K and I went on another foodie run last Sunday. This time we traveled to 17th Ave SE for some ethnic cuisine, and we chose Fassil for Ethiopian. We drove up to a seemingly “closed” restaurant with a lady standing at the front door trying to get in. I got out of my car and asked her if she knew the restaurant was open since all the lights were off, and she said yes they are. Thinking back, K and I should’ve took this as a sign to leave and come back to try them at a later time when they’re more organized, but we were hopeful.
During our entire stay, three other groups came in and two of them left after waiting for a while which left us pondering. We knew there would be a bit of a wait for the food, but why did these people leave? Hmmmm. Our server, who was the lady we encountered at the door, was nice, but due to language barrier we had a really hard time understanding her. We think she is actually the cook and doesn’t normally serve. I pointed at the pictures on the menu and asked her what the items are, she couldn’t explain. So then we asked her to recommend something for us since it was our first time – except we still couldn’t understand her, so we decided on ordering two things – the meat combo and the vegetarian combo (or so we thought). What we got instead was this:
Meat and Vegetable Tibs – $25.00
Starting from the left hand side: Atakilt Wat, Gomen Wat, Shiro Wot, Kit Wot, and the meats we think are Yebeg Tibs – spicy and non-spicy*
So, what are these things?
Atakilt Wat – Spicy Potatoes, Cabbage & Carrots
Gomen Wat – Collard Greens
Shiro Wot – Chickpea Stew
Kit Wot – Red Lentil Stew
Yebeg Tibs – Sauteed Lamb Chunks
* Please feel free to correct me in the comments below if I got any of the items wrong
It was very interesting to see and eat this as it is our first encounter with Ethiopian food, and we liked mostly everything on the plate. I just didn’t realize that the Shiro Wot and Kot Wot was very spicy and they were our least favorite. As I only started eating milder forms of spicy food, they were very difficult for me to enjoy. I do have to say the texture of Shiro Wot reminded me of refried beans. I quite like the Atakilt Wat – they’re just like curry potatoes and the spices were a lot more toned down. The Gomen Wat was just like sauteed leafy greens – quite delicious. The lamb chunks were quite tasty and tender but the spicy one was once again, quite spicy. Good thing K can tolerate heat!
Side of Injera
This gigantic crepe thing tastes a bit like sourdough. K and I shared this one and left the one on the platter untouched as it filled us up really fast. Unfortunately it wasn’t properly warmed – it was actually a bit cold so you know they’re not freshly made to order. I don’t expect it to – I did read that it’s very tedious to make, but it should be at least served warm! The texture itself is spongy. We actually asked for a fork near the end to finish off the rest of the fillings as we didn’t want to eat the injera anymore. Here’s a shocking thing – the server had to wash a couple of forks for us. The restaurant is not exactly the tidiest – beer bottles and used glasses allover the front behind the cash register but really…? No clean cutlery on hand?
In regards to long service times, I would say we waited about 25 minutes for our food to come, seeing that we were the only customers in the restaurant at the time until another table arrived much later. Our server/cook was in the kitchen most of the time doing her thing. When customers arrived, she didn’t even notice until they went looking for her. To be honest, we still didn’t know if the restaurant was supposed to be open at that time even though Urbanspoon says they are, but there’s actually no posted hours at the restaurant.
The final blow was when we tried to settle our bill. Even though the server/cook made this order for us, she had no idea what to charge us. She called the owner multiple times to get a hold of her as the owner has to come in and figure out what to charge us. Why couldn’t they do that over the phone? So 45 minutes later she finally shows up. Really. 45 minutes to pay for our bill. That is definitely a new record for me.
Some of my friends kept assuring me that this is THE Ethiopian experience and Fassil does have the best Ethiopian food in the city, but I don’t understand why I have to put up with crap service when I’m a paying customer. Even though the food wasn’t bad, I don’t know if that’s enough to bring me back here.