Tag Archives: injera

Zoma Ethiopian Cuisine in Cleveland Heights

It seems like every day, a new restaurant is opening in Cleveland, news we are always glad to hear. Recently, Cleveland added a second Ethiopian restaurant to its burgeoning dining scene, Zoma (2240 Lee Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118), a place we have been dying to try for months. Zoma was opened in late 2016 by Ethiopian expats Zeleke Belete and his wife, Betty Kassa. Zoma is small, and fills up pretty quickly, so it is best to call ahead and get a reservation. We were lucky enough to barely squeeze in on Friday evening, sitting around a small traditional table, or mesob. The menu at Zoma is compact, but hits all of the Ethiopian classics, with nine meat dishes ($13.99-17.99) and six vegetarian dishes ($ 11.99-12.99). We were happy to see some of our favorite dishes were there, including spicy chicken stew (Doro Wot – $15.99), with berbere spices and onions; mild beef stew (Alicha Wot – $14.75) with garlic, ginger and turmeric.

The best way to try a little bit of everything at Zoma is to get a sampler. You can get a veggie sampler with either 4 or 5 items ($14.99 or 15.99) or a combination platter ($18.75) with spicy beef stew, mild beef stew and two vegetarian menu items. Since we were 3 people, we upped the ante and got the Zoma Special combo ($32.99), a combination of beef tibs, spicy beef stew, mild beef stew, spicy chicken stew, homemade cottage cheese and 5 vegetarian menu items. Our vegetarian selections were the split red lentils with berbere, split yellow peas with onions, chickpeas, green peas and carrots with tomatoes, and cabbage and potatoes with garlic and ginger curry. We started off our dinner with vegetarian sambusas ($3.5), the East African version of samosas, filled with chickpeas and accompanied by a super-spicy plum hot sauce.

As you can see from the photo above, the injera flatbread came out fully loaded with our selections. Using the extra injera on the side, we sopped up all of the stews. All of the dishes were delicious: the meat was tender, and all of the dishes were expertly spiced. Nothing was too spicy, so this would be a great place for newcomers to Ethiopian food. We especially liked the spicy beef tibs and the split yellow peas, and we loved being able to try all of Zoma’s offerings. The only downside is that you have to pay for each refill of injera ($2), the spongy flatbread that serves as a utensil. I guess that keeps us injera fiends in check. Zoma also has a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony on Sunday afternoons, and you could preview the Jebena (coffee pot) setup in the dining room. We can’t wait to go back for the coffee ceremony and another crucial injera fix.
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Den Den: Eritrean Cuisine in Chicago

EritreanFlagBelieve it or not, we had actually already been to a few Eritrean places (not to mention many more Ethiopian ones) before sampling Den Den in Chicago (6635 N. Clark). Our first experience with Eritrean food was at the venerable Dahlak, way back in Philadelphia, before we had this blog. Philadelphia was where our foodie explorations really went into full swing, so we have a special place for the foods we learned to really like there (Vietnamese, Thai, Eritrean). Since then we have also sampled Eritrean in Washington DC at Keren, the ultimate hotbed of East African food in the US. But back to Chicago – Den Den is a quiet, inviting restaurant with a lot of light coming in from wraparound windows and big wooden tables. The Eritrean menu had a lot of overlap with Ethiopian restaurants in the area, but there were definitely some differences, and we noticed an absence of Wat dishes. And there was even spaghetti with meat sauce, something of an odd duck, but usually available at Eritrean places (and some Ethiopian) due to lingering Italian colonial influence.

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