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Zoma - new Ethiopian in Harlem- 113th St

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This new place- ZOMA- in Harlem finally opened. It is on 8th Ave at 113th Street. At last a restaurant in the area that lives up to our hopeful expectations. It was really delicious and pleasant/

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  1. Okay, details, details: What did you order?

    1. Holy sh*t! Are you kidding me? I love ethiopian food but always have to go out of the neighborhood to get it. Massawa is ok and I never got to try Zula before it closed.

      Tell me more. How long has it been there? I was just down that way last week, didn't see it. What's the menu like? Prices?

      1. Went a few weeks ago. Am not an afficionado of Ethiopian, so I can't say definitively; but I found the food highly enjoyable. My only criticism (a mild one) is that the food was a bit over-spiced. Otherwise, it was lovely. Just what Harlem needs.

        The other Ethiopian place you can try, of course, is Awash, which is supposed to be really, really good. Never been myself.

        1. overly spiced? that means it's probably just right :-)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Uptownflavor

            I've had my eye on ZOMA for several weeks. The place looks very slick and downtownish in appearance. I love the look. My hesitation has been that the place is completely empty each time I happen by. Next time, I'll be brave and eat in the place even if empty...

            1. re: Uptownflavor

              just to clarify: the food was over-spiced NOT in the sense of being too hot, but rather in the sense of overpowering the main ingredient. Wasn't that excessive, all things considered, but I do enjoy actually tasting the main ingredients.

            2. Hi there Gang.

              I live across the street from ZOMA and it is fantastic! I think the food is great but in the characteristic Ethiopian style they are slow. So when you go, plan to spend some time hanging out.

              The other great Ethiopian place in town is Gahnet on Mulberry between Prince and Houston. yum.

              Have some Honey Wine if you like it. If not there is this fantastic white that they: Man Vinters Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. Good stuff.

              Enjoy:)

              1 Reply
              1. re: amanda.l

                I second honey wine.

              2. Amanda, have you been to Awash?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Daniel76

                  agreed- Awash and Meskerem still my favorites. And my ethiopian friends consistently love Queen of Sheba. Can't wait to try this place and the new one on Ave B.

                2. I don't like Awash. The bread was soggy and the food didn’t have the appropriate umph. (Insert personal disclaimer here.) That's not to say that it is bad; tasty food, but just not as good as Gahnet, and ZOMA definitely wins with decor and wine, I mean food. I
                  I’ll try Awash again and get back to you...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: amanda.l

                    really? the times i've been to ghenet it's been too oily/buttery and rather lukewarm. it wasn't bad, but it wasn't outstanding. i should try it again... did anyone notice the new place Meskel on Ave B / 3rd has the same exact menu as Meskerem? I'm wondering if it's the same owners.

                  2. This is so exciting!! I've been waiting for a new Ethopian place to open in the uptown/Harlem area of town! I"ve been wanting to bring my meetup ethnic dining group to an Ethopian restaurant, but most places are really small (I like Awash, but its tiny, and lower manhattan is too far for many of my westchester meetup groupies - silly people, aren't they?) Can anyone tell me if there's a website, or how big the restaurant is - can it fit a group of up to 20 for dinner easily?

                    Thanks!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: swept

                      The place is big enough, I think they can seat approximately 30, but best to maybe call ahead or go early, every time we went, the place was fully packed. My husband and I have been there 3 times and were very happy with all the food and the staff is very friendly.

                      1. re: kafka1

                        Any particular ordering recommendations at Zoma?

                        1. re: Produce Addict

                          I really liked the sirloin stew called "Tibs Wett" and the marinated lamb called "Yebeg Alitcha" and all the vegetable dishes are real good, especially the different chickpea variations. But they serve a combination where you can have a taste of several dishes that serves 2 for 19 dollars. Enjoy!

                          1. re: kafka1

                            FYI
                            http://events.nytimes.com/2007/01/10/...

                    2. Although much slicker looking, I think the food at Awash, on 106th and Amsterdam, is better.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Ira.B

                        My standby has always been queen of sheba but now I'm looking for a place open on sunday and it's between Zoma and Awash (uws). any specific reasons you prefer awash? my board research doesn't give me anything definitive, if you've eaten at queen of sheba then that would help. thanks!

                        1. re: bigjeff

                          Zoma is a lot better than Awash. The only thing I go to Awash for is its Harar beer, imported straight from Harar in Ethiopia (via DC), though sometimes you can get it at QOS.

                          1. re: bigjeff

                            I prefer Zoma over both Awash locations--the food is just more flavorful-- but I've not eaten at QOS.

                        2. ate here today and was quite satisfied with the food, the service, the restaurant. we ordered one of their combos which was doro wot (stewed chicken in berbere), yebeg alitcha (lamb in a very nice sauce, also with some legumes but not sure what), and shiro (supposed to be chickpeas and lentils but I think there was meat in it) plus a side of gomen (collard greens) with kategna to start. we were the only customers in the place when they opened right at noon on the dot and our server was really sweet and nice, esp. as I prodded her on portions, swapping options on the combo, etc. and somehow I think she ended up giving us extra dishes which was very nice. we ended up with 5 dishes on our injera although we ordered four and I still can't figure out the "bonus" dish she gave us which she said was like shiro, but cooked with beef and berbere. confusing, but delicious; all of the flavors were very distinct but not overpowering, I found the doro wett extremely unspicy even though the lovely berbere stained our fingers; I asked the waitress for some pepper and she came back with a whole jalapeno pepper, cut in half, seeded, and filled with diced tomato and red onion; so beautiful a side dish to eat, alternating with bites of injera and the mains, as a very fresh heat component. she kept laughing at me as I asked for more water but I ate the whole pepper and it was delicious.

                          I found the lamb dish to be excellent, the hybrid shiro + beef dish excellent. the collard greens were very plain but delicious, and the portions on the doro wett miniscule (a hard boiled egg and half a chicken drumstick) but the sauce wonderful to lace over the rest of the food. I'd definitely go back and try some of the other foods; overall very pleasant.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bigjeff

                            I'm glad it hasn't gone downhill!

                            The meat and shiro dish is the bozana shiro, a very common dish.

                            I don't think doro wot is supposed to be extremely spicy. When I had it in Ethiopia it was exploding with flavor but if you wanted it more spicy you ask for additional mitmita or awaze on the side and dip the injera into it. Or maybe it's because my taste buds have been neutralized.

                            1. re: yt28

                              ya the flavor of the doro was absolutely delicious but I really had the impression that it would have real heat. regardless, it was great. oh, and I forgot to mention, the toasted injera was quite rich but excellent; we did little "napoleons" of toasted injera, topped with a piece of the injera from underneath a particular dish, and then topped with said dish. crunchy, soft and all delicious; good stuff.

                          2. I am on the eternal hunt for food that matches up to my memories of Zula. Maybe that wasnt even the best Ethiopian but since it was my first and most dear, I just feel like none of the shiro that I've had (with the exception of a spot my cousin took me to in LA) has been as good.
                            That being said....Queen of Sheba is amazing. (I love the vege combos, and the tibs wat I think its called. I love the chicken with berbere and egg, and the spicy cubed beef dish. Totally bad memory of the names, I'm sorry. But the injera is really good. Tangy and soft) And my first choice but....its far from where I live and the wait during peak times is insane. I liked Zoma alot actually but it seemed very heavy (oily perhaps?) and pricier than I thought necessary...then again, I guess youre paying for fly new-Harlem chic? ehh.
                            I'm gonna try out this new spot on 125th st. btw Convent and Amsterdam that I forget the name of....had it once and it was decent, but it was before a full opening of the place, so I guess it deserves another try.
                            Awash to me was kind of bland, as was Ghenet, and a few other places in the city.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: missinfo

                              "I'm gonna try out this new spot on 125th st. btw Convent and Amsterdam that I forget the name of....had it once and it was decent, but it was before a full opening of the place, so I guess it deserves another try. "

                              Cafe Addis. I wouldn't put it in the same league as Queen of Sheba or the UES' "The Ethiopian Restaurant", but it's not bad.

                              1. re: ShinjukuAce

                                I am VERY confused, I used to go to an ethiopian by the name of Zoma in Harlem, around 2002. Does this one have anything to do with it? Am i crazy or there was a Zoma over there about 10 years ago?

                                1. re: gurmanda

                                  Sorry to hijack this thread everyone.

                                  Gurmanda, this is the only way I know to get in touch with you as you said you don't read the Caribbean boards anymore. I'm planning a trip to PR next month. One of your posts really struck me because it was contrary to what most people were saying and it was EXACTLY what I was thinking. So I'd really appreciate your input on my thread:

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/571872

                                  1. re: gurmanda

                                    maybe you're thinking of Zula's on Amsterdam and 122. So good. So missed.

                                  2. re: ShinjukuAce

                                    Thank you, that's exactly the name.....Cafe Addis.

                                    And I'm sorry to say....not such a great meal....
                                    I went with one other person....also an Ethiopian food fan and former Zula fanatic.
                                    We ordered their special meat combo platter for around $19. Which comes with the spicy cubed beef (Tibs Wett), as well as the lamb Alitcha which is mild with a tumeric yellow thick sauce.
                                    Now, neither of us eat lamb...so we asked if we could replace the lamb Alitcha with the chicken Alitcha.
                                    The waiter had to go back twice to check on whether this was possible, and came back to say that it wasnt. This made no sense because isn't lamb more expensive than chicken? And....it was the same sauce.
                                    So finally they agreed to switch it to chicken.....for an added fee. Really???
                                    (mind you...Cafe Addis is not chichi.....which I dont mind at all, some the best meals in my life have been had at holes in the wall. But why are there deli sandwiches and random pastries on the menu?)

                                    Finally the food came....a large platter layered with injera flat bread (which I love...and which was well done)....and with small piles of the Tibs Wett, the Chicken Alitcha, along with a small pile of salad with italian dressing, a small pile of shiro (my favorite chick pea puree), and a small pile of stewed cabbage with carrots.

                                    The salad was...salad. The cabbage was tasteless but harmless. The shiro was definitely the worst I've ever had. It was hyper smooth and shiny like gerber baby pumpkin puree. And there was no flavor at all.

                                    The Tibs Wett was spicy and tasty, the best meat of the meal. But in the middle of the platter was a pool of yellow sauce, also relatively flavorless.....and 1 chicken drumstick.

                                    Not only were we charged $5 extra because we replaced lamb with chicken in the Alitcha...($5? Really?)....but in a combo platter specifically for 2....there was 1 chicken leg.

                                    At this point I was so over it, I just ordered a whole nother chicken dish. Doro Tibs (cubed boneless chicken cooked with ginger, onions, tomatoes). The waiter told us that we should just order Doro Alitcha (the same dish as the 1 chicken leg) because it would be faster. Why would stewed pieces of chicken on the bone cook faster than small cubes of boneless chicken?....
                                    well, maybe we should have listened...not because of the wait....because the Doro Tibs was rubbery and gamey.
                                    The bill came out to $58 and it was just not worth it.
                                    I wanted to like the food because the 2 staff members were nice....if a bit disinterested.
                                    But the food was just bland and it seemed unloved.

                                    Oh, except for the coffee....the coffee was amazing. Seriously. Best part of the dinner. Very strong and nutty.

                                    The search for a Zula replacement continues.....

                                    1. re: missinfo

                                      yo! wit you on queen of sheba (love the gored gored, barely cooked beef cubes in butter) and the only reason I didn't go there once was because it wasn't open, hence my meal at Zoma (I still thought it was good). personally my introduction to ethiopian back in high school was abyssinia down on grand? prince? spring? although looking back, that probably wasn't very good. gonna head to QoS soon; got me craving!