Miliki, a Nigerian restaurant in Oakland’s Laurel district, offers a rare boon to the adventurous diner: a chance to try authentic West African dishes that are prepared without compromise and are full of bold, spicy, funky flavors. The quintessential dish is egusi, an earthy spinach-and-tomato stew thickened with the ground-up seeds of a kind of African melon, served — as is traditional — with iyan, a ball of sticky dough made from pounded yams. Meanwhile, soul-food lovers will appreciate the rice-and-bean combination — the menu's most conservative option — which comes with tomato-infused jollof rice, fried plantains, smoky slow-cooked beans, stewed greens, and your choice of meat. And, even if you’ve never heard of them, many of the appetizers are delicious crowd-pleasers: suya (beef coated in a paste-like African spice rub), akara (surprisingly light black-eyed-pea fritters), and moin-moin (steamed bean cakes, like Nigerian tamales).

— Luke Tsai


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