Posted by Degan on September 16th, 2010
Note: this post was imported from EthnicEats.ca
We’ve been to Fassil Ethiopian before. Several times in fact. But it’s my favorite and it’s been a while and Matt hadn’t tried Ethiopian yet, so off we went on a lunch date.
I’ve never been for Ethiopian with only two people and I was almost apoplectic with what to order. Would it be the vegetarian combo with derek tibs (chunks of fried, spiced lamb) or the doro wat (chicken stew)? There just weren’t enough of us to get a full sampling and so we ordered the Fassil Combo with kitfo. One of my favorite dishes, kitfo is rare beef spiced with chili powder and tastes well enough on its own but takes on a whole new level of flavour when paired with the mild, white cheese that seems to me must be goat.
Ethiopian food is generally served up in stews, called wats, or sauteed in tibs on a “plate” of injera, the flat, spongy, sometimes slightly purple iron-filled bread that is the Ethiopian staple. It can be spicy in some cases, or mild. The Fassil combo comes with smaller portions of alicha (curried vegetable stew), keye wot (cubed stew beef), misr wot (lentils) and kik wot (split peas) so it’s a good cross-section of textures and flavours.
You eat Ethiopian food with your hands, so make sure they’re washed. Then, you rip off a piece of an injera roll, wrap some stew or meat up in it and put it in your mouth. When you’re out of the rolls on the plate, your host may bring you some more (customary at Fassil at least) or you can start ripping up the plate. It may have absorbed some of the oil from the stews, which makes it all the more tasty, if not a little messy. Traditionalists will try eating “gursha“, a technique where you feed your dining companion as a gesture of intimacy and respect.
I’ve eaten at most of Vancouver’s Ethiopian restaurants and while there are a couple more good ones (I would go back to both Harambe and Red Sea Cafe), I always end up back at Fassil. The hospitality and service are kind and the food it excellent.
I wrote this about Fassil’s injera the last time I reviewed it and it still holds true:
Their is soft and fresh and handmade on the premises. This is a process, we learned, that is fairly simple, but takes 3 days for the dough to rise properly and a seemingly large amount of pans, since the injera has to be cooled separately from each other to keep from sticking. Like everything else these days, the chef told us there is apparently “instant injera” available, but at Fassil it’s homemade and it did taste heavenly. Perfectly spongy and slightly sour, it’s much more than a conduit for the wats.
Just be warned, there is a lot of it. I was wishing hard for a couple of extra bodies after we were politely scolded for not finishing our lunch. Either that or a take-out container.
5 – 736 East Broadway, Vancouver