Sunday, July 10, 2005
Ethiopian Dinner At Fassica
Beckoning me from all angles has been the call to try Ethiopian cuisine. A number of reviews from bloggers like Sarah at the Delicious Life and conversations with friends prompted G and I to check out Fassica in Culver City. It is located on the north-west corner of Washington Blvd and Motor Ave. Though in Los Angeles most Ethiopian restaurants are clustered in an area know as Little Ethiopia (Fairfax District), it is welcome to have one located a bit closer to our home.
It was a fairly late dinner for us as we didn't arrive until 8:30pm. Parking was no problem as there are a number of spaces directly in front of the restaurant. For those who are not familiar with the area, Fassica is located directly across the street from Sony Studios, a very busy, traffic congested area by day. This Friday night, the intersection was fairly dark with little traffic. The only indication the restaurant was open was for two other cars parked outside and a lit "open" sign in the window.
As we entered Fassica's, we noted two other tables of diners. We were directed to sit at any table we pleased. A very personable young waitress came to our table with menus. We ordered a bottle of wine and reviewed the menu. I mentioned to G, that most of the reviews I previously read were for diners who ventured there during the lunch hour. They described that the cook/owner usually was the only person manning the restaurant during the day serving also as the waitress. Tonight there were two waitresses, an older lady in the kitchen (cook) and an older gentleman behind the cash register.
Set up in front of the cash register area was an electric piano and microphones. Possibly entertainment tonight.
Our waitress returned with a room temperture bottle of Pignot Grigio and she then painstakingly opened the bottle to pour nearly to the rim two glasses of wine. Though the wine was good, it would have been better cold. Oh how I wished for a couple of ice cubes. I even asked for a glass of water hoping there would be ice cubes in it. Nope, I got room temperature water. I didn't complain. We were ready to order. I recommened to G that we get the $22.00 combination platter for two as were not familiar with the cuisine and that woud be a good way to try a variety of dishes. I also commented that I was surprised there was a knife and fork on the table as Ethiopian meals are meant to be eaten with your hands by using a sponge-like bread called injera.
After we placed our order, we conversed not noting that the entertainment had arrived. Something we were not expecting, the sound of the Captain and Tennille's- Love Will Keep Us Together was sung by let me say, a non-Ethiopian 40ish woman, accompanied on piano by a 50ish also non-Ethiopian man. (Wouldn't have predicted this.) Though they were good and entertaining, it just didn't fit the cuisine. Let me also add, that during the course of the evening, a number of "guest" singers also performed.
After about 10-15 minutes, our waitress delivered a large platter of our entree and an accompanying basket of injera bread. There were 10 different items on the platter. I asked the waitress to describe them however, her english was quite poor and she was unable to really explain each dish. Presentation was colorful and inviting. G and I dug in, tearing off pieces of the injera bread and scooping up flavor after flavor. It was quite tasty though some dishes were served cold and others were warm (not hot). I wasn't sure if that's the way it was supposed to be. We were not asked if we wanted anything prepared extra spicy so I believe all the spicy dishes were "gringo" style. Heck, I would have preferred some heat.
What did we have? Because the waitresses' descriptions were not toally understood by me and I wasn't sure of the names of the dishes, I relied on reviewing other Ethiopian web site menus for similarly described dishes.
Starting at the left hand side of the picture and going left to right to left to right upwards (confused you?)
1-A potato like dish spiced with garlic and ginger flavors.
2-Yatakilt Alitcha – a steamed vegetable combination of cabbage, carrots, and potatoes seasoned with garlic, onion, and ginger.
3- Pumpkin Wot made with chunks of the pumpkin and seasoned with tasty spices .
4-Yemiser Wot- Split Lentil in red pepper sauce, seasoned with assorted spices.
5-Doro wot - a stew of a cut of chicken stewed in pepper sauce with an assortment of spices simmered in flavorful sauce, with incised hardboiled egg.
6-Ayib- Ethiopian-style farmer's cheese.
7- Gomen- Chopped collard greens
8-Kitfo Mitmike- ground beef cooked with hot chilies
9-Yebere Siga tibs- slices of beef cooked with rosemary, onions, carrots, spices, and hot peppers. 10-Yebeg Tibs- lamb dish (our least favorite as it was quite tough and hard to eat)
Though we enjoyed the meal, it didn't rock our world. I think we'll have to do as others, that is ventrue to other Ethiopian restaurants to compare and contrast. I believe we would probably return to Fassica, hoping the entertaining duo and guest vocalist won't be there.