Mama Africa puts in her appearance at the Ozone
by Eric Jackson
Various claims are made about the economic health or lack thereof of the Multicentro, that upscale Colombian-owned shopping mall at the squalid mouth of the Matasnillo River.
(All right, Jackson --- HOW DARE YOU call anything about Paitilla "squalid?"
Easily. Stand on the bridge where Avenida Balboa crosses the Matasnillo River and take a whiff.)
The restaurants on the ground floor facing Avenida Balboa never seem to have all that many people patronizing them, and some have already come and gone. But several of them really deserve to survive.
On this particular night the plan was to get dinner at one of these eateries, then go see the movie that's reviewed in this issue. The label "fusion" and the fact that I had tried several of the other restaurants in the mall led me to go into the Ozone, a modest little place with some interesting African decor.
In Panama "international cuisine" usually means Purina Gringo Chow. But that's not what the Ozone is about. Here one can order things that originated in cultures from around the world.
And thus the gap that was left when Panama's only African restaurant, the Tchissola that was near the APEDE headquarters, shut down in anticipation of a wrecking crew's ball, has been at least partially filled. You can get several African dishes at the Ozone, along with the Asian, European, Middle Eastern and Latin American offerings.
As in their Senegalese-style chicken, which I ordered. The Angolans and Indonesians, to name another two peoples, do this stuff too. It's chicken cooked in a spicy peanut butter sauce --- not so spicy as to burn the retinas, but hot enough to please a Colon Buay's palate. The student intern with whom I dined ordered a steak dinner, with mushrooms. That seemed pretty good to my glance, and elicited favorable commentary.
This place is a bit more expensive than most Panamanian restaurants. Dinner and drinks for two in our case came to a little more than $30. It was worth it.
And though I still long for a good Ethiopian restaurant in Panama City, I now know where to get a taste of African cuisine when the craving hits.
Editor's note: A production error kept readers from being able to link to the dining page in the last issue of The Panama News until the last few days of the cycle. That's too bad, because it was an archaelogical retrospective on this country's taste for seafood. See that story by clicking here, understanding that it will take you to the previous issue so that to get back to this one you will need to head the back button on your browser rather than use the links on the page that comes up.
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