One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be more open minded, and to try new things. Tonight, I had a break through and accomplished both! I ate food with my hands AND I had no idea how the food was prepared.
When Mike’s sister, Maria posed the idea of Ethiopian food for dinner, I thought….WOW! That is COOL! I know that the old Jenn would had have kindly declined and suggested a Korean or Japanese alternative. However the NEW 2011 Jenn was excited to embark upon a new experience. When we arrived, the place was hopping! I could not believe this place was SO packed for a Monday night! Every seat was taken! We had passed by a Thai and Korean restaurant earlier, and there were people eating- but nothing like this!
I looked around and everyone seemed to be enjoying the food. I think that this is a family owned restaurant, the staff was VERY friendly and helpful. Everything seemed very authentic from the decor, food, and music. The menu listed the Ethiopian dishes, however, there were no pictures. This made it hard for me as I had no idea what the menu consisted of. There were dishes listed but no descriptions of what ingredients were included. But….dun.. dun-ah…a.. DAHH…
HOORAY! Maria saved the day and knew what to order! She taught me some great tips when ordering Ethiopian Cuisine:
First, you must know that when eating Ethiopian food, you will be eating it like the locals. Which means, you will be eating with your hands. (Their bathrooms by the way rate a 4 out of 5 stars in my book!) Most of their dishes are made up of breads and stews/ sauces. Ethiopian dishes have a staple starch for each meal called Wat. Wat is the equivalent to rice for Asians. It it light to the touch, almost like a pancake of crepe texture, however, by itself it tastes a bit like sourdough bread. You wrap the veggies and chicken with the wat and eat it like a mini taco. Another way of eating the wat is soaking it in the sauces or stews for optimal flavor. The best thing about Ethiopian food is that anything goes, you can eat it however you like.
We had a variety of tibs on our tray. The tray was the size of an extra large pizza from Papa Johns! Tibs is served on a hot dish with vegetables/salad mixed in. Meat can also be added. Tonight, we had three types of protein:
1. Mike’s mom wanted Lamb. I personally am not a huge fan of eating cute animals, but I did try this (because I am trying to be more open to everything) and it was tasty, the lamb was tender and when the Sakatas got to it- it was gone!
2. There was two types of chicken dishes but they were prepared differently. One was prepared stir fry style with diced pieces of chicken, sautéed onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers. The second dish had a thicker brown sauce that reminded me of chicken shoyu, it was full of flavor, and easy to eat because the meat just fell off the bone.
3. Finally, my two favorite dishes were the chickpea dish (featured in the photo above: yellow). It reminded me to hummus with the texture and flavor. The second one was the
Overall, if you are looking for good food and fun, this place is it! Be prepared to get close to those you are dining with because you do eat with your hands and it does get a little messy! But messy is fun right?
NOTE: Ethiopian food is on the saltier side and a bit heavy with sauces and lots of bread. I was told that the Ethiopian beer went well with the meal, so that is something that one must try!
NOTE: Photo credit to Yelp.com (my photos are processing while we speak)
366 Grand Ave
(between Perkins St & Ellita Ave)
Oakland, CA 94610