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May 28, 2010 07:28 PM

best Ethiopian in vancouver?

On a mission to find the best ethiopian food in the city. Been to Nyala recently, which was sub-par, and Addis on commercial, which was pretty decent.

The remaining contenders are:
axum, harambee, red sea, fassil, gojo.

Anyone want to weigh in?

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  1. Fassil is good for food quality and value, but the room and ambiance is somewhat hole-in-wall. Don't expect lavish service nor decor there.

    It's been forever since I last been to Nyala's (when they were on Alma !), and I've never been to the others you listed so I can't say how good Fassil is in comparison.

    6 Replies
    1. re: LotusRapper

      Red Sea-wonderful food, charming service, tasteful tidy little operation.

      FWIW-last I was in the place on Commercial you mention there was drug dealing going on @ the bar and people using in the toilet.

      Also Nyala was never on Alma but 4th Ave and has always been mediocre.

      1. re: Sam Salmon

        Sam, Nyala's very first location was on Alma just south of W. 4th. This was more than 20 years ago.

        1. re: LotusRapper

          The address is 2090 Alma and IIRC that wasn't Nyala but another Ethiopian operation-much better than Nyala ever was but not as long lived.

          I could be wrong but I remember that place as having the same Chef as the Ethiopian place on S Granville that closed a few years back.

          1. re: Sam Salmon

            Sorry to tell you Sam, but it was Nyala on Alma. I ate there. Twice. Once with my then-GF (now wife).

      2. re: LotusRapper

        yes, I also went to nyala year's ago, when they were on Alma. Since the move to Main, I have to say they gone downhill...

        1. re: tangentdesign

          I used to like the $10.95 Wednesday veg buffets at Nyala (it was on 4th near Bayswater, right near our house) but was never too excited about their meat dishes. I haven't been since they moved because there are so many other restos in that area of Main. I'm interested to hear the verdict overall as I don't know much about Ethiopian food.

      3. DINING REPORT: Ended up at Harambe restaurant on commercial drive and the experience was positive. Skipped the various entrees on offer and went for the most interactive menu item - the meat/veggie combo platter. For those who have never had Ethiopian, I think this is the place to start. You receive a large platter in the centre of the table which contains a layer of pancake like injera (essentially sourdough flatbread made of fermented teff flour) spotted with mulit-coloured puddles of veggie stews around the outside ring and meat stews on the inner circle. With a generous side plate of rolls of more injera, you rip off pieces and scoop up the delicious concoctions with your hands. The food came pretty fast and was more than enough for two of us. Everything was subtly spiced, almost floral tasting, with hints of ginger, cloves, coriander and allspice. Pretty well everything on the menu is about $12 per person unless you stick with vegetables and then you'll get by with about $8. It's quite a bargain and a novel way of eating. I think foodie-in-training kids would get a kick out of it. My only quibble was that they went very conservative on the chilies so it wasn't as hot as I would have wanted. If you tell them your level of tolerance, they'll probably customize to your taste. There's plenty left on the menu to warrant another visit - stews served with cottage cheese, an ethiopian take on beef tartar (Kitfo), a couple of grilled fish dishes, and banana desserts.

        - paul

        Harambe Restaurant
        2149 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N4B3, CA

        4 Replies
        1. re: tangentdesign

          Thanks for the report Paul. The last time I was at Harambe was almost a year ago (for lunch). It was good indeed and was good value. I haven't yet been to Gojo just up the road. It might be a good throwdown - between Harambe and Gojo.

          1. re: tangentdesign

            havent been to ethiopia to know what real ethiopian food taste like. but i understand that there are different varieties of teff flour. some based on the region and the elevation of the mountain it is cultivated. the ones you find here are prob not the best ones, I've heard. to me it is a unique bread/pancake. most similar to some version of the south indian dosai/thosai.
            I agree that nyala isnt that impressive. nor any of the others that I've tried. been to the one on commercial 5 years ago, not sure if it was called harambe.. . It was ok. A tad better than red sea. generally i did find the food a bit bland. not sure if they would turn the spice or heat up if they were not cooking for none Ethiopians.
            would love to try an Ethiopian feast.

            1. re: betterthanbourdain

              An Afghan feast would rock !

              Speaking of rock, our resident belly dancer/foodie/rocker whose initials are "B.Y.":


              1. re: betterthanbourdain

                I always ask for Berbere on the side-as complex as it sometimes is one of the main ingredients is Chile.