I’d only had Ethiopian food once in DC, but I instantaneously loved two things about it: the spicy nature of the foods, and the fact that eating with ones hands was not only allowed … but mandatory. Some friends and I opted to try Awash, a restaurant with one location downtown in the East Village (where we went) and one further uptown, close to Columbia University.
We wanted to start off with the chicken sambusas, but they were out of them, so meat sambusas it was. Sambusas are pastry shells filled with spiced chopped beef. The flavor of the meat was spicy, but not spicy-hot, more of a flavor-intense spicy. Honestly, it was the highlight of the meal. I would definitely say don’t skip on appetizers here.
We also wanted to try their honey wine, which is the Ethiopian specialty. The staff was great and let us sample both types before choosing which one to purchase. The red was almost a rose and seemed a bit too strong to pair with spicy foods. The white honey wine was crisp and sweet without being too sweet, so we went with that one. Perfect and very unique. Highly recommend.
For our main course, most of us opted for the combo platter, where you can choose two meats and three vegetables. I went with the gomen (collard greens cooked with onions, garlic, and green peppers) , the shiro (crowned chick peas, mildly spiced, cooked with chopped onions and tomatoes) and the yatakilt alicha (cabbage, carrots, potatoes, seasoned with peppers, onions, and garlic). The collard greens and the chickpea dish were definitely the best, especially when smooshed into some injera, that fabulous spongy bread that is plentifully brought out throughout the meal. Love injera.
For my meats, I wanted to do one chicken and one lamb. For chicken, I tried the Doro Alicha, which was chicken cooked in kibe (an herb butter), onions, and green peppers. For lamb, I elected to try the Yebeg Alicha Fitfit, which was lamb also cooked in butter with onions and green peppers. I did not care for the lamb. I rarely eat lamb so on the occasions when I do I find its distinct flavor a real treat. Here, however, I found the meat to be fatty and not very flavorful at all. Similarly, the chicken was good, but I found I was mixing it in with my vegetables as I smooshed it into my injera, so I wouldn’t say it would be my choice either for next time. I’d recommend the Bozena Shiro, which is spicy ground beef with roasted yellow split peas cooked in their traditional berbere sauce. I just wanted to steal all of my friend’s since it was much better than my selection.
There weren’t really desserts available. I’d suggest a stroll around the corner to Butter Lane for a cupcake. The chocolate cake with espresso icing is my current favorite…
Awash – 228 East 6th Street (Between 1st/2nd Ave) – 212.982.9589