WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - Prior to health department closures the week of September 14th an exotic menu item filled with insects in one restaurant and flies infesting another were the last thing loyal customers expected.
Amara Sumah humbly acknowledged the infestation of his signature tola ingredient at the Shaw neighborhood West African restaurant bearing his name.
"Mistakes happen and we apologize for that anyway," Sumah said. "Things like that happen. You know, small business person.
He says the infested ingredient, tola, is key to his signature chicken and beef of the same name.
Tola is a West African nut crushed into a powder for an okra-like flavored sauce.
Inspectors shut Sumah down September 12th saying the tola was infested with insects.
For two decades at Sumahs's on 7th Street Northwest, Suma has dished out West African fare which rates four and five stars on many reviews online
"I'm proud of all the dishes here," Sumah said, but acknowledged things had gone wrong when inspectors found roaches in the kitchen and insects in the tola. " Well, just by, things like that happen. You know, small business person."
He's since scrubbed the stainless steel, re-glued the drains, and called in an exterminator.
"He had to bomb the whole place," Sumah said. "Bombed the whole restaurant."
He allowed us to inspect his kitchen where we observed no roaches and tools still out to continue making improvements.
In Oxon Hill, Prince George's County officials suspended food operations inside a book store.
Officials say Cartel Books, 5011-B Indian Head Highway, was selling food without a license.
In Germantown inspectors closed Hunan Village, 13539 Clopper Road citing a trapped dead mouse, excessive flies, and rodent feces in the salt.
Restaurant workers invited us into Hunan Village and showed us the results of two days worth of cleaning.
We observed no mice feces and only one fly.
All of the eateries cleaned up to the point where they passed re-inspections and they're back in business.
If you know of health risks, corruption or government waste, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
We live Facebook and Tweet while we make surprise visits to restaurants with closure violations. You can follow along at Facebook.com/russptacek or Twitter.com/russptacek.