OMG Food!

Soup's on, folks! I'm Tina M. Courtney, aka PoetKitty -- a Los Angeles based food writer audacious enough to think I can critique all manner of eateries. It's a labor of love, and I'm honored to welcome you. Grab a fork and let's get this party started.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Art of Food Sharing - Ethiopian-Style

Nyala
1076 S. Fairfax
Los Angeles, CA
7.16.06 - Sunday, 7:15 PM
Myself + 2 guesta (Bestest Friend plus Australian Angel)


There's a stretch of Fairfax Avenue, just south of Olympic, called Little Ethiopia. Both sides of the street are lined with fragrant smelling, colorful restaurant fronts serving all kinds of ethnic delicacies. Nyala lives on the south east corner of this stretch, and sports a lavender neon sign. The place is incredibly welcoming, larger than expected, and full of gorgeous art, golden hues, and the most incredible, spicy scents.

This place is a mainstay for my best friend and I - a great place to go with the girls (or the guys) and dish about the latest developments. This evening, the BF and our darling Australian goddess friend swooped in for hardcore girl-talk and delicious, communal eats. We scampered into one of the many banquets and didn't even spy the menu. Nyala may not be the best of its kind on this strip, but there are two dishes here we can't pass up. I'll dish the details on those in a just a jiffy. Be warned, however, that service is not their strong point. It's slow, at best, but warm and friendly. Just don't come here in a hurry, or you shall be more than a little peeved.

If you've never had an Ethiopian food experience before, it's a special treat. Not only does the food itself sport very unique and heavenly flavors, but eating this kind of cuisine is a community affair. Plates of food are served on gigantic platters - there are no individual settings. And silverware? Forget about it - there's no formality to this throw-down, and instead of forks and knives, you'll be served injer. Injer is the native bread - more spongy and pliable than a typical slice - with a semi-sour kick that matches the spices spot-on perfectly. Patrons take pieces of the injer and scoop up their bite-size pieces - be it seafood, veggies, or meat. So if your mother never taught you to share, perhaps you should stick to American fare ;)

Now for the good part!

Drinks:

We stuck to sodas - they serve Ethiopian beer (bland) and wine (too sweet).
We also had the amazing and fragrant native tea - highly recommended.


Our platter consisted of:

Vegetarian Combo
- This consists of one good-sized portion of all their vegetarian offerings.
1. Yemiser Wot
Red lentil stew simmered in seasoned red pepper sauce, fresh garlic and ginger.

2. Kik Alecha
Mild yellow split peas cooked with onion, fresh garlic and ginger.

3. Defen Yemiser Wot
Bean stew cooked in fresh garlic and ginger.

4. Yatakilt Wot
Mixed vegetables: fresh carrots, potatoes, and cabbage cooked with garlic and ginger.

5. Yabesha Gommen
Collard greens seasoned with fresh garlic and ginger.

** This selection is a MUST - so many yummy flavors and consistencies to enjoy - and all of them melt in your mouth with the injer.

Shrimp Tibs
- Shrimp sauteed with onion, tomato, garlic, seasoned red pepper sauce and olive oil. (Medium Spicy). It can be ordered mild.
** My favorite thing on the menu - perfectly cooked shrimp with mild yet kicky flavor and fantastic peppers. So freakin' good!


And so much fun to eat in such a share-and-share-alike fashion.
To be fair, word has it Nyala is not the number one taste-sensation in Little Ethiopia, but it's incredibly comfortable, and truly reliable.

The damage for 2 teas, 1 soft drink and a platter for 3 entrees was about $35, before tip.


RESTAURANT REPORT CARD

Ambiance - B-
Service - C
Food (Taste) - B
Food (Presentation) - B
Wine/Drinks - C-
Value - B
Overall Experience - B-

Final word - Partly because we're sentimental, and partly because it's damn tasty, this is a frequent haunt.

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