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Page history last edited by Mark P 15 years, 7 months ago

Asmara Restaurant Review


as part of our Ethiopian crawl

Restaurant: Asmara Restaurant

Home Page: http://www.asmararestaurant.com/

Address: 5020 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA

Date Visited: Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

Number of Participants: 5, including Mark (add your name if you are comfortable doing so)


Summary Impression

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We had quite consistently good food in a nice atmosphere at Asmara Restaurant. -mark


Food and Presentation

All but one of the dishes were good, and we were uniformly pleased with the quality of the vegetarian dishes. -mark

We usually ooh and ahhh when the food is delivered and this place was certainly no exception. All the food came on one single white porcelain platter which was also deeper than the other previous platters. The contrast with the white made the food stand out. -mark

After cleaning the platter, we saw it had a nice pattern of roses. N claimed this was identical to a dish her family used while she was growing up. -mark

I was a bit bothered that we didn't have plates, if only to put down the big roll of injera so we didn't have to hold it the whole meal and to make spilling/making a mess less embarrassing. -mark


Food Details: Lamb Curry (Ye-Beg Alicha)

Description: "Cubes of lamb, stewed with curry and spices"

Quite good. Lamb itself was fine but not great quality. -mark


Food Details: Seared Steak (Gored Gored)

Description: "Cubes of tenderloin tips served very rare in awaze and butter dip (hot/spicy)"

Easily the worst dish we had. Most pieces were tough or chewy. But the sauce, a vinegary concoction with a spicy kick at the end, we quite good. -mark


Food Details: Ground Peas (Shiro)

Description: "Roasted grounds peas cooked in berbere sauce"

Quite spicy (that's the berbere sauce!), very smooth, and definitely good. One of my favorites. -mark


Food Details: Mustard Greens (Ye-Gomen Alicha)

Description: "Mustard greens simmered in Asmara's special spices"

Jo and O definitely endorsed the mustard greens. And they were right. They were quality in texture and flavor. -mark


Food Details: Yellow Split Peas (Kik Alicha)

Description: "Yellow split peas in mild yellow sauce"

By a slight margin, in my opinion the least good of the vegetarian dishes because it was a bit dry and more bland than the others. But I still enjoyed it. -mark


Food Details: Red Lentils (Temtmo/Yemissir Watt)

Description: "Red lentil stew marinated in berbere sauce and spices"


Food Details: Honey Wine

They make their own honey wine (like Cafe Eritrea d'Afrique, and it turned out roughly as well). None of us were excited by it. In short, with a mild fizz (almost flat), it tasted like some combination of water, orange juice, and alcohol. N's hypothesis is that they took three-quarters of a carafe of good quality honey wine and watered it down to a full carafe. -mark


Food Details: Salads provided on the platter

We enjoyed the fresh salad and dressing (more so than at some other places). One person complained it needed more pepper, but I think this opinion was in the minority. The main trouble with the salad is the crumbled cheese they covered it with; the "cheese" was described as bland, "cardboard," or perhaps more accurately as "dried-out ricotta." In any case the salad was much better before the cheese was added and many of us tried to push it away to get at the salad itself. -mark


Food Details: Injera

The injera was fine; I can't distinguish the tastes of this from one restaurant to the next. -mark

The size of each basket of injera shrunk as the meal progressed. The first two baskets had three pieces each; the next one we asked for had two; the final one we asked for had only one. -mark


Food Details: Coffee

Two people said the coffee was okay; one said it was good. -mark


Food Details: Mixed Fruit Drink



Atmosphere & Decor

Asmara Restaurant has two adjacent rooms: one very basic with white walls and no ambiance, and the one in which we ate, with subdued lighting, numerous paintings of African scenes, and nice pictures displayed under the glass tabletops. I liked the paintings on the wall. They also induced a discussion of weapons, for each had farmers with some sort of arms, whether rifles or spears. -mark



Service was slow. We hypothesize this is because they make all the food from scratch rather than keep some dishes prepared and heat them up when someone orders them. -mark

Service was very confused. Examples include not understanding we knew what we were doing at an Ethiopian place, and having trouble with some people wanting coffee while others were still finishing eating. -mark


Miscellaneous (Other Remarks, Interesting Stories, etc.)

Again we had a long evening of conversation until we were nearly the last to leave the restaurant. This time we talked about things including being "excessively committed to" a relationship, recent and forthcoming travels, and the merits of various web browsers. -mark

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