Two thumbs-up for Assimba's fiery finger food
Assimba is a Central District fixture where spicy Ethiopian fare is scooped up with pieces of spongy crepe you hold between your fingers.
Seattle Times reporter
2722 E. Cherry St., Seattle
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Closed Sundays.
Etc: Street parking; Visa and MasterCard; wine and beer; wheelchair accessible.
Finally, my first picnic of the summer.
Sure, it took place at a restaurant, and I was seated in a chair sharing a table with good friends. But picnics, for me, are all about finger food, and there's nothing but at Assimba, a Central District fixture where spicy Ethiopian fare is scooped up with pieces of spongy crepe you hold between your fingers.
It's a joyful way to eat, and it connects you to the food in a way that feels more intimate than anything I've consumed with a fork or chop sticks.
Ethiopians take cooking seriously, toasting and blending their own spices, and adding them sequentially to food that is often cooked slowly for hours. The result is complex flavors that are well worth waiting for.
The menu: Well-organized and helpful for those new to Ethiopian cuisine. Vegetarian dishes (all $8.50) include a variety of legumes and vegetables cooked in onion, garlic and ginger. Chicken, beef and lamb dishes ($10-$11) are served in a variety of sauces, most of which pack some heat. Dishes are served family style on injera, the spongy, slightly sour crepes made from teff, a tiny grain native to Ethiopia. All come with a no-frills salad. Meat dishes also are available as half-dishes for $6.50.
Fish stew and daily fish specials are $13, as are the vegetable and meat combos that allow you to sample three or four dishes communally.
What to write home about: The kitfo, a delectable combination of minced beef with spiced butter, and mitmito, a powdered spice blend that includes chili peppers, cardamom seed, cloves and ginger. No law of diminishing returns here — every fiery bite held its own. The only sad part of the meal was when it was gone.
What to skip: It may be that the kitfo was so outstanding, but the gored-gored (cubed beef sautéed in pepper sauce and spiced butter) in the meat combo seemed lackluster by comparison.
The setting: Homey, with soothing yellow walls, bright curtains and embroidered linen tablecloths topped with glass. Fifteen tables in two dining areas offer ample seating.
Summing up: Full orders of the beef combo, doro wat (chicken and egg in a smoky, spicy sauce) and gomen wot (chopped collards) fed three adults, with enough left over for another meal. Total: $41.60, with tip.
Susan Kelleher: 206-464-2508 or email@example.com
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