An assortment of vegetarian and meat tibs and wots at Ethiopian Love are served atop and with rolls of injera bread, a sourdough flatbread. The injera is used in place of silverware to scoop up the various dishes.
By Nadine Kam |
Having grown up not far from New York City with access to countless options of stellar cuisine from around the world, I’m embarrassed to admit I had never tried Ethiopian food until I moved to Honolulu. I didn’t know what I was missing.
Ethiopian Love, which began (strangely) as a pop-up in a ramen shop on Kapahulu Avenue, is a refreshing addition to the city’s food scene. Owner Abraham Samuel always welcomes diners to his Chinatown restaurant with a warm smile and is happy to explain the traditional dishes and how to eat them. (Hint: You won’t find silverware on the tables.)
Exposed brick walls and tables adorned with black tablecloths give the interior space a modern, yet rustic, feel. But I like to sit outside at a table in the courtyard amid the bamboo trees. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention there can be a bit of a wait either to be seated or to be served from the kitchen. But the food is worth it.
Start with the sambussas, flaky savory pastries stuffed with brown lentils and onion; a spicy dipping sauce really elevates them. Samuel’s dishes are redolent with aromatic spices, from the awaze tibs, spicy beef sauteed with caramelized onions, tomato, bell pepper and berbere (Ethiopian spice blend) to the lamb alicha, turmeric-braised lamb with onion, garlic and kebe (spiced butter).
It’s hard to go wrong here. All of the entrees are served with kik alicha wot, a yellow split-pea stew. House-made injera, a slightly spongy sourdough-risen flatbread made with teff flour, lines the plates and is served in neat little rolls for you to tear up and mop up all that goodness. Another bonus: It’s BYOB.
1112 Smith St.; 725-7197
Lunch, dinner. $$
Source: Star Advertiser
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