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LA Food Truck Focuses on the Spice-Filled Flavors of Cameroon

Eater LA | LA’s food truck fleet has never been deeper or more diverse, which mirrors the sprawling city’s restaurant scene. Regional Mexican delicacies are becoming more commonplace, and different concepts now draw inspiration from almost every continent. Still, African Chop stands out for many reasons, with two Cameroonians serving a focused menu of “gourmet African food” from a truck that launched in summer 2018.


Hector Tantoh brings an MBA and powerful childhood memories to his food truck partnership
| Joshua Lurie

Jollof rice is a hotly debated dish across West Africa and supposedly originated in Senegal. This fragrant tomato-stained rice dish also incorporates onion, an array of spices, and broth. “The biggest thing is that we do not use a chicken or beef broth in the base sauce for the rice,” co-owner Hector Tantoh says. “We chose instead to combine all the fresh herbs/ingredients to make our base for two reasons. The flavor profile is fresh and different, and we can serve the same rice to vegans and non-vegans alike.” African Chop also uses jasmine rice versus basmati or parboiled rice.

African Chop’s tight menu spotlights fluffy jollof rice in four combo plates that also include judiciously sweet fried plantains and sautéed spinach. Tantoh said that focus on a small menu is important for consistency’s sake. That’s why customers won’t find other more elaborate dishes he grew up eating like ndolé, his country’s iconic bitterleaf soup.

Tantoh grew up in Doula, a coastal city in Cameroon. He earned an MBA at Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business and moved to Los Angeles in 2016 to develop a business idea that’s currently on hold. When he isn’t working on African Chop, Tantoh also co-pilots Grapevite, a start-up that lets people “find out what their friends are doing ‘BEFORE’ they do it so they can join in, instead of finding out after the fact on social media.”


African Chop’s fish combo stars surprisingly delectable mackerel
| Joshua Lurie

For African Chop, he teamed up with Opportune Akendeu, a fellow Cameroonian who moved to Los Angeles as a teenager. Together they now serve the food of their youth, meeting through a mutual friend and have since become so close that they now refer to teach other as brother and sister. Akendeu initially suggested the idea of doing a food truck and began catering operations in August 2017. They also cooked at local events like Ankara Festival and the Afro Music Festival. In August 2018, they launched this truck. Fittingly, the truck had recently parked next to some of the world’s leading tech companies along Santa Monica’s Pennsylvania Avenue.

Fish combo ($13) features remarkably juicy, with wild-caught mackerel served atop jollof rice. Tantoh won’t give all of their secrets away, but they dry-rub the meaty fish and brush it with seasoning before broiling bone-in cross-sections in an oven. He grew up eating charcoal grilled mackerel in Cameroon, but that cooking method isn’t very practical on a food truck.


African Chop adapted a popular street food called suya beef for one combo plate
| Joshua Lurie

Suya (beef) ($13) is the other standout combo starring spicy sliced chuck. In Cameroon, suya chunks are typically skewered on a stick and grilled over coal or wood fire. African Chop opts for an oven. They source a powder from back home that combines chiles, roasted peanuts, and crushed spices. They start by treating beef to the same dry rub they use on fish, then adding suya spice blend half-way through the cooking process to permeate the tender meat. To take advantage of the jollof rice bed, African Shop’s suya is a bit saucier than normal.

African Chop also sells a chicken combo with two hormone- and antibiotic-free legs and a vegan combo starring earthy black beans. No matter the plate, Tantoh prides African Chop on using only fresh ingredients, avoiding cans, butter, dairy, and lard for levity’s sake.

Bonus: they let customers add two puff-puffs to each combo for a buck. These springy deep-fried beignet balls are pretty addictive, and available with or without powdered sugar.

Customers who ask for their food spicy will get a tangy, punchy sauce made with blended habanero peppers, onions, and bell peppers that are reduced and seasoned. Soon enough, African Chop’s owners plan to sell bottles of the sauce from the truck.

Cameroon is a mid-sized African country, with just 25 million people by one estimate. Considering that just under 1,500 Cameroonians live in Los Angeles, it was a long-shot that African Chop even exists. That their food is so good is even more remarkable.

In West Africa, chop means to “eat” or “dine.” Since African Chop is serving crave-worthy food that should appeal to pretty much anybody — not just homesick Cameroonians — hopefully awareness will rise for that term and the cuisine.

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18 comments

  1. what a brilliant mind you got there bro. more courage for such a wonderful concept.

  2. CONGRATULATION.!! THIS YOUNGMEN HAVE PEOPLE AT HEART. COOKING IS AN ART YET CONTINOUS COOKING ON LARGE SCALE IS A SPECIAL CARE FOR THE CONSUMERS. ….(feed my sheep) Go ahead.

  3. great job,we must invest time and money ,bringing together competence and talent to document all african cuisine,structure and give it the exceptional esthetic appeal it deserves.it is a domain that,if organised and structured can employ more than two hundred million africans directly.i have taken time to study japanese,chinese,and korean cuisine to understand what they did to popularise their cuisine.my conclusion is that a lot of human effort was made to reduce waiting time,improve esthetics,conservation,and perfect hygienic conditions,especially for japanese cuisine.china has 8 top chinese cuisine schools.we should have more because we have more varieties.the same appraoch apply in the domain of african medicine,and architecture.

    • Hahahahahaha, Ni Bah…we have to supply him some banana leaves for him to serve that jallof and fried mololo on it.

      However, I would suggest he includes some bread and piri-piri sardine for breakfast on the menu tho—it is known to be a big customer-booster…

  4. Btavo!
    The positiv diasporan we like to se and hear more about!
    Not the loosers parading this forum day in and day out shouting ‘Ambazonia ‘ ‘Ambazonia ‘…
    Some have been out of Cameroon for decades, and have nothing to show of, beside their ‘sophisticated ‘ English!
    Hihihi le Ndem quand tu nous tiens….
    Bravo encore Campatriote!

  5. @ Bikutsi retired sl*t. They are from the same region you put up for purchase. Now go steal state funds. Tif thing

  6. serious minded Cameroonian! I love to see stuff like these on the internet. But I have a question bothering me. Why can’t we get to succeed in business back home?

  7. The Equatorial baboon who thinks she knows better than anybody else will always want to have the last word.
    Let me borrow “Ngia Lum’s” words…..’Low IQ’

    Inferiority complex shall kill you.

  8. ZERO VIVRE ENSEMBLE

    **** ETOUDI MARIE ANTOINETTE (EMA) ****

    EMA is the de facto President of LRC since her Louis XVI is terminally ill.

    PROOFS

    1. AXIS OF EVIL

    Ngoh Ngoh, Bidoung Mkwatt and Yang Philemon were considered by LRC media outlets as the AXE DU MAL. This is so because they, jointly and severally embezzled part of the money for AFCON19. Their crimes transformed LRC into the laughing stock of the world.
    The greatest paradox that defies all human logic is that EMA PROMOTED Ngoh and Bidoung and PUNISHED only Yang. The reason is simple to understand: Ngoh and Bidoung are related to EMA. Yang is a second class citizen. The fate of Yang should serve as a warning to citizens of SC.
    The latter is now a refugee in LRC. He cannot return to the land of his ancestors for fear of Amba boys.

  9. ZERO VIVRE ENSEMBLE

    2. Director of ENAM

    In ordert o consolidate her grip on power, EMA appointed her 32 years old cousin as Director of this prestigious school.
    The crux of the matter is that EMA appointed her cousin with ZERO experience to lord it over world-renowned Professors, such as Professor Pondi et al.

    3. Director of Civil cabinet

    EMA void NEVER to return to LRC if Belinga Eboutou was not sacked. Louis XVI obliged. EMA then appointed her confidant, Mvondo Ayolo, to replace him.
    Eboutou has to flee to Canada with his family for fear of EMA.

    4. Major Projects

    The country now borrows money to execute major projects at breakneck speed in the hometown of EMA, Nanga Eboko

  10. ZERO VIVRE ENSEMBLE

    5. Nanga Ebokos versus Bulus

    EMA has triggered a succession battle between Nanga Ebokos and the Bulus. LRC media outlets are having a field day on this battle.

  11. Good initiative. Thums up.

  12. ZERO VIVRE ENSEMBLE

    **** BREAKING NEWS ****

    Nigeria Federal High Court has ruled, today the 01.03.2019, that the Nera12 fundamental rights were violated. Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and company should be rehabilitated and compensated with the sum of 5milion Naira each.

  13. #lareupbliqeducameroun are # kidnappers they have to return ambazonian leaders to Nigeria. They committed and acted illiigally

  14. From the Federal high court in Abuja Cameroun is going to bring back kidnapped ambazonian leaders

  15. Bravo to our compatriots.
    Your success in the diaspora is purely based on hardwork and merit.
    The question for the low IQ Equatorial Africans has always been how these same people succeed in Europe, in Asia, in America but are so unable to succeed in their country of birth?
    The answer is simple where civilize societies create a merit based system to reward success, Equatorial Africans have perfected a tribal and language system to reward incompetence.
    So anyone who is intelligent and hardworking usually succeeds away from the tribal Napoleonic inspired policies of current Cameroon.
    No amount of screaming will change this fact.
    Jeff Bezos of Amazon is successful because of talent and hardwork in a system that rewards work and talent not tribes.
    Who is fooling who!
    100yrs behind!

  16. Nigeria’s judiciary, like that of the US, has done the right thing to let the world know that no citizen is above the law, not even the one laying claims to having been elected by popular mandate. It was illegal to abduct and transfer Julius Ayuk Table to Cameroon.
    The abduction of citizens from a sovereign nation to another, in violation of international treaties that bind them both, was a sad, condemnable act that diminished the respect of the entire nation and its democratic institutions. Banana republic and their primitive, subservience to outside forces must not be allowed to tarnish Nigeria!

  17. Congratulations [email protected] stick to this one its a winner, the more you source your ingredients from Cameroon ,the more your customers will return to you .You will attract more customers by publicising this fact.

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