Not long ago Heather wrote that she wanted to make 2011 the year of the “at home tourist.” She was stoked when I told her I was “in” on the idea, but that was only because she didn’t realize that, in addition to accompanying her to girlie tourist stops like beaches and shopping districts, I was going to make her go to some guy’s tourist stops too!
One of the neat things about Los Angeles is the tremendous diversity of people, and pretty much every ethnic group has its own “town.” There’s Chinatown, Japan Town, Korea Town, Thai Town, Filipino Town, Little Armenia, Little Persia, Little India… the list goes on and on. I’ve pretty much visited and ate a meal in all of them over the years except for one – Little Ethiopia.
Why you may ask? Well, when I was younger I never went because, whenever any of my friends suggested we eat there, someone would make a stupid joke like, “Ethiopian food? What do they serve you there? An empty plate?” Unfortunately, by the time I matured and realized that Ethiopia had an amazingly complex cuisine, I had moved across town and could never muster the courage to fight L.A. traffic for an hour or more each way. That all changed, however, with the year of the “at home tourist!”
Heather, Annie, and I began our excursion by walking along the many stores and markets on Fairfax Avenue that sell items unique to Ethiopia, then slipped into an Ethiopian restaurant not far away called Awash. The first thing that hit us was the overwhelming smell of different spices and flavors. The second was the decor which was made up of cool African Art like the this:
Our waitress was very kind and warned us upon sitting down that the portions were very large, so we ended up ordering two items – Zilzil Tibbs and the Vegetarian Combo.
Annie and I were very excited:
Finally the food came and I found out the coolest thing about the food – you eat it with your hands!!! (Heather was less pleased.)
Actually, the eating with your hands part isn’t totally true. You use this delicious spongy bread to pick up your meal. Annie was wary of the bread at first:
The vegetarian plate soon arrived and it was amazing.
It came on a bed of the before-mentioned bread, and had seven different types of vegetarian delights: hot peppers stuffed with tomatoes and onions, a Mediterranean style salad, sauteed spinach, creamed corn, and four very interesting curry-like delights made of lentils and yellow split peas – one made of veggies, one that tasted like Japanese wasabi (!), and two that would be at home in an Indian restaurant. Really, if you are vegetarian, Ethiopian food would be great for you.
But that’s not to say that meat eaters won’t be happy.
Our second dish – the Zilzil Tibbs – was equally as delicious. If you like your meat well done and very flavorful, this is your meal.
All in all we had a great trip to Little Ethiopia even if Heather had to bust out her pack of wipes to clean up Annie, and okay, me, too!