Located at the Pearce shops, Ethiopia Down Under has been quietly serving delicious Ethiopian food to the local community. I first dined there years ago and tried the traditional mosob dining, where you get one massive plate of various dishes to share and eat it all with your hands. I never took a photo (pre-blogging days) but I remember it being a great introduction to Ethiopian food and was completely full by the end. A friend organised dinner there one night and I was glad to have a chance to go back. We didn’t try mosob dining, and instead ordered our own separate dishes.
We started off with a slice of kita bread each ($3.90) which I think was sliced into six pieces for the table. This traditional Ethiopian flat bread was soft, much softer than say a deep pan pizza (which is what it looked like) and had been slathered with spicy oils. A good spicy kick starter to dinner.
I was in a beef mood, and couldn’t decide between the kay wat (beef in spicy berbere) and the alit’cha ‘yayesh’ wat (chef’s special beef and coconut cream with mild Ethiopian spices). When the owner came around to take orders, I told him of my dilemma and asked him which he liked better. Without hesitation, he said he would give me half and half (approx $17.90 – the same price as just one of those dishes). Problem solved! *happy face. The kay wat came in a berbere stew. Berbere is a spice mixture with about 10 different spices including cumin, ginger, paprika and chilli peppers. It was no surprise then that it was full of flavour and very aromatic. It was also the spicier of the two. The beef, though not the most tender, was still soft with no gristly bits. The alit’cha ‘yayesh’ wat was a little thicker due to the coconut cream with a more subtle taste after all of the spices from the kay wat. I think I preferred the alit’cha ‘yayesh’ wat as the favourite of the two (but I do love coconut). I really appreciated being able to try both!
Our meals came with the traditional Ethiopian flat bread, injera. The best way to describe it is crepe-like, spongey and porous. Very thin and soft like a crepe, but slightly thicker and very spongey so that it absorbs and can scoop up whatever you are dipping it into. Injera has a slight tangy taste to it. The reason? Its actually left to ferment for several days. If you are used to the Indian butter chicken and plain naan, like me, the injera and Ethiopian stew combination might be a bit of a surprise due to the tangy flavour. But I did appreciate the slightly sour offset to the rich stew. It worked.
My friends all ordered different dishes. Below was the asar tibbs ($20.90) – strip of fish, pan fried with berbere, capsicum, onion and tomato. The fish was very tender and in a wonderful combination of flavours.
Another friend ordered the meat combination of kay wat, yellow lentils and beef with coconut ($18.90). Basically what I had plus the lentils.
Another ordered the lentil combination ($17.90) of red lentils, yellow lentils and mixed vegetables. A great option for vegetarians.
Another ordered the zilzil tibbs ($22.90) of beef pan fried with ‘awaza’ spices, chilli and onion.
And the last fellow diner ordered the bamia wat ($17.90) of okra and beef in spicy berbere sauce.
Although the decor inside the restaurant wasn’t flash, it was comfortable and peaceful. Everyone was very pleased and satisfied with their meals. Service was lovely with very kind owners and wait staff. It was great to see staff that are passionate about their food and culture. There were no soft drinks on the menu as they have too many preservatives. Instead, the restaurant makes its own lemonade and ginger beer. I ordered the home made ginger beer ($2.50) which was served in a large glass and went down a treat. A friend ordered the Ethiopian coffee ($2.50) which had been hand roasted from raw Ethiopian coffee beans. The traditional pot was gorgeous (but I was too slow to take a photo) as was the small coffee cup. I wanted to try some but I just can’t drink coffee that late, or else I’m up all night.
Most people should be able to eat something on the menu with vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options available.
Ethiopia Down Under is at 1/70 Hodgson Crescent, at the Pearce shops. Open Tuesday to Sunday for dinner.
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 25/30
If you want more random photos and updates about food, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram