Axum Ethiopian Restaurant

by KimHo on February 15, 2010 · 2 comments under: British Columbia,Food

Axum Ethiopian Restaurant
1279 East Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
Axum Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I believe that one of the best “perks” (for the lack of a better word) of food blogging is that you get to meet people who shares a similar passion for food. That is how I ended up receiving an email from Elaine and Chris (of Parker Pages. One thing led to the other and, in a way, that’s how we met the night Mijune (of Follow Me Foodie) organized here twEAT-up. But, we also planned an outing together, that one being a visit to an Ethiopian restaurant: Axum, located in the farther side of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. And, in this visit, Sherman (of Sherman’s Food Adventures) was also along.

On that note, check Elaine’s post here as well as Sherman’s post here!

It was originally supposed to be my first time having Ethiopian; however, the previous weekend I ended up going to Harambe so, in a way, my memory was somewhat fresh on what the cuisine had to offer. However, after glancing at the menu, I noticed it was a bit simpler here, plus there was less emphasis on vegetarian. Yes, in their two page menu, only 4 items are vegetarian! However, that does not mean taking a decision of what to order was easy but we took a semi-Chinese type decision (sorry, Chris!): order one of the different meat types. But, before going to the actual meal, a drink.

Elaine asked for a spicy tea, something similar that PR had in Harambe. It had a cinnamon smell to it and, at first, Elaine was happy to drink it “as is”. However, she didn’t realize she had to add that tea bag until she finish the first cup! Once she added the bag… Well, it wasn’t what she expected. I am not sure if she noticed I was watching her add spoonfuls of sugar! 😀 As for the exact description, just wait for her post, hehehehe. And now, to the food.

Similar to what I had in Harambe, here is the injera. I won’t go into details as it was pretty the same, it started innocent looking; however, as we progressed, it started to expand in our stomachs!

Click on the picture to open a larger version in a new window.

The vegetarian combo. You could get each of these individually; however, since it was four of us, we decided to go all in and order the combo. From top left, clockwise: red lentil, split yellow pea, spinach and cabbage/carrot. They were all seasoned fine and, unlike Harambe, it wasn’t too salty. Similar to what happened in Harambe, I prefer my legumes a bit softer. As for the leafy greens, they were fine, not much to comment about.

Fish tibs, marinated & sauteed with red onions, garlic, jalapeño peppers, fresh tomato, herbs and spices. The sauce was fine; however, the winner was the fish. It was cooked through but it was still quite flaky. There was no fishiness into it but, still, you knew it was fish based on the texture. I won’t say I was overly enthusiastic about the sauce (more on that in a moment); otherwise, the fist itself would be something I would order.

Doro Alicha Wot, chicken simmered in mild curry sauce. If there was a dish that did not work for me that night, it would have been this one. It was a bit of a disappointment as there wasn’t that much of curry characteristic I am familiar with (either Chinese, Japanese, Thai or Indian). So, no sweet, nor spicy; instead it had a light bitterness at the end. Probably an acquired taste? The other part I did not like was the consistency of the chicken and size of it. Imagine small pieces of overcooked white meat. However, this might have to do with the way it is cooked in Ethiopia…

Lega tibs, tender boneless leg of lamb marinated & sauteed with red onions, garlic, jalapeño peppers, fresh tomato, herbs and spices. It had quite a strong gamey taste which I did not mind at all. Now, notice the list of ingredients – it is basically the same as the one for the fish. And that is the problem I encountered: different dishes with the same sauce. Sure, the texture and taste of the meat made it different but that background taste made it slightly repetitive. Putting the lamb on its own, I would say it is decent.

Finally, gored gored, lean beef warmed in spiced butter, raw or medium cooked, served with homemade cheese. I did not take a picture of the cheese but imagine finely crumbed feta cheese without its pungent taste. As for the dish itself, let’s just say there were two funny incidents. Elaine mentioned there are dishes she can’t usually order when out in a group as people might be interested in joining her to order it. Well, as I told Elaine, what happens is that she wasn’t going out for dinner with the correct group! 😀 Also, when we ordered it, the waitress looked at us and asked “raw or medium?”. When we said raw, she warned us again she really meant uncooked (just warm). I think we were all smiles and told her “yes”. Anyway, I will have to say this is another dish I would order. It was lightly spiced and had some beefy chewiness into it. No, despite it is raw, do not even try to make comparisons with carpaccio or a rare blue steak. It is unlikely the beef is a fine cut but it did not matter, as it had some intense beef flavour you seldom taste in tender cuts. The butter jsut added another layer of flavour to it.

If I had to do some comparison between the other reference point, i.e., Harambe, I will have to say I like Axum way better. This would be a place I would come back to try something different and be adventurous. And, of course, with Elaine, Chris and Sherman, it made the meal even better.

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