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Mar 12, 1998 10:05 PM

Eating With Your Hands

  • s

A friend has asked me to recommend a North African restaurant where you eat with your hands. I know there are such places, but I have no "first hand" experience.

Any ideas?

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  1. Abyssinia - 35 Grand Street in Soho is an Ethiopian
    original. 226-5959
    See for more info
    Regards, JK

    5 Replies
    1. re: John Knoesel

      Thank you for posting the name and address of Abyssinia (35 Grand Street in Soho). Several months ago, I'd had a long, passionate conversation with an Ethiopian cab driver during the drive to LaGuardia. When I told him that I'd eaten at Meskerem, he insisted that there was an even better Ethiopian restaurant in SoHo -- which I wrote down, but had misplaced by the time I got back to Manhattan. I'm sure this is it, and I'm looking forward to finally getting to try it!

      1. re: Karen Page
        Lisa Antinore

        A brand new Ethiopian place, GHENET, just opened up a few weeks ago downtown at 284 Mulberry Street between Houston and Prince. The recently christened NoLiTa nabe is booming. It's owned by a mother and daughter who prepare many dishes that are not usually found outside of Ethiopia.

        I went with an Ethiopian friend and he pronounced it the best he had eaten outside of his country. Everything we had was under ten dollars and there's even a Sunday brunch.....

        1. re: Karen Page

          My friends and I felt that Abyssinia was overpriced and portions small. Recently I enjoyed Awash on Amsterdam and 108th-107th or so. Large menu, extremely well-priced. But service indifferent and the wood panelled room looks like someone's basement decorated in the 70's: there's so little ambiance there's ambiance.
          For me, the secret to this food so you can eat a lot of it and not feel like your guts are going to burst the minute you get up from the table is to go easy on the (delicious) bread.

          Also, I enjoyed the already mentioned Meskerem further uptown on 121/Amsterdam.

        2. re: John Knoesel
          Amy Keyishian

          Yes, Abyssinia is my favorite Ethiopian place, not the
          least because it's so centrally located.

          But don't see Sidewalk for more information! See
          CuisineNet! :)


          1. re: John Knoesel

            We finally made it to Abyssinia the other night, and I have to admit that I was disappointed. One of the things I love most about Ethiopian food is the contrast provided by a really sour injera, and I found Abyssinia's injera as bland as Wonder Bread. The rest of the food was good -- but not great.

            It made me long for the days (years ago) when we lived in Boston around the corner from Addis Red Sea (544 Tremont, but I have no idea if it's still there or, if it is, if it's still good). In its day, it was one of the best Ethiopian restaurants I've ever enjoyed!

          2. l
            Lisa Antinore


            There's a very good Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant called "Massawa" on the corner of Amsterdam and 121st Street. I haven't visited for awhile, but I enjoyed many wonderful dinners there while I was working on my Master's across the street at Columbia. I ate all my meals with my hands and the menu implores you to wash them first, so head straight for the bathroom upon arrival....

            Their Zegenie Beghie (lamb with berbere sauce), Kitfo (raw hand-chopped beef with ghee, cardamom and spicy cayene), and Alicha (vegetables stewed with oregano and ginger) are all delicious dishes that lend themselves well to being scooped up with bits of the injera bread.

            The lunch specials (from 11-3 daily) are great as well.

            If your friends do venture this far uptown, make sure they check out the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It's gorgeous and the gift shop has some really interesting selections....