Every once in a while we get a Food Craving. Living where we do in the East Valley, we can get everything from Cuban to Vietnamese to Peruvian to Armenian within a ten-minute drive.
Tonight's Food Craving was Ethiopian food. Other than Fassica in Culver City, the ONLY Ethiopian restaurants in the city are in the 1000 south block of Fairfax, between Olympic/San Vicente and Whitworth.
We've been to Nyala (good food, bad injera, overabundance of kitsch). We've been to Messob (okay food, good injera, overabundance of attitude). We've been to Rozalinde's (good food, passable injera, horrendous service). Tonight we ended up at Meals By Genet, which bills itself as "the only authentic gourmet Ethiopian restaurant in Los Angeles".
It's different as soon as you walk in... rather than the bright colours of Nyala or the dark funkiness of Rozalinde's, it's white tablecloths and wine glasses. The menu is more than half European (pastas, chicken, etc.) and the Ethiopian fare is eight or nine items on the top of the list. Prices are $10 to $15 for entrées, which seems a little high compared to the other restaurants.
We ordered the vegetarian combination (due to my idea that with Ethiopian food, like Indian food, meat is superfluous) and the lamb alitcha (mild stew).
It took a long time for our food to come, during which time the most mouthwatering aromas I've smelled in a month of Sundays floated out of the kitchen and from the dishes of the diners around us.
The vegetarian combo contained large spoonfuls of FOURTEEN separate items -- salad, cabbage, gingered potatoes, tomato fitfit, injera soaked in spicy Ethiopian mustard, garbanzo beans, red lentils, yellow lentils, green lentils, collard greens, a stuffed chile pepper, sunflower paste, cold tomato stew and yams with berbere. They were all fabulous, but the injera with mustard and the garbanzo beans with lots of smoked paprika were the best by far.
There was also a giant mound of lamb underneath a piece of injera (to keep it hot). I have never tasted lamb like that. We sucked each and every bone (and there were LOTS of bones, some of which had plenty of delectable soft marrow in them) to get every last gram of meat off of them, depositing spotless white bones in the gurry bucket. I am going to dream of that lamb tonight. It was the best lamb I've put in my mouth, ever, bar none.
The service was great. When my tea ran out, a pot of hot water appeared. When we needed a third piece of injera, it appeared without our needing to ask. They emptied the gurry bucket twice so we didn't need to look at our detritus for too long. The waiter (who looked more like he was from Anaheim than from Addis Ababa) explained each dish on the plate for us and offered to show us how to eat with injera.
My wife drank soda; I had hot Darjeeling tea. The total bill, with tax and a very generous tip, came to $40.
We'll be going back there with reinforcements -- next time I want to try the spice-rubbed trout, which smelled sublime when it came to the three Ethiopian ladies dining next to our table.
Meals By Genet
1053 South Fairfax
Los Angeles, CA 90019
1 (323) 938 93 04
Open Wednesday through Sunday