Friday, February 27, 2009

Karibu Ethiopian

Karibu means "welcome" in Swahili (according to the menu), and this is a welcome addition to the multi-ethnic restaurant scene here. Located about a 1/2 mile east of IH-35 on East 7th and Attayac, Karibu seems to deliver on authentic Ethiopian tastes.

Weekdays, they have a lunch buffet, which is always a fun way to try lots of different things, and this didn't disappoint! From the photo of my plate of food, going more or less clockwise from the top: injera (the burrito-looking bread), fosolia (green beans), tikil gomen (cabbage, in the middle to the left of the rice, alicha wot (beef in a light curry herb sauce), kay wot (beef with onion, garlic, ginger & berbere spices), kik alicha (yellow split peas), kay misir wot (red lentils in a spicy sauce), and something that was just labeled as "Ethiopian bread." Not pictured, are the abesha gomen (collard greens w/ spices), but I did have a bite off someone else's plate. Everything was good, but what I really thought was outstanding (and I went back for more) were both the kay misir wot lentils and the kay wot beef dish. Both really had a nice layer of flavors -- mildly sweet, then flavorful and a touch spicy, those berbere spices at work! The beef particularly has a certain richness to it; the menu says it's cooked with purified butter (ghee?) which may account for that, as well as it's shine, without a greasy feel. Their injera is made of both teff and barley, but apparently one can order ahead of time an all-teff, and hence gluten free, injera. It was a very tender injera, and didn't taste quite as fermented (the dough takes about 3 days to make) as those I have had before.

Now I certainly don't claim to be an expert on Ethiopian food, and I have enjoyed the food of Aster's, both from the farmer's market and their restaurant; it's been a while since I have eaten their food, so I will have to revisit Aster's to compare. I would love to come back to Karibu and try the lamb dish that's on their menu. They had friendly service, and according to their website, live music on Fri and Sat nights. Worth a trip from South Austin to East Austin, for sure!

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