After receiving a tip from a fellow chowhounder on where to find Ethiopian food in the OC area (see link below), my girlfriend and I trekked up to Anaheim for a taste. We were skeptical after turning into the slightly rundown strip mall where Merhaba resides, and we were even more skeptical when we went inside on a Saturday afternoon and found ourselves alone in the entire restaurant. The decor was sparse and the lighting dingy, and one of our napkins had a J. Paul Getty logo imprint on one side, which told us a little more than we wanted to know.
Yet when we received our food, we were more than pleasantly surprised. We ordered a few items from their menu, including their mixed vegetable, spinach, and chicken stew entrees. The vegetable dishes were tasty and light, and the chicken stew (a version of dorro wot) was the BEST WE HAVE EVER HAD (and we have sampled extensively on Fairfax and in Boston). The chicken was moist and succulent, falling off the bone and drenched in a spicy sauce with remarkable depth of flavor. The injera was tangy and fresh, and it did not become soggy as we used it to scoop up our tasty dishes. We felt a little like ravenous animals, because we decimated our meal.
You should absolutely try this place. The owners of the restaurant are remarkably warm and friendly. If you go with one or more fellow diners, I strongly recommend ordering a mix of vegetable and meat dishes. The chicken entree is not to be missed (we also tried the tibisy, which was reasonable, but not nearly as good as the chicken), and all of the vegetable dishes were pleasant and flavorful, a good balance to the rich meat dish (as a warning, the chicken dish is a bit spicy, but that's the way we like it).
Make sure to order your food family style with injera: they will heap the dishes on one large platter on top of a piece of the spongy, slighty sour flat bread. They provide you with additional injera in a basket for you to scoop up the food. Entrees are around $5 to $6 for lunch--a great bargain.
Here's the address:
Merhaba East African Shop & Coffee
2801 W. Ball Rd. (at Dale)
[Just north of Zanku Chicken on Ball.]
They also sell packets of injera for you to take home for $6 a heaping bag. Great stuff. You can keep it refrigerated for a long time or freeze it and thaw it in the microwave.
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