While I enjoy walking along Broadway and sampling the varieties of food that the trucks have to offer, when the weather produces the kind of temperatures and humidity that were on display yesterday, it’s nice to have an air-conditioned place to pop into to enjoy my lunch. Kokeb, an Ethiopian restaurant, for many years located on Ellice Avenue, but now on Edmonton Street is such a place.
Kokeb’s lunch offering is a vegetarian buffet priced at $8.99. True, there are only 9 items in the buffet, but there is still plenty of variety in those 9 items. Start with the Injera, the homemade Ethiopian style bread, which you may use as a utensil as well. If you are not quite ready to eat with your fingers, there are forks available. Given that the dishes are all cooked in sauces, you won’t find the vegetables crisp, but they retain firmness when you bite into them.
If you’re not in the mood for a buffet, Kokeb also has a menu that features a wide range of Ethiopian Dishes.Among the many fine dishes on the Kokeb menu is Doro Wat, the best known Ethiopian dish. When I tried it, the chicken was well cooked yet still moist and tender, the egg was hard-boiled and the dish was well seasoned with Berbere, the traditional Ethiopian spice. Berbere is on of those wonderful spices that adds interesting flavour at the same time it adds heat. If you are feeling more adventurous, you might want to try the Dulet Kitfo. This is a dish somewhat similar to a tatare, in that the meat is only warmed in butter rather than thoroughly cooked through. I tried it, to no ill effect, and the one thing I really liked about this dish was that it came with Berbere on the side to allow me to control the heat to my heart’s content.
Kokeb does offer a breakfast, which I haven’t tried, but the best time to come is for lunch or for dinner. The food on offer is well prepared, and well seasoned throughout the menu from the fire of the Berbere, down to the more delicately season butter based dishes. If you come for something other than the buffet, prepare for a bit of a wait. Ethiopian food is slow food in the best sense of the term. It is food meant to be enjoyed at leisure with family and friends around the table. While cutlery is available, do trying using the Injera and eating with your fingers, at least once. The service is leisurely, but friendly and attentive. The decor is mainly dark wood, and the walls are covered with a variety of pieces or Ethiopian art and photographs. There are large screen TVs usually broadcasting sporting events, but they are easily tuned out if you want space for conversation, or as I generally dine alone, reading.