dmbia on Trip Advisor
7 years ago
01/02/2015, 14:42 PM
Let's Try Ethiopian
We came here mostly because we'd seen the place from the light rail. It's right at the Hamline station. There's a wide mix of ethnic restaurants in the area, and we thought it might be fun to try Ethiopian food.
The place is located in a simple cement block building that houses such down-market businesses as an auto parts store. However, they've actually decorated it quite nicely. There are baskets, paintings, photographs, and flowers that set the theme and make for a pleasant setting.
It was a little odd that we were the only customers there, even though it was right at lunchtime on a weekend. It was also odd that there were no napkins or flatware on any of the tables; the waiter had to bring those. We were disappointed that they were out of two key things we wanted--the sambusa appetizers that seem like little savory empanadas and the specialty juice drinks. The waiter implied that it would be some time before those would be available again.
While both my dining companion and I have enjoyed a lot of international cuisines, neither of us had experienced Ethiopian food before. It was unique, and mostly in a good way. Almost all the dishes are various types of stew served atop injera, a spongy flatbread made of a grain native to the horn of Africa. The stews we had (one made of chicken and the other lamb) were outstanding. The menu describes them as "stir fry", but they come across as slow cooked to the point of being thick, hearty, and layered with flavor. The side dishes were also tasty, though it would have been good to choose the vegetables we preferred rather than having pot luck.
I'd have really liked the stew if it were served with rice or pasta. What we honestly didn't care for as much was the injera. On its own, it was tasty (if a bit strange in texture). With the stew placed on top of it, though, it became unpleasantly soggy and literally made me gag. Something else odd about the injera was that it was served cold. I don't know if this is typical in East Africa or not, but it appeared to be fresh from the refrigerator. I'd have preferred it if the bread had been heated. It would also be good to have the injera served on the side, rather than with the stew atop it. I understand that in Ethiopia the stew is served family style, and each diner is given a slab of injera. The diners put the filling inside pieces of injera and roll it up, similar to how fajitas are eaten here. If it were served that way, the diners could control how wet or dry the bread was--and they could also eat the stew on its own if they wanted. The restaurant might want to reconsider how they serve things, just to provide more options for their guests.
I'd recommend people try this restaurant, though you'll need to keep an open mind if you aren't familiar with the cuisine. The prices are very reasonable, and it's certainly an experience you won't get next door at Subway.