5030 50th Street, Yellowknife, NWT
Date of Visit – April, 2017
I have never eaten any Ethiopian food before but when I told my wife I might have an opportunity to try out an Ethiopian restaurant while passing through Yellowknife recently, she insisted that I give it a try. Moreover, a friend of mine actually had a chance to visit Zehabesha a few weeks before me and gave the place such a great review I knew I couldn’t pass on the opportunity…
The interior of the restaurant is fairly small, seating about 30 or so, and is quite plainly finished other than for a few objects of Ethiopian costume and ornaments hung here and there. The service was generally good, although the clearing away of tables was a little slow, but the sole waiter managed fairly well even though I arrived during the height of the lunch rush. He was pleasant and friendly, as well as quite happy to discuss the menu, and I learned from him that the name ‘Zehabesha’ means ‘the people’.
The menu is not extensive and mainly features Ethiopian cuisine except for a couple of items such as Greek Salad, Caesar Salad, and a few other things. They also do a platter called the Mahiberawi Combination that includes a sampling of all the vegetarian and non-vegetarian Ethiopian dishes on offer. Traditionally, Ethiopian cuisine is eaten with the fingers and, though I was asked if I would like a knife and fork, I decided to go for the proper experience and declined.
For my meal, I chose Tibs, which is described on the menu as “Spicy pulled beef or goat fried with onion, pepper, rosemary, Jalapeno and Ethiopian butter”. I opted for the goat and, despite the description, it was not ‘pulled’ meat, but rather good, meaty chunks of goat meat on the bone. With this selection, you can choose either rice of Injera (an Ethiopian bread), and it comes with a salad and one of two spice condiments on the side. The latter two are Mitimita and Awazie, and while I would have liked to have tried both, only the Mitmita was available that day. I chose Injera over the rice and it was a great choice for sopping up the very nice sauce that smothered the tender meat. The salad was basically a simple mix of lettuce, tomato and cucumber in a light vinaigrette and it made a nice light accompaniment to the heavier meat dish.
This is the Injera. It is basically made from a sourdough bread composed of Teff (a grassy seed grown in Eritrea and Ethiopia), and Barley, which is risen before being cooked on a clay platter or griddle. It has a spongy texture and it is very filling, especially as the one I was served would have been a good foot or so in diameter when unfolded. The basic idea is to tear off pieces and use this to scoop up bits of the main meal, then sop up any sauce. I liked the flavor and the texture very much.
Here is the Mitimita. The menu does not exactly list the ingredients but describes it as containing ‘such spices as chili peppers, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, cumin, and ginger’. I think the blend they serve here would be great sprinkled on rice but I very much enjoyed dipping my meat filled bits of Injera into it just before popping it into my mouth. It was not especially hot, but rather sweetly aromatic and well-balanced.
Overall, I very much enjoyed my meal here, especially as it was a novel experience for me and I rate the place at a solid 4 out of 5.