South Jamaica, located behind York College, is one of my least favorite places, dirty, garbage strewn vacant lots & abandoned houses, crappy low-class apartment buildings which replaced some of the homes, no grocery stores, dirty delis with little on the shelf, the area is like time forgot it.
But in the midst of the ugliness is a gem, Maima’s Liberian Bistro & Bar, located at 106-38 Guy Brewer Rd (718-206-3538). Specializing in African food, but not just any old African food, Liberian food, in fact it is the only Liberian restaurant in New York City and was featured on Food Networks show Bizarre Foods hosted by Andrew Zimmerman. Maima’s has been around for some time, but was located on the other side of the street further South, but I never really paid attention to it, till they moved about a year ago into their new spot and the outside and the inside caught my attention. It looks like something you would find in Williamsburg or West Village not South Jamaica. It is decorated nicely and has a cool kind of African vibe to it.
Riding my bike, I stopped in to sample the food and what tasty food it was. Maima is the owner of the establishment and many of her family work there. She is character that makes you feel like you are eating at your grandmother’s place. She told me what the specials were, but since they all contained meat (I am a vegetarian), she told me she could make me some fish. I order the whole porgie and had it steamed (you can get it grilled or fried). The big whole fish came with cabbage and a big side of rice with some majorly hot sauce, majorly.
The fish was seasoned perfectly and so moist and the cabbage was out of this world. I wish I would have gotten one of their drinks such as the ginger beer, which I hear is amazing and their desserts. Next time and there will be a next time. You get an amazing amount of food that is very reasonable. My total was only $15.
Maima’s Liberian Bistro is non-pretentious, but cozy with a cool African flair. Maima after serving my food took a seat at one of the tables and watched an African movie on the television, which I got caught up in.
While South Jamaica gets a bad wrap and deservedly so, I felt totally comfortable eating there and even left my bike outside in front of the large window unchained.
While a little off the beaten pack from the subway, about a fifteen minute walk from the E train at Jamaica Center, it is worth checking out, especially since there is no where else you can get Liberian food. The food is worth the trip. Service is no thrills, but very adequate and Maima makes you feel at home.
You can check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/maimasbistro