I am so passionate about street food and I wanted to discover as many hidden traditions in Algeria as time allows me during my three-day trip. Kouba, one of the areas of Alger, the capital of Algeria, has a lot hidden in its tight streets. In Old Kouba is Le Petit Navire, a two-door restaurant filled with dozens of walking people eating on the sidewalk. Yes, on the sidewalk, we stood up around one of the high tables and plunged into those tasty plates filled with the stories of the sea.
Nassim, the owner, felt my amazement and accepted that I take as many pictures as I wanted even though the place is not the cleanest around. Whatever, I was so happy, I just wanted to taste each and every one of those beautiful plates. I was expecting to eat a sandwich but here, the trend is to enjoy it as is the old fashioned way. A beehive was working like an army. Three cooks, three waiters and the owner produce an huge quantity of plates without making anyone wait more than 3 minutes. Frying, grilling, battering, presenting is a quick game they do every day.
Two frying pans, a counter, a bar, a couple of tables and a sink is all what this place has to offer. Order, eat and leave. Others are waiting.
- Tuna Salad 100DA = 1,25$
- Calamari 600DA = 7,53$
- Shrimps 600DA = 8,78$
- Espadon 700DA
- Rouget 500DA = 6,27$
- Merlot 700 DA
It was my third day in Algeria, in a country where I tried the most tasteless food in places that were recommended to be good in town. If fine restaurants serve you S... for food, what would their street food be like?
I was in shock! The food I ate today is just not great but awesome!
- The tuna salad is just great. Black and green olives, red marinated tuna, tomato, lettuce, avocado and tiny slices of red lettuce are enough to be perfectly marinated in a tomato sauce producing a fine culinary wonder. Delicious!
- The bread is even better than the one I had at La Veranda yesterday, a restaurant that made us pay $40/ person for horrible food.
- The Calamari plate is so generous and worth much more than 6€. In red sauce, hot and cooked is a mix of calamari slices that melt in your mouth like sugar cubes. A preparation a few fine dining restaurants know how to execute.
- The little tiny shrimps plate is mouthwatering. I can eat five more pleasantly. I know that it doesn't look appealing, but the taste is just great.
- The Merlot (hake) and Rouget (red mullet) fried fish plates are good. Not crunchy from the outside but superbly cooked from the inside. Fresh, clean and tasty without any pretension.
- Here is the masterpiece: Espadon (swordfish) is just incredible. I ordered it last night at La Veranda and it was simply inedible where I closed my eyes and thought I was eating dried chicken. No flavor and no taste whatsoever. Where as today's street Espadon is an award winning dish. Soft, tender, juicy, tasty, perfectly seasoned and good looking. Impressive!
A message to keep in mind:
" Expensive places are not the best. Search, ask and discover. You might find the best food the earth has to offer." Maguy in Batroun is a simple clear example from Lebanon. The adventure didn't stop here as I also discovered their local Soft Drink - Selecto. "Selecto" is the local soft drink. Sweet with an apple and caramel flavor. Although Selecto is black in color, it has nothing to do with the Coca-Cola taste. A must try, at least once.
What a day! What a pleasant adventure which finally made me smile. Three days already passed and here was the first time I eat "decent". Thank you Khaled, I appreciate your time and company.