A Welcome to Seattle Dinner, Ethiopian Style

Several weekends ago, Zach, my friend Janet's boyfriend, came to Seattle for a visit. It was his first time being in the city and of course, she wanted to offer him food opportunities that you simply cannot get in Hawaii. And what better way to get out of your Hawaiian food comfort zone than to eat Ethiopian food? Ethiopian food in Hawaii is practically unheard of, and probably downright scary for some people. I, on the other hand, being the adventurist that I am, find it very exotic and intriguing, and thus I found it to be the perfect place to have a "Welcome to Seattle" dinner. Besides, I've been wanting to try Ethiopian food for the longest time, so that was my chance to convince Janet, Zach, Allison, and Trevor to eat there.

A potential-but-never-really-happened blind date (but that's another story) recommended that I try Habesha, an Ethiopian restaurant in the downtown area. It's kind of in one of those places that you pass by all the time, but when someone asks you about it, you respond with, "Really? I had no idea it was there." The restaurant itself has a really nice, dark, dimly lit atmosphere. The kind of place for a date night. Ironically, I think it's best to eat Ethiopian food when you're with a large group of people. So, perhaps a little more light would've been nice?

"Have you ever eaten here before?" Ahhh, the question that we seem to be getting lately when we go out to eat. And of course, the ever-so-simple response, "No." Fortunately, I always do my research before eating at newly discovered restaurants, so I was a little bit more prepared than everyone else. "But we'll start off with a bottle of the honey wine," I added. Enat. Ethiopian honey wine. Now I'm not a wine connoisseur, but the Enat has got to be sweeter than any dessert wine I've ever tasted. In a good way. (A few weeks later, I was thinking about how much I really liked the wine, and thought about buying a bottle to have on hand. I did my research again and I was surprised when I found out that it costs $22 a bottle! Good wine don't come cheap! I guess that's not too bad when you think about it, but if I'm going to pay $22 a bottle for a bottle of honey wine, I wouldn't be sharing it!)

Now for the main course. Let me start off by saying that Ethiopians place an importance on communal dining. Everything is done "family style". Sharing food from a communal plate? Eating with your hands? I met Zach two days ago and we're already putting our fingers in the same food. If that didn't put him out of his comfort zone, I don't know what would! But I'm all about embracing experiences to the fullest when they come. And besides, we're all family, right?

We ended up getting an assortment of dishes, all to be shared on one communal platter: Abesha Tibs, Yebeg Wot, Zil Zil Tibs, Green Chicken, and one more that I can't remember. Lamb, beef, and chicken. You definitely can't go wrong with that combination. All served with some salad, cheese, and a side of injera (Ethiopian flat bread). Now, for those of you who have never eaten Ethiopian food before, (which is probably most of you), eating Ethiopian food is similar to eating Indian food--you use your hands. Well actually, it's your right hand. Your left hand is supposed to be reserved for you know, personal hygiene purposes if you know what I mean. You rip off a piece of injera with your right hand, use it to pick up a few pieces of meat, and voila! Pop it in your mouth!

I must say that it's definitely a lot harder than it sounds; I already have a hard time with Indian food as it is. But the experience that I had with my friends, trying something new, having fun and trying not to make complete idiots out of ourselves, was simply priceless. All the food was very delicious, but eating in good company was even better. So, with that said, welcome to Seattle, Zach.

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