MSP: Fasika chowdown report
- EarlOfSandwich Oct 15, 2008 09:06 PM
My thanks to the 14 chowhounds gathered to chow down at Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant in St. Paul. http://www.fasika.com
I hear that "Fasika" means "feast," and feast we did. I had a great time conversing with fellow 'hounds and the food was delicious. I would say it was the best Ethiopian food that I have ever had.
I will get the ball rolling by listing the menu items that we ordered, and hopefully some of the other participants can chime in with specifics on some of the items.
Take a look at http://www.fasika.com/menu.html
#4 ZILZIL TIBS
#9 FASIKA SPECIAL TIBS (shown on the website menu as "KURT ZILZIL"
)#16 DORO WOT
#20 BEEF COMBO PLATTER
#21 LAMB COMBO PLATTER
#23 ASA KITFO
#26 MOJA ASA
#32 VEGI SAMPLER
Various people also tried Harar Beer and Hakim Stout from Ethiopia, and Addis tea from Ethiopia. All the food barely fit on the narrow table and we filled up to *here*. However, even after people semed to push back from the table I shamelessly kept swooping back into the wreckage of the combo platters for those sauce-soaked sections of injera!
Usually when eating at an Ethiopian restaurant with chowspouse, we have the combo platter, but this gathering let us all sample items that are not usually included on the platters. Standouts for me included the Moja Asa--pan fried catfish-- so good! Also the Zilzil Tibs-- rather spicy long strips of beef with a crispy almost deep-fried texture. We had two hot hot plates of tibs (#4 and #9) and one was somewhat spicier and that was my favorite. We *think* that it was the #4.
Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant (duplicate)
510 Snelling Ave, N St Paul, MN
i *love* fasika and envy all of the tastes you folks got. i've always wondered how the catfish there was, i'll have to try for myself after your great rec. i wish fasika offered mixed combo platters-- like you could get one meat with 2 veg instead of 3 meats or all 8(?) veg. my favorite thing is the cabbage and carrot long-stewed veg, i always try to order it on the side and sometimes they give me a very small portion, sometimes a bigger one, sometimes they charge me for it and sometimes they don't-- then i feel bad and over-tip! if i had my own way i'd get lamb tibs, the carrot/cabbage, and lentils on a combo-- or just a double carrot/cabbage, who am i kidding. . . boy it makes life tough, going to fasika with just one or two other people, trying to figure out which combo to order. . . :)
A couple of quick tasting notes:
I agree on the Mojo Asa - though I think the stand out (and largely overlooked) part of that dish was the rice. I think it could easily have been the tastiest rice I have had anywhere!
The "meat on the bone" offerings ( one on the Lamb platter and the Doro Wot) was fantastically tender, there was absolutely no need for any utensils to pull the meat off the bone. Wow!
I may have more later when I have more time to devote to typing, but those were my stand outs
Fasika was one of our favorite places to eat while visiting our daughter when she lived in the TC. I've never had better Ethiopian food than that at Fasika. Now that our daughter lives in Seattle, she has commented how much she misses Fasika, among other places in MPLS. There really isn't as good an Ethiopian place in Seattle.
We really loved the food we had at Fasika, and certainly enjoyed the company of those in attendance! Since we cook Ethopian food on a regular basis and eat it out when we can, I was in a stupidly smug place thinking I couldn't be surprised. Well...the catfish. I was surprised. Simply wonderful. If you're an eater of finny things, this is reason enough to visit Fasika. Even the Hub, who is more land-based protein eater was more than favorably impressed.
I was also very happy to have cool salad as one of my options, since Ethiopian platters can so often be only about the heavier wats. Very nice veggies at Fasika, especially the...kale...cabbage? I want to say kale because of the more leathery texture than cabbage, but I could be wrong.
Thanks to the EOS for organizing a very delicious meeting. Cripes, I'm hungry for that catfish now. Oh, and all that yummy soaked injera after we were done...
I first started trying to cook Ethiopian food from, of all places, Jeff Smith's Frugal Gourmet book on Our Immigrant Ancestors. It was a nice basic tutorial, and not at all intimidating. I also use the Time-Life Foods of the World volume on Africa for reference and rounding out. Beyond the basics, I've sort of improvised on what I've tasted. (Mmmm...I must attempt that catfish sometime.)
Here's a couple of discussions I know have recipes:
Vis-a-vis injera, I am just not that brave. soupkitten's recs are good...and since you'll spend a lot of time on some of the stews, it's really nice to have that purchased injera!
Re: Fasika's injera - I thought it was better - in a "more tangy" way - than some of the others I've had. I wonder if it's house made? Anyone know?
An interesting resource i recently gleaned from an ethiopian coworker:
merkato - the corner store on university ave just to the west of fairview has all of the usual things one would expect from such a store: blunt wraps, a wide selection of sodas and mass produced baked goods, but also a small aisle of imported ethiopian spices and other goods.
at my coworkers word i stopped by to check it out and found the proprieter to be both interested and quite helpful, even if NONE of the packages of (mostly whole) spices were labled. I got what i was there to pick up, a bag of shiro powder, which i am ashamed today hasnt beem made into a tasty wat yet. apparently its made from a type of pea/bean and relativley hard to come by. she (my coworker not the shopkeeper - though he would have very likely agreed,) assured me i should go nowhere else for my shiro powder or berbere.
to my (limited) knowledge "shiro" in japanese means white - as in shiro maguro or white tuna/albacore. shiso is the delectable leafy herb often included with shellfish dishes and sometimes used as a garnish.
in short, no. this is a spiced bean powder meant to be reconstituted with tomatoes onions and water and cooked until it reaches the right thickness (ok, ill admit i still havent done it - but im thinking this week is the one)
Fasika is home to one of the 2 teas tied for my favorite in the Twin Cities. I love the "Ethiopian tea." They told me what was in it, and it was just a seasoned bag of Lipton, yet I never have been able to get it right at home. So I'll always order it when I go there, despite their generosity with the ingredients.