date completed: 12 October 2013
I’m getting off to a great start with this pet project of mine. :D My awesome friend, Stella, had my list in mind and treated me to a belated birthday dinner at Ethiopian House! I wasn’t at all familiar with any African cuisine, and it was both our first times trying Ethiopian.
The restaurant is wonderfully decorated. I love getting a sense of the mood of the place, and this one is awesome. Stella did the research and this place is one of the best in Toronto for Ethiopian food, conveniently located at 4 Irwin Avenue within walking distance from the Bloor-Yonge subway station. The menu also offered a written introduction to Ethiopian dining for newbies like us – helpful and informative!
On the recommendation of our waitress, we ordered one meat-based serving and one vegetable-based serving. We got Bayaaynatu ($14.95) and Vegetable Bayaanatu ($13.95), which were essentially small portions of a bunch of other things on the menu – we basically turned it into a sampling meal.
Our meal was served with injera bread, the traditional Ethiopian flatbread. It was really spongy and pancake-like. We tore the bread into pieces and used them to wrap and grab the sauces and salads. It also gets very filling very fast, and we couldn’t finish the entire serving of injera given to us.
And then we dug in! While nothing blew my mind or anything, I liked everything we got. I particularly enjoyed the sauce ones on the right and the kale on the left of the above picture. The way the cabbage and beef were cooked actually reminded me of Filipino-style dishes. My immediate impression was to compare it to Indian cuisine with naan bread and curry, but of course injera and naan are nothing alike and the spices used are totally different.
I think we cleaned it up pretty well! We got so full towards the end that we left the injera bread and just started picking at everything else. It’s a lot of fun when there’s no cutlery and you’re using only your hands to eat. :D
After our meal, we got served popcorn and enjoyed a traditional coffee ceremony ($14.00). Neither of us are big coffee drinkers, but I was really eager to try this with our meal. We ordered it beforehand since it takes half an hour to prepare. The frankincense aroma was nice, but got overpowering and the entire room was smoky after just a few minutes.
As expected, the coffee was very strong and the few cups I had kept me up all night. I’m glad I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep in before I had to tutor the next day, haha.
We walked around and did some window shopping, and watched the Korean movie The Face Reader (a spontaneous decision I’m glad we made – great movie!) that was randomly being shown at the AMC on Dundas. So it was a pretty awesome and international evening overall :P , and I’m greatly filled with the warm fuzzies. :)