Monday, March 31, 2008

Say good-bye to the same ole same ole. While we were in LA on Friday we decided to have some Ethiopian food in Little Ethiopia. Tofu chose Ethiopian since he has never been, he's so sheltered! I will have to keep taking him up to LA to show him what the world has to offer in food! Next time I will bring Mango & Coconut up so we can all go to Moroccan.
We went in a group of 6 to Messob. For half the group, this was definitely a first time experience for them. Earlier in the day we called ahead and reserved a table, but it didn't do any good. We arrived at 8:30PM and the place was packed. More and more people came in after us. The interior was very dimly lit. There was a lot of traditional settings and furniture. It's a very quaint atmosphere. One good thing that people might not know about this place was that it offered free valet parking.
One of my friends decided to try the Honey Wine upon my recommendation. I have had it at other Ethiopian restaurants and it really reminds me of the Hungarian wine, Tokaiji, but stronger. At Messob they offered their own homemade mead and it was different from what I had the first time. I agree that it tasted more like a honey rice wine, closer to Asian wines. I wouldn't recommend their honey wine.
We ordered three combination platters from the dinner menu and we all chose the same thing. The three items were Doro Wot, Siga Wot, and Yebeg Siga Alicha. This also includes a salad and Tomato Fit Fit, which I believe was tomatoes tossed in Injera. There are no utensils given and everything is eaten by hand. All of these dishes come with the Injera, which you use to pick up and eat all the food. It's a spongy flat unleavened bread that's usually prepared from Teff (Ethiopian grown grain), barley, corn, and millet. This was a very typical bread, but I have had ones that resemble a pancake that tastes much better. I am not a big fan of the spongy texture and sour flavor, but it's extremely useful in picking up the food. Having the texture of a sponge prevents the sauces from immediately soaking through.
The Doro Wot was chicken stewed in red pepper sauce with an assortment of spices. It was very difficult to eat the chicken leg since you can only use your hands. I felt it was kind of bland because the sauce was mostly on the outside and there wasn't much flavor on the chicken itself. I don't think it's because of the restaurant, instead I think that's how the dish is normally. For Siga Wot they use strips of beef braised in red pepper sauce with assorted spices. Since the beef was in smaller pieces it was able to absorb the sauce and flavor. The best thing of the night was the Yebeg Siga Alicha! It's a lamb stew delicately spiced with garlic, ginger, and other spices. This was not spicy at all and packed full of flavor. You can taste the aromatic flavor of the lamb along with all the spices that complimented the natural taste of the meat. Sadly there wasn't that much on the platter, next time I plan to just get this!We all ordered one more dish to share amongst one another. Tofu and I shared the Tibs that was cubes of beef with onion, tomato, garlic, green chilies, and spiced butter. At first we ate the lamb and though that we should have ordered more lamb. Luckily we stuck with the Tibs because it was much more flavorful than the other lamb dish we were looking at. The meat was semi-tender and had a light flavor. Avoid the green chilies if you don't love spicy, I ate a piece touching the it and boy did it pack a punch!A&K decided to share the Awaze Tibs. It was cubes of beef with onion, tomato, hot red pepper, and spiced butter. They thought that this dish was the best part of the platter. The other three dishes from the combo were nothing compared to the Awaze Tibs. A insisted that it was much better than the Tibs we got. =-P
Burumun and her friend showed up SUPER late! So they asked that I order for them and I ordered them the same combo along with the lamb dish that Tofu & I were debating on trying. I told Tofu later on that luckily we didn't get the Kikil. It's cubes of lamb with onion, green pepper, garlic, and collard greens cooked Ethiopian style. There wasn't really any flavor to this dish. I believe the collard greens probably masked the natural flavor of the lamb and absorbed all the savoriness of the spices.
After reading some reviews online I was very curious in trying the Authentic Ethiopian Coffee served in traditional Jebaen, clay percolator. One order served 2-5 people and believe one order was more than enough. They brought out the coffee beans to let us smell them as they were roasted, heated. At first it was very aromatic, but quickly turned into a burning smell. The coffee was sooooooooooooooooooo BITTER and the burnt flavor seeped in through your nose as well as your taste buds. I drank one full cup and Burumun tried to dump her cup into mine but I refused! Yipes, I don't know if that was how their coffee normally tastes but now I will be too frightened to try this in other places. I don't think any of us liked it. All I have to say is that I miss my cafe au lait from Paris!All in all the food was good and I loved the Yebeg Siga Alicha! The service was friendly, but very slow. I think that happens at all Ethiopian restaurants. There's a lot of time from when you order the dish and when you get it. Tofu and I were the first there and slowly the rest of our friends started to arrive. Our meal lasted from 8:30 PM to past 11PM, but we still made it to Pinkberry! I think I would come back here, but not before I finish trying all the other Ethiopian restaurants next door and right across the street!

Messob

1041 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 938-8827
Messob Ethiopian on Urbanspoon

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