Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I remember when I first came to Zeni Ethiopian. It was a very long time ago with Ms. Lin and my Mom. In my memories I remember this place was located in a dumpy strip mall but the Ethiopian food was tasty and this place was not busy at all. I always remind Ms. Lin to make reservations everywhere we go just in case because I'd rather be on the safe side than have to wait. Her normal response is that the place won't be that busy so don't worry. Of course when we arrived here this place was PACKED! Wow, how times have changed. Everyone is worried about the economy and recession, but you really can't tell at this place or eating out in the Bay Area. Most restaurants are packed with people I must say. This restaurant really hasn't changed much since our last visit, which might have been over 5 years ago. We sat there and waited for a table to open up so that we can get a seat. It was not a good sign when we saw that most of the people here still had their menus. As always, Ethiopian restaurants take a really long time to serve. Eventually we got a seat in the more traditional area, sitting in the authentic Ethiopian chairs and using a straw woven table. We both love the cute table top. The only thing is I am recovering from extreme back pains and the day I was leaving it was starting to act up again... so let's just say this way of eating was not the best thing for my back. =*(We were going to order 3 dishes, but we decided to wait on making sure it's the dish we really like. I told Ms. Lin that it wouldn't be a good idea because the wait must be very long but she argued that we wouldn't want a dish that we might not like so I reluctantly agreed. As it turns out we should have ordered it all at once because it would take ANOTHER 40 mins for the dish to come out. I know this place is busy but BOY do they take their time! Some of the dishes are not even cooked and they take that long! We got the Ye-Beg Tibs. It's chunks of Lamb sauteed with Onions, Tomato, Green Pepper, and Purified Butter. The dish comes out on a sizzling platter and the server will scoop everything onto the big injera with the other dishes. I usually like this dish a lot because it's always full of meat with a firm seared texture. This dish was not as good as I remembered and it needed more flavor. Still, meat is meat and the texture was decent enough that I could tolerate this dish. It ended up that I mainly ate this because everything else was not that great.Generally we order a combo plate to share. We ordered their Meat Combination, which is a great deal. It contains Alitcha Fitfit, Doro Wot, Beef Kitfo, and Home-made Cheese. In the center of the large Injera is their salad that I always enjoy. The salad and cheese always lightens the spice and enhances the taste. The fitfit was Lamb with Bones cooked in Mild Green Pepper Sauce, and mixed with pieces of Injera before it's served. I thought this dish was extremely disappointing. There was no flavor or taste at all. It's one of the worst fitfit I have had. Normally I love the taste and the sauce that the injera absorbs in. Beef Kitfo is like an Ethiopian Steak Tartar. It's Lean Round Steak seasoned with Purified & Herbed Butter, and Hot-Spiced Chili Powder (mitmita). I can only eat so much of this dish before I get sick of it. Their version was not too spicy or maybe I am able to take spicier foods. The best way to eat this dish is to compliment it with the salad and some home-made cheese that will bring out the taste of the kitfo. Doro Wot was a Drumstick cooked in a Hot & Thick Red Pepper, Onions, Garlic, Ginger, and Purified Butter Sauce. It's quite hard to eat the drumstick with the injera without any help since the meat doesn't easily fall off. The flavor was so-so, but not worth the effort for me. We had to work together to pull of the meat with the injera. All in all the food was a little disappointing. The prices were very reasonable for the amount of food you get. Maybe I was expecting too much? Maybe time has not been kind on them and they have fallen backwards in food quality & taste? Maybe things are never as good as you remember? I had to start the debate about this with Ms. Lin because it is NOT true. How can I say this? Well aren't there places that you still love or frequent often? I named one good example that I am sure even Ms. BumbleBee would agree with me. Sushi Sam's! ^_^ It's not fair to say that it's never as good as you remembered because there are places that you keep going and love. I think the phrase is a scape goat or a lie that we tell ourselves so that we will keep going back to these restaurants that aren't worth the trip. Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant

1320 Saratoga Ave
San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 615-8282
Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I agree! Sushi Sam's *is* the best! It's always good every time I go (although there was this one time when it was just ok...but it's a rare anomaly). Maybe you just love sushi more... :)

Kat said...

We are going this Thursday night. I keep reminding Ms. Lin to ask you. Hopefully you can come, I will remind her again to call you.

I agree that once in a while it's not as good, but the only time that it happened for me was NOT sitting at the Sushi Bar. So I will never eat anywhere other than near Sushi Sam! lol

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