Welcome to week two of Black-owned business reviews here at CT Eats! Last week, I enjoyed the soulful Southern splendor of the Sweet Potato Pie Place, so this week we’re switching gears and jumping across the pond to Zemeta Ethiopian. I had only had Ethiopian food once before this occasion, so I have to admit up front that I am no expert in this field. However, while I can’t judge the individual dishes for what they are (as in I can usually judge whether something like pizza is good because I know what it should be), I can judge my overall dining experience in terms of flavor, texture, mouth feel, etc.
Let’s kick this off with a nice, relaxing beverage. To warm myself up on a brisk Rochester day, I decided to try out the hot tea. Still not sure exactly what kind of tea it was, but it had the warmth, spice, and flavor of a chai. It was light, aromatic, and wonderfully soothing. It was a perfectly good cuppa, and I would recommend.
Moving along, it is my absolute honor to inform you wonderful folks about Zemeta’s positively fantastic sambusa. The outside was scrumptiously crisp and flaky and just slightly chewy. Although I can’t tell you exactly what the filling was, what I can tell you is that this sambusa was generously stuffed with a medium-heat filling flavored with warm, rich spices. It was like a slightly spicy samosa. I loved it so much, and oh my God I’m craving it again so badly right now just thinking about it, wow.
Continuing with foods that I loved eating even though I had no idea what I was putting in my mouth: For my entree, I ordered a special combination platter of, according to their GrubHub menu: kitfo, tibs, doro wet, and ayeb. I didn’t know which thing was which, but it truly didn’t matter because I loved it all, so I’m just gonna go piece by piece and do my best.
I’ll start out with the injera, which is Ethiopian flatbread that tastes quite a bit like sourdough. There were numerous rolls of injera topping the meats, and they were the perfect complement. They are thin, spongey, and slightly chewy with a savory tangy flavor, which both stood out on its own and worked well in conjunction with the meats. It worked wonders for scooping up the stew’s meats, which made for some great cutlery-free fun! 10/10 would recommend.
The first meat dish on the platter I tried was the kitfo, which is spiced minced beef tartar. The last time I reviewed an Ethiopian place, which was two years ago, my friend ordered the kitfo. I thought it sounded and looked so good, and I’ve truly been thinking about it and wanting to try it ever since. And this one was well worth the wait! It was extremely tender, fresh, and heavily seasoned in a way that was light upon first bite — so you’d get a hint of that nice fresh beef flavor — and then the spice would build into a warm, peppery heat that just hits the back of your throat afterwards. Taste-and-texture-wise, this dish lit up my mouth, and I would absolutely order it again.
Next up, there was a chicken stew that I believe was the doro wet. Texturally, I found the meat to be a bit tough. However, that wasn’t the biggest deal since the chunks were cut up so small that you couldn’t tell too much. Flavor-wise, this dish was seasoned with the same warm, rich spices as the last and had a light, very mild heat that wakes up the taste buds in just the right way. The mild heat of this curry worked well to balance the other slightly spicier meats. The chunks of onion brought a lovely sweetness and slight crispness to the stew.
The final meat dish of the platter was the tibs, which my Google research tells me is a hybrid stir fry stew. The meat of this one was beautifully tender and had more of a gamey flavor. It had some of the same warm spices, but also a bit of acidity and sweetness. The flavor of this stew was unique, exciting, and overall quite delicious.
All of the meats were flavorful and paired splendidly with the tangy injera, which highlighted the flavors of the curries. Overall, this meal could be described as warm, rich, flavorful, spicy, tangy, hearty, and really unique! My one complaint was that I found the curries too oily, which can be off-putting. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this meal. And the portion was so gargantuan that I absolutely got my money’s worth and was totally satisfied (and filled to the brim) by the end of the day.
It had been so long since I’d had Ethiopian food, simply because I usually forget about it when ordering and go for typical Asian takeout instead. I am so pleased that I finally got around to it, and I would absolutely recommend Zemeta if you’re looking to get around to it as well. Please remember to keep on supporting the Black-owned businesses in your area!