How many of my loyal readers have sampled the cuisine of the African country of Ethiopia? For the first 66 years of my life, I'd never had the chance to enjoy Ethiopian cuisine, but I'd always wanted to give it a try, as I enjoy diversity, especially when it comes to food. My "foodie" friend and dining partner, Linda Barrere and I had been talking about dining at an Ethiopian restaurant for several months, and it all came together on January 18, 2019, when she and I enjoyed a late lunch at Abyssinia Restaurant, in the Arden Arcade area of Sacramento.
As with all of reviews that I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, January 18, 2019, and we've arrived at Abyssinia Restaurant, located on Fulton Ave, in the Arden Arcade district of Sacramento, to try Ethiopian cuisine for the first time.
Today is not only my first time to enjoy the cuisine of Ethiopia, but it's my first new restaurant to enjoy and write-up for the year 2019. Woo hoo!!!
Photo: You enter the restaurant, and you're greeted to a large dining room with tables, and no booths. On this mid-Friday afternoon, the restaurant is lightly seated, which is the way we like it, when we're taking photos and posting a write-up.
Photo: The menu is HUGE, as it features six pages, covering just about everything about Ethiopian cuisine. This is just one page of the menu... Since today was the first time my friend and I had ever enjoyed Ethiopian cuisine, we went with the "Grand Sampler," which seemed like the place to start.
Although both my friend and I had done some "yelping" and "googling" before visiting Abyssina, we let our friendly waiter know we were novices when it came to Ethiopian cuisine, and we really didn't know what to expect. He recommended the "Grand Sampler" which worked with us.
Photo: After placing our order for the "Grand Sampler," I had the time to wander around the restaurant, and took a photo of the counter at the rear of the restaurant, where they sell injera - Ethiopian flat bread - baked in the restaurant, and other great things to eat.
Photo: Our friendly server places a bottle of "Walia" beer, a beer brewed in Ethiopia, on our table with a smile. "Walia" happens to be the de facto standard beer in Ethiopia, according to our server. As an aside, I had absolutely no idea what was the favorite beer in Ethiopia, so I just asked our server, and I was rewarded with a "Walia."
Photo: Less than 15 minutes after placing our order - I'd only enjoyed a couple sips of my "Walia" beer - our order arrived with a smile from both our friendly server, and my friend. Note the plate of injera bread our server is placing her hands on... At first, Linda and I were baffled at the bread, as we'd never seen anything like it before and really didn't know what to make of it. But, then I recalled my "googling" and I remembered injera flat bread is, basically, the main course in an Ethiopian meal, as everything else on the meal is built around the bread.
Injera Ethiopian flat bread is similar to a French crepe, as the bread is flat, it has a porous texture, and it's used to scoop up the sauces and everything else with the Ethiopian meal. Don't look for utensils, such as a knife or a fork, as you use injera as your utensil.
Photo: My friend and dining companion, Linda and I, smile, as we're ready to enjoy a delicious and filling meal for two, the "Grand Sampler."
Photo: Since Linda and I were total novices to Ethiopian cuisine, we ordered the "Grand Sampler" which is a plate for two, that's meant to be shared between two hungry diners. Don't look for individual plates or utensils, as that isn't the way it's done in Ethiopia. You just grab what you want, with your fingers, and eat and share from the big plate, and enjoy your food, in a truly family-style way. Good thing Linda and I are friends!
As my mother used to say, "fingers were made before forks," and that saying truly applies to today's delicious lunch. We were definitely glad to have a plentiful supply of paper napkins, as they came in handy, although our lunch was finger lickin' delicious.
The menu describes our "Grand Sampler" as "Samples of Doro Wot, Kay Wot, Alicha Wot, Minchet Abish, Misir Wot, Kik Alicha, Atkilt Wot and Gromen Wot." Whew! That's a mouthful if you're not familiar with the cuisine, but since I'd done a bit of "googling" before our visit, I had a pretty good idea of what each dish was, but I really didn't know what to expect.
OK the center of the plate is "Doro Wot," which is the most popular chicken dish served in Ethiopia. Since this was a meal for two, I can't explain why we only got one chicken leg. Anyway, we shared the leg and loved it, as it was both delicious and spicy.
Moving directly above the chicken leg, and going clockwise you'll find: Kay Wot, spicy beef stew, Alicha Wot, venison curry (although we didn't really taste much curry,) Misir Wot, red lentil stew, Minchot Abish, ground beef, Atkilt Wot, Ethiopian cabbage and potatoes, Gomen Wot, Ethiopian collard greens and Kik Alicha, yellow split pea stew, to round out the plate. Amazing!
The menu doesn't say it, and the photo doesn't show it clearly, but the entire meal rests on a thin layer of injera flat bread, which soaks up the juices of each entree, and truly makes up the edible "foundation" of the amazing meal.
We loved everything! Now I have "sampled" Ethiopian cuisine and I must say that I love it. Mmmmmmm... GOOD!
Photo: Linda tears off a piece of injera bread, as she gets ready to start on our meal. At first both she and I were a little confused about how to eat the meal - with the absence of utensils and plates - but we soon figured it out and truly enjoyed our delicious lunch at Abyssina Restaurant, in Sacramento.
My "foodie" friend and dining partner, Linda and I had never enjoyed Ethiopian cuisine before today, and we had absolutely no idea of what to expect. She and I came to the same conclusion in that the food served at Abyssinia Restaurant - and Ethiopian cuisine in general - is amazing delicious, and if we were to compare it to any other cuisine, we both agreed there were many similarities to Indian cuisine, but without curry.
Now that I've sampled Ethiopian cuisine, I can say that it's both delicious and exotic. At Abyssinia Restaurant, the food is delicious, the staff is super friendly, the service is fast, and the dining room is comfortable. Now that I've "sampled" the cuisine of Ethiopia, I plan to return to enjoy more...
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