In A Delicious Ethiopian Minute
This post is officially J. Slab inspired. Slab and I have had quite a number of food adventures, walking 54 blocks for a cheese steak in Greenwich Village, and scouting Vietnamese goodies in deep Brooklyn. But Slab has never made it to Rehobot, a restaurant beautiful in its simplicity in Kampala's Kabalagala neighborhood. Now, I've heard Kabalagala called the Vegas of Uganda. If this is true, then the Strip is a 500m long road packed with street meat vendors, peanut slingers, bars and their prostitutes, corner preachers, bums and restaurants bringing fare from Congo, Eritrea, Kenya and Tanzania.
My favorite 'ex-pat' population in Kabalagala is the Ethiopians. Maybe it's because I'm from DC (which hosts a Little Ethiopia), because they count Bob Marley and the Queen of Sheeba among their icons, or because any afternoon of the week you can find a table of Ethiopian dissident exiled journalist with eyes glazed over from chewing too much quat. Regardless, Ethiopians get the edge up because of the delicious eats at Rehobot.
The hierarchy of Ethiopian restaurants in Kabalagala goes like this: If you want to impress a girl or have a taste for swank, you go to Fasika Up the road is Ethiopian Village, a moderately priced restaurant and bar. Few venture beyond luminaries on the Kabalagala scene. However, down the road, nestled between two local dive bars, lies, as J. Slab would say, the epicenter of delicious.
Rehobot is a humble spot. It hosts 4 tables and a pool table, and is presided over by Mamma, with her two deputies, her 9-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son. Mama makes beef and vegetarian miracles with the fundamental elements of Ethiopian cuisine: injara (spongy sourdough flatbread), berbere (strong red chili powder) and niter kebbeh (light butter spiced with ginger and garlic).
I'm at Rehobot usually 4/5 times per week, but two dishes are central to arsenal. The vegetarian Mixed Plate is savory sauté of potatoes, cabbage, and my favorite, misr, a brown lentil stew, all served on a plate of injara. The other dish is kitfo, ground beef marinated in spicy mitmita. Also served on injara, this dish is akin to the tastiest hamburger I've ever had.
After eating, I usually stick around to have a cup of coffee or tea and chat with the colorful and friendly clientele from all over the Horn of Africa. The coffee is espresso style: brewed strong. Their black tea is perfectly steeped with cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom and sugar.
I've pursued Ethiopian delicious on at least three continents, and Rehobot is amongst the best I've tasted. But here is the chart topper: the price. The meat dishes are 4000 shillings ($2) and the vegetarian is ($1). The coffee and tea each amount to about 12 cents per cup. You can't stop.
For more photos from Rehobot and my other adventures this month, click here.