Jubba, Somali in San Jose
Went to Jubba over the weekend, next to the Ohlone/Chenowyth VTA Light Rail Station. I'd never had Somali food, and it was interesting. It was a lot less like Ethiopean than I expected, with many influences that seemed Indian (chappatti) and Persian (the spiced rice with raisins).
Highlights were a very tender goat dish (#1), the beef stew (I forget the number and name), the beef sambusas (more like an indian samosa), the rice, and the chappati. The injera was very different from Ethiopian -- puffy, sweet, less fermented, and darker in color. I liked the chappati better, though my sweet-tooth wife loved it. I would pass on the "beef steak" next time.
The staff were very nice, and six adults gorged for $46 pre-tip.
Thanks for posting. I've never had Somali food either and will definitely need to check it out.
This is a great find. I've been twice in two days. I absolutely love the goat, which is a fairly simple dish of bone-in chunks of meat. I too was surprised that it wasn't more like Ethiopian, or even spicy/exotically flavored. The goat wasn't plain - there were definitely spices involved - but seasonings were used with a light hand and I couldn't really pick any out - I just know that the result as outrageously tasty.
I also had chicken suqaar, which is a sort of spicy stir-fry, over spaghetti. All the dishes come with your choice of rice, chapati, injera, or pasta. I had tried and really liked the jumbo-sized, slightly sweet Somali version of chapati, but I was curious about the pasta, which also comes with a banana. The whole thing was like a mash-up of Peruvian saltado and spicy spaghetti.
Service is a bit odd - the owner can be friendly or kind of brusque depending on how occupied she is. But when I asked about some injera I saw her dousing with ghee and sweet tea, she gave me a piece to try. As jmarek says, it's less fermented/sour than the Ethiopian version, although what I had was actually quite light in color and I wouldn't call it sweet - the chapati was more sweet. I preferred the more flavorful Ethiopian injera. But I love the sinus-clearing chai, which is sweetened but milk-free. It's in a carafe at the back of the restaurant for self-serve.
This place was just reviewed in Metroactive - perhaps they saw the Chowhound review? The writer raves about the suqaar and dismisses the goat, which surprises me. The goat is not to be dismissed! It's not gamey at all, either.
I'm looking forward to trying that beef stew, the sambusas, and the rice. I had Somali rice that someone's mom made at a picnic once and it was really good, with turmeric and cinnamon and raisins.