>> Boutique Samoa Market | Eat the World Los Angeles

Thursday 21 March 2019

Boutique Samoa Market

SAMOA ๐Ÿ‡ผ๐Ÿ‡ธ

๐Ÿ‡ผ๐Ÿ‡ธ SAMOA

EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (08 December 2023) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:
Samoa is the birthplace of the second largest amount of people of Pacific Islander origin in the United States after only Hawai'i, with Los Angeles being the largest community of them on the mainland (Honolulu has more). If that sentence did not have enough fun facts in it for you, it is also worth noting that more Samoans now live in the US than in Samoa. Despite this, they leave a fairly small footprint in our area and it takes some tracking down as some restaurants and steam tables have closed over the years.

One place to find food prepared daily is at the back of a very nondescript strip mall on Western Avenue in Anaheim, once again proving the point that driving too fast is not only dangerous but a good way to miss the good stuff.

I do not drive that tank.

At the time of this visit, the parking lot was pretty deserted. It is unclear if the other businesses have closed or just were inactive on the middle of a weekday, but parking was plentiful. The interior of the shop was equally quiet except for the television, which was the focus of the three people working inside. They must often get stragglers who wander in and leave without buying anything because they left us to our own devices without a greeting.

The shop sells colorful printed shirts, bags of chips and candy from Australia and New Zealand that must be available in Samoa, some fresh produce, and flags and other memorabilia. The main focus for us of course was the steam table and prepared foods, of which they have three sizes of meals depending on how hungry you are.

The already gigantic lunch ($11.99, below) is technically the smallest but feeds three (non-islander noobs) and consists of taro and banana under a sausage (sosisi) on one half with lamb over a base of sapasui, or Samoan-style chow mein on the other.

When we were ready to place an order, the lady behind the lunch counter snapped to attention and was very friendly about answering all the questions posed to her by a complete beginner.

I forgot to ask what was in this particular sosisi, which seems to be just a generic word for sausage and can have other words added to be more descriptive, but it is plump and good. The lamb has the feeling of just having been cooked out back, no parts are removed and it is not processed. It feels soft and silky to bite into the layers of skin, fat, and meat all together.

Chow mein has found its way in various forms to most places around the globe, including the Pacific Islands and Samoa. Here it is called sapasui and uses bean-based clear vermicelli noodles, although the familiar taste of the stir fry is universal.

The other two meal options are built around the lunch version with other additions. The words "Matai" and "Ali'i" are used to describe these and speak about family structures and the system of chiefs. Needless to say this is complicated, but fascinating for anyone who is interested to learn more. As can be imagined, the largest meal is the Ali'i ($19.99, not pictured), or high chief.

One interesting addition to that meal is turkey tail, wildly popular in Samoa and somewhat unhealthy. For this reason, the country tried to ban their import from the United States.

If you end up liking the food well enough, the family can also cater as a big banner advertises inside. If that ends up happening, please invite me.

As we left with our meal and smiles, one man asked if we were from Australia or New Zealand. I suppose a few people come in from those countries and grab some items which might be hard to find in the rest of Los Angeles that were readily available back home.


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