by KimHo on February 12, 2010 · 1 comment under: British Columbia,Food

2149 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC V5N
Harambe on Urbanspoon

I have mentioned previously that I do not like to celebrate my own birthday but that does not mean I won’t celebrate other people’s birthday. This was the case of PR, a very dear friend I have met some years ago and it was her “special” time of the year. So, as a “gift”, I asked her for dinner with the caveat she has to choose the restaurant. Her selection? Harambe, an Ethiopian restaurant in The Drive.

I must really apologize to PR because we agreed to meet at 7:00 p.m.; however due to road closing and lousy driving, I did not arrive until 10 or so minutes later. Now, instead of her walking into the restaurant, PR stood outside waiting for me in a dark, windy, rainy night. Yes, PR is really a trooper… Once we were set up inside, we spent some time deciding what to order. At first, I had no idea but, to make things “simple”, PR said we should just order the… Oh, wait, the “appetizers and drinks first?” right? And, we started with…

A coconut-type soup. I don’t recall the exact name but, let’s just say that, if you were expecting a sweet taste, you will be disappointed. OK, it did have some level of sweetness; however, that was really light, almost went away in almost no time, which was followed by some savouriness and then a spicy kick. As for its consistency, it was really thin. It was interesting, but there was something that bugged me. Along with the spiciness, there was a heavy salt aftertaste. I am not sure what it was or that is the intent. Regardless, I thought they should be able to do better.

PR went for a soup as well, in this case, a ground peanut-type soup. No, I am not kidding! The soup felt almost like a somewhat diluted version of peanut butter. Sure, it had some savoury overtones but the main attraction (or detraction) was a thick soup, almost a paste. Now, I mentioned savoury and, indeed, it had some chicken taste in the end. Unfortunately, the same salty effect that plagued the coconut soup also happened in this one.

PR ordered a tea which I did not take a picture of. It was quite interesting as the pot had a cinnamon like smell, but that by itself wasn’t the tea: you then have to add a tea packet to make the actual tea drink. I did not take a sip but, from PR’s description, it changed initial overall taste of the drink. In my case, I went for something more “simple”, their mango juice (?). At first, I was skeptical as to how they do it. I mean, it is not like you can squeeze juice out of a mango! Anyway, this was blended pieces of mango with some water. It was an interesting departure of lassi, as it does not seem to have dairy. I must warn you that drink can turn really heavy (in the stomach) so, consume with some precaution!

Here, our entree, which ended up being chef (?) platter for 2 and served with injera, a cold, neutral tasting like pancake. There is no cutlery in the straight sense of the word; instead, the injera is used to pickup the food. To quote Harambe’s site, here is the traditional way of eating injera.

  1. Tear a piece of Injera off the side of the large piece laying on your plate.
  2. Hold the piece of Injera that you tore flat in your hand.
  3. Put the piece of Injera over your choice of wat(sauce).
  4. Grab and hold some wat(sauce) with the injera.
  5. Enjoy the whole scoop or’gursha’

Now, as for the content of the platter itself, there were several forms of lentils, some cabbage, spinach, chicken and some beef. I will have to say I have some mixed feelings about the food. It was interesting to eat; however, after some sips of water/juice and, then eating injera, my stomach felt it expanded in odd ways. The lentils were a bit of hit or miss for me: it kept most of the shape but I personally prefer soup like consistency. It had some of the spice blend used in the soups but, unlike the soup case, it wasn’t that salty. As for the cabbage and spinach, they were good but not extremely exciting. The one component of the platter that bugged both PR and I was the meat selection. While they had a soft texture, that saltiness described above hit the meat really bad. As a result, that saltiness killed any other positive properties you can get from meats.

During our meal, we spent a lot of time talking to each other. While she is not a food blogger like some of us, she could hold herself with some of the comments of the food. It was a good thing that, for this meal, we agreed in almost all comments, except for one though: if she were to come back, she would order a vegetarian version, as the meat sucked. In my case, while the concept is good, I am not that attracted with what was served, specially considering it was mostly beans, something I like to eat. As a result, I might not come back. Unless, of course, point me what I should have ordered instead…

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