Thursday, July 24, 2008
A Taste of Ethiopia in San Jose
Pics: Courtesy of Zeni
Where is Ethiopia and what kind of food do they eat there were questions that were on my mind before K and I decided to try out this Ethiopian restaurant called Zeni in San Jose last Friday night. While we entered the restaurant at 7:15 and found that the place was a small, 2 roomed restaurant that (resembled a fast food place) had a combination of Ethiopian cultural seating arrangements on one room and regular tables on the other room. While there were 4 other couples waiting before us to be seated, we thought we should get a table in 30 minutes. But, we weren't seated until almost 8:00 or later, a good 45 minute wait time. While we were waiting, we noticed that the food was taking time to be delivered to the tables, causing the diners to linger more at their tables and hence a longer wait time.
We observed that the people who dined were mostly Ethiopians and extremely tall folks and several Indians were also present. I guess the reason for that would be that the menu had several vegetarian options and once we tasted the food, our suspicions were confirmed.
We started with the sambussa appetizer (which is a combination of samosa and puff) that was hot and tasted delicious with the spicy sauce that accompanied it. While, the main entree comprised of vegetarian dishes like Gomen Kitfo, Yemisir Wot, Kik Alticha, Ye-timatim fitfit, foule etc. Sound like gibberish? Well, all of them fortunately had explanations in English as to what the constitutents of the dish were and while I ordered the Yemisir Wot which is a pureed split red lentil dish cooked in a spicy sauce, K sampled the Atakilt Wot which was a curry comprised of boiled cabbage, carrot and potatoes. Both our dishes complimented well with each other and were served on a giant size dosa like dish called Injera which they say is a thousand year old Ethiopian unleaved bread. The only thing that I disliked was the waitress served both our curries on the same giant injera and K and I had to tear the bread and eat off of the same big plate, not the most hygienic eating practice.
The restaurant had a key board player who played some great tunes in the background which complimented the eating experience. The restaurant owner an Ethiopian dude came around most tables enquiring about the quality of the food etc. and also sold some of the dosa (injera bread) to folks who raved about its taste.
Zeni is a moderatly priced cuisine that caters to the Indian taste buds thoroughly.