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Page history last edited by Mark P 15 years, 5 months ago

Red Sea Review


as part of our Ethiopian crawl

Restaurant: Red Sea

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

Address: 5200 Claremont Avenue, Oakland, CA

Date Visited: Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Number of Participants: 4, including Mark (add your name if you are comfortable doing so)

Note: I'm not sure if this restaurant is related to the Red Sea restaurant in San Jose that my dining club visited five years.


Summary Impression

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We had pretty decent mild Ethiopian food at Rea Sea. Clearly not the worst place we've been to but also clearly not the best. -mark


Food and Presentation

Overall, even for items we ordered spicy, the spices in all the dishes tended to be simple and mild. I wouldn't, however, call them bland. As for presentation, everything came nicely laid out in one large platter, even with four separate small piles of salad for each of us. -mark

The food was not as spicy as we'd specifically asked for in general but they took care in presenting it well in a simple, traditional large platter with personal portions of injera and salad for each person. -n


Food Details: Banaut (beef and injera stew)

We expected something nicely spiced given the menu description, but this wasn't very flavorful. Or wet. What flavor existed was subdued when picked up with injera; it was better (and messier) when picked up directly with the injera already in the stew. (Using injera to pick up meat and more injera is inefficient...) Decent enough. -mark

A lot of the stew seemed to have been absorbed by the injera that was soaked in it, making the injera a little easier than one would expect and also making the beef devoid of most of the spices unless you coupled it with the stew soaked injera... scooping up the stew with extra injera seemed to throw the dish a little off balance... the beef was also not as tender as i'd expected (i always expect stew meat to melt in my mouth) and this was a little chewy). Overall though the flavors were decent and i'd like to try the dish without the injera soaked in it. -n

J thought this was one of the best dishes at the meal. Maybe she wants to add something? -mark


Food Details: Chicken with Spinach

When looking for another meat dish, the waitress suggested this one. We ordered it spicy but it turned out to be mild. Decent enough. -mark

This turned out to be my favorite dish although the other crawlers were less than impressed by it. It was once again milder than we'd all expected but I really enjoyed all the flavors and felt like the chicken and spinach combo was well propotioned and that it was quite flavorful overall. -n


Food Details: Collard Greens

Fairly standard; nothing makes it stand out. -mark

Not very remarkable. We've definitely had better and worse during this crawl. Seemed to be more of an afterthought at this meal whereas they've been the source of intense debate at other dinners :). -n


Food Details: Tomato Sauce Thing

Interesting. I initially thought this was the best thing because it had a little bit of spice to it, but I gradually realized the spicing itself was fairly simple. -mark

Another dish that I really enjoyed that seemed to not get the attention of the other crawlers. Spiciest of all the dishes (although not too spicy itself) and had an interesting end to the flavoring. Reminds me of a milder version of a tomato chutney my mom makes from scratch. -n


Food Details: Lentil/Beans

The lighter brown thing on the platter. We think it was lentils. Fairly enjoyable, nearly as much as the darker brown thing on the platter. -mark

Liked the lentils but wasn't blown away by the flavors as at other restaurants during this crawl. But I also found it hard to remember all the details of the other restaurants since it's been a while since our last ethiopian adventure. -n


Food Details: Split Peas

The darker brown thing on the platter. We think it was split peas. This was the favorite of a few of us. Definitely had a stronger tomato influence than virtually any vegetarian dish we've had at previous Ethiopian restaurants. (Editor's note: if this is true of the dishes in general, we should move this comment to the food and presentation section above.) Is that why we liked it so? I can't remember what other properties it had. -mark

Really enjoyed the split peas. Would love to try making this at home as an alternative to the basic lentils I'm always cooking up. Don't remember having had it at other Ethiopian restaurants and can't quite pinpoint what I liked most about it except that I enjoyed the flavors and this dish did melt in your mouth. -n


Food Details: Potatoes and Cauliflower

A decent, standard presentation. Sizable potato chunks. -mark

Nothing to write home about. Basic rendition of potatoes and cauliflower; escaped being bland by a thin margin. A spicier version would have definitely helped this dish quite a bit. -n


Food Details: Chickpeas (Shiro)

Disappointing; there was less flavor/"content" to it than the other renditions we've had. -mark

Decent overall. But we've had some amazing shiro before during this crawl and so in comparison we were all disappointed. -n


Food Details: Honey Wine

The honey wine didn't appeal to us much. To its credit, it elicited an "Oh, wow!" from one attendee, who then remarked how amazing it was that most honey wines we've had have been so different from each other. As for the taste, this orange-colored wine was tangy with a hard to describe odor. Most people agreed the flavor reminded them of kombucha (fermented tea). Finally, it had lots of sediment settle out of it, certainly more than any other honey wine we've imbibed. -mark

Interesting, we mis-spoke and ordered a bottle instead of a half-liter or liter. To give us a bottle, they took one of their empty bottles of African wine and filled it up with honey wine. It cost us more than a liter flask and provided less liquid. (Not that we minded the latter, as we hadn't yet finished the bottle by the time we finished eating.) -mark

I'm starting to think that I might be the only one who appreciates honey wine's various renditions in this group. I think of it as another dish made by most of these people in-house. I especially liked this rendition (i also love kombucha) and found it to be one with a really complex flavor and enjoyed the fizzy edge at the end of each sip. -n


Food Details: Salads provided on the platter

Tiny green salads with tomatoes and a vinegar dressing sat in four small piles on the platter, one for each of us. Pepper-less and not particularly exciting, even together they wouldn't make as large a salad as most other restaurants have served us. -mark

Another side dish that has been much debated in the past but didn't even get our attention this time around. Basic salad with nothing to write home about. -n


Food Details: Injera

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

The injera was warm, invidually portioned and tender (we've only had dry edges/almost stale injera once during this crawl). Unlike the rest of the food or the honey wine, it seems like all the restaurants have the same injera recipe. I wouldn't be able to distinguish it if I were to do a blind taste test. -n


Food Details: Coffee

Coffee was the same standard bitter stuff we've found at most other Ethiopian places. -mark

Coffee has been less exciting than we'd have expected when we first started this crawl. Nothing spectacular here either. Although it wasn't burnt, it was a little bitter. -n


Food Details: Harar Beer

O had a bottle of a decent, pale Ethiopian beer. It matched the rest of the meal in quality -- good enough to make us happy, but certainly not first-rate. -mark

Didn't try the beer. -n


Atmosphere & Decor

Decent enough decor. Fairly dark. They played easy listening music during some of the time we were there, and later played some high energy music that was a cross between Middle Eastern and African. -mark

Decent decor. Tried to have somewhat of a traditional look and feel with some paintings on the walls and a couple of screens, mood lighting and traditional music. The metal table and chairs (which we've encountered at most of the places during the crawl) don't add anything to the atmosphere. -n

Around the corner from our last outing, this was in an only slightly sketchy neighborhood. -mark



Service was a bit slow, in terms of both food and wine delivery. -mark

Didn't notice the slow service. But then, this was the first time that we were running late. -n


Miscellaneous (Other Remarks, Interesting Stories, etc.)

"Can you imagine getting mad at Mark?"

"No," answered without hesitation.

"No," answered without hesitation.

"Yeah," also answered without hesitation.

I know out of context this makes little sense. The conversation in which it came up was about how easy we found it to be assertive with/angry at strangers (e.g., rude baristas). Some people found it easier with strangers, others with friends. And someone said she only got visibly angry with friends, at which point I complained she'd never been angry with me (that I could recall). That's when the scene above happened. -mark

Also, a rarity for these outings: the conversation over dinner never turned to gender issues. -mark

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