Many West African countries are well-represented by restaurants in New York; Liberia is not. Apart from an informal outdoor market in Staten Island that surely is dependent on good weather, Maima's might be the city's sole public venue for Liberian food. As of mid-January 2013 this new location, across the street from the restaurant's old digs, still sported the awning of a departed beauty parlor. The interior has already been made over, however — it's brighter and much larger, with room for three dozen diners and the prospect of more seats in the backyard, come summer — and the kitchen is in full swing.
Two standouts are palm butter ($11) and palava sauce ($11), stewlike dishes that incorporate various meats on the bone or seafood in the shell. (Yes, many napkins will be needed.) The first features the oily extract of palm nuts; the second, a leafy green vegetable that also adds color and flavor to chuck rice ($3).
Also shown, from both the current and previous incarnations of the restaurant: pepper chicken ($8) with a side of attieke ($2), grated fermented cassava with a texture like fine couscous, here flavored with chicken bouillon; pepper soup ($11) with fufu and condiments including okra, chili pepper, and a rich sesame paste; a whole red snapper (priced by size); pepper shrimp ($12); chicken gravy ($9); fried plantains ($2); fishball peanut soup ($12). This last dish was enriched both by a peanutty sauce and by bluefish that flavored the coarse-textured fishballs. There were plenty of 'em.
Maima's Liberian Bistro
106-38 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. (South Rd.-107th Ave.), Jamaica, Queens