The first time I had a true authentic Ethiopian meal was in Washington DC on a business trip. DC is known for having several great Ethiopian restaurants and I had been looking forward to partaking of this ethnic cuisine. The restaurant we dined at was called Dukem, and it was delicious; I have been waiting for another meal like that ever since. I am happy to say that Salt Lake City has a few new Ethiopian restaurants, and Blue Nile offered us one of the best meals we had eaten in a while.
Blue Nile opened this past year in the old space on State Street where vegan restaurant, Evergreen, used to be. Blue Nile has completely redone the place and the space is clean, fresh, and comfortable. We were greeted warmly and the service was great. We wanted to try several things, so we started with the veggie Yemisir Sambusas ($4.99), the Tej Ethiopian Wine (honey cider wine), and the authentic Ethiopian St. George light beer.
The Sambusas were tasty – full of lentils and spices, and the crust was light. The honey cider wine was also good, but definitely make note that this is a very sweet wine with a slight syrupy texture. It is very delicious, but I can really only drink one glass of it. Also, Ethiopian beer is awesome. The St. George lager was dry and had a good kick with some mild floral hoppiness. We were off to a great start.
In order to try several different flavors, we ordered the Meat Combination platter ($12.99) as well as the Veggie Combination platter ($9.99).
The Meat Combination came with Kay Wot (finely chopped prime beef sauteed in Ethiopian clarified butter, and simmered in a spicy sauce seasoned with spiecs and fresh herbs), Yesiga Alicha (tender prime beef (boneless and on the bone) sauteed and simmered in a spicy sauce seasoned with spices and fresh herbs), and Doro Wot (two tender chicken legs simmered in spicy sauce seasoned with spices and herbs. Served with one hard-boiled egg).
The Veggie Combination platter came with Tegabino Shiro (pureed split peas cooked with red onions, garlic), Yemisir Wot (split lentils simmered in spicy hot sauce), Ater Alicha (yellow split peas simmered in a mild and flavorful onion and her sauce, mild), and Gomen (fresh collard green simmered in mild sauce seasoned with spice and herbs, mild).
Dining in Ethiopia is characterized by the ritual of breaking injera (Ethiopian bread) and eating from the same plate, so each of these combination platters were served on one dish–on top of a large piece of injera bread. It was also served with more injera on the side. Injera is a very interesting and flavorful bread – it has a squishy, sponge-like texture that is very soft and absorbent. You eat the different meats and veggies by using the injera is the eating vessel – no silverware needed. The sour flavor of the injera bread goes amazingly well with all of the Ethiopian flavors; the large piece that the meal sits on ends up being the best part, as all of the sauces and flavors soak into the bread. It is amazing!
There wasn’t one flavor on this plate that wasn’t delicious. We especially like the tender chicken legs and the green beans. Everything was bursting with its individual flavor, but each item also went with the other – mixing and matching split peas and chopped prime beef was outstanding.
We left feeling VERY full and VERY happy. I have a feeling this is going to be a regular spot for us – it is comfort food, it is interesting, and it is delicious. Thank you, Blue Nile, for bringing this amazing food to Salt Lake City!
Please check out this fantastic, authentic restaurant for yourself.
Have you been there already? Share your favorite dish in the comments!
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