your menu leans naturally gluten-free, and you also have some vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu, can you describe those?
The Red Red is one of our vegan dishes here. Traditionally for red red you would use crayfish, so that’s omitted. Our red red is a Black eye pea stew with avocado, fried plantain, and gari, which is dried fermented cassava, and it’s super good. And the Waakyé can be made vegan with our mushroom stew. That is made specially for this area with local mushrooms.
I see fufu on the menu with a lot of dishes. What is fufu, for those who are unfamiliar?
So fufu is a ball of dough made from a starch vegetable, and it can be made from a few different things. Traditionally it depends on where you’re from, your region, your tribe. My tribe uses either cocoyam which is taro, or plantain or cassava.
On weekend we make starch specials. Today’s is Banku, which is fermented corn dough. We cook it into a dough and make it into a ball, and you have it with okra stew. So today’s special is a seafood okra stew with this Banku.
And how do you traditionally eat the fufu?
So you eat it with your hand. Take a piece of it and dip it in the soup or stew you’re enjoying it with.
It’s a pretty laborious process, right? You have to stir it for a very long time?
[Laughs] Very.. very. I’ve got two pots of two different starches going, so it’s definitely an arm workout.
What are you loving most about the neighborhood your business is in?
I like the location my business is in because it’s centrally located and easily accessible from the CD, Cap Hill, ID, and Downtown. I also love that it’s located by the hospitals and that staff can take a break in my space. People have also been coming in from my pop-up days, and our neighbors are liking that we are here. We’re so happy to finally have our own brick and mortar where we can showcase our full arsenal of wonderful flavors.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
Because it spreads wealth in the community, keeps innovation alive, and allows other cultures to showcase their craft and flourish in their creativity.
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