Once again, based on Chowhound reviews, I decided to try Merhaba. I recently had Ethiopian Cuisine in DC and wanted to try it locally.
The decor is very simple, but it is clean. Do not expect a fine dining experience. But like most ethinic restaurants you can expect incredibly tasty food. In exchange for the lack of fancy accomadations you get incredibly cheap prices.
There was a man and a woman working there and its a small operation. I dont think the woman speaks much english as she really couldnt recomend anything for me to try.(the man was out for a few minutes but returned after we ordered) Luckily I just had some things the week before and kind of knew what to order. I would suggest that they offer a combination platter with various items they pick for people who are trying this for the first time and have a set price per person.
We had the lamb which was excellent and the raw beef (starts with a "k") and mixed vegtable dishes. The potato, carrot, and spinach were all so good. I also got the chicken stew that Irvine Munchy recomended and it was great. Evrything was so flavorful and so complex. I highly recomend this place and I agree with previous posters that this place may need our help to keep it afloat. The prices are so inexpensive and it wasnt that busy.
The people who work there are so incredibly nice. They certainly deserve to succeed.
On their counter, they proudly have the Chowhoud review from Irvine Munchy framed and displayed. Although his review is 100% accurate, I felt bad as the review kind of put down some of their decor and ambiance. Yet these people so proudly displayed the review. They did so because the review talked about how wonderful the food was and I could not agree more. On top of that, this is the only place of its kind in Orange County that I know of.
So get out there Chowhounders. This restuarant is worth having in OC and I am sure could use your support.
Merhaba East African Shop & Coffee
2801 W. Ball Rd. (at Dale)
[Just north of Zanku Chicken on Ball.]