I met a friend for lunch the other day at Gumbo a Go Go. Honestly, I hadn’t really even heard about this place until he mentioned it to me. I am a fan of Cajun food in general, so of course I was game. This is more of the slow cooked types of Cajun food—things like gumbo (obviously), étouffées, jambalaya, etc. None of the po boy type sandwiches or fried items on their menu.
So I went for a combo plate with 2 items (regular size, they also have a larger size) ($7). On mine, I chose shrimp étouffée and chicken yaya. The étouffée was only okay—it is a lighter colored roux flavored with Cajun seasonings, but this one was a little bland. There were several good sized shrimp in there—I am thinking they threw them in just before serving, probably so they wouldn’t get rubbery, but they didn’t taste very seasoned either. Not sure how to remedy this, maybe crawfish would have been a better choice, because it doesn’t get as rubbery when overcooked, but usually when I order crawfish out, it seems like they don’t put much in, so I thought I would try shrimp this time. Overall though, I think I would skip the étouffée and get something else next time. (To be fair, my friend told me he didn’t think the étouffées were their better items, but I like them so much in general, I wanted to try anyway--and besides that, I am stubborn).
I did really enjoy the chicken yaya. It was shredded chicken slow cooked in a sauce made from tomatoes, vinegar, garlic and several kinds of hot sauce. It was the vinegar in the description that sold me, and rightly so. It was nice and spicy, but still had a great tangy kick from the vinegar—this is exactly the kind of stewed dish that speaks to me because it has that slightly sour balance to the spicy deep flavors that come from lots of hot sauce and lots of time on the stove. All the stew type items are served over rice, and honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of the rice—it was like minute rice to me, you know, where each piece of rice is distinctly individual and has no chewiness to it. I like it to be a little soft. But that is clearly a matter of personal preference.
The seasoned French bread that is served alongside the meals is delicious—it has a garlic butter seasoning on the cut half and is lightly crunchy. It was really good with a bit of the chicken yaya on top. I also had a bite of my friend’s “Datwich” sandwich which was shredded slow cooked turkey in a spicy tomato and beer-based sauce. It was somewhat similar to my chicken yaya but without the vinegar flavor (although it has a deeper flavor than just tomato because of the beer). It was a well seasoned, very tender topping on more of that French bread. He loves it and I can understand how it might be something that a person might crave.
This is a small little place in a strip mall (in the same shopping center as Oakley’s and Stein Mart) and has a very casual feel. The owner/cashier was really friendly and happily told me about the menu items (on a chalkboard, so they change somewhat). The other thing I noticed was that while they had a steady lunch crowd throughout the entire time we were there, there were probably 5 men in there for every 1 woman. Interesting. And hey, if you’re looking for a date ladies, maybe this is your place… J
Gumbo a Go Go
1420 West 86th Street