Kokob … an Ethiopian after my own heart

I may be wrong, but in New Orleans, to my knowledge, there is but one Ethiopian restaurant. I’ve heard it is small, dark and intimate … where you sit close to both your dining companions and perfect strangers, watching anxiously towards the stone’s throw away kitchen for your meal while the one server balances your hunger with patience. I must admit, I’ve never been. I was invited to a birthday party there once but for some reason I could not attend. That was the story of most of my New Orleans life … too busy doing good to take care of myself. Oh, how the tables have turned. (Enter laughter here)

Now, I find myself several years later, still wondering what the fuss about the Ethiopian place was all about. I also find myself concerned about the commercialization of this thing we call “Ethiopian” food. I’m not concerned about the celebration of culture, but rather, the profit to be made from the culture. I assume this is the same for any non-mainstream themed restaurant in any country. The novelty of something will inevitably draw in customers. The true test is whether you’re selling just an act or whether it’s an authentic act. (Sorry … that’s a lawyer joke.)

Now that that’s had been said, I’ll move on to the amazing meal we had. The going away party for my Irish flatmate, in fact. You remember my flatmate, yes? My flatmate’s pick, it was a warm, welcoming and quite tasty experience. Apparently, it’s a very cool place to be. According to their website, some of the world’s best have dined here:

– Cabinet du Président José Manuel Barroso (Menu Découverte)
– The European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
– Purina / Nestlé
– BNP Paribas – Fortis
– European Parliamentary Forum
– Bureau Européen de l’Environnement
– Ethiopian Airlines
– Ambassade d’Ethiopie
– Community of European Railway

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Decor … very hip

With a complimentary house welcome drink, the night began on a good note. In fact, it was the first time I’d had ice in a drink since I arrived. The drink went down pretty fast, but I guarded my glass, full of my favorite — crushed ice — as though my life depended on it. Twice the back-waiter attempted to slyly take it off the table … he’s lucky he still has fingers. He learned his lesson after the second try.

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House Cocktail (I cannot for the life of me remember what was in it, but it was slightly fruity. The drink menu is not on their website.)

It took a while to figure out what we wanted to eat, so we looked at some cute comics while we waited.

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When the food finally arrived, it was served by our Garçon, in beautiful process … a little of this, a little of that … splendid colors carefully chosen.

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Garçon
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Garçon

When it was all said and done, we had a lovely presentation:

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Avocado Salad: Avocado, salad and tomato with lemon sauce
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Deblik Salad: Tomato, cucumber and iceberg salad with a garlic and lemon sauce
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The Meat! I didn’t order, but I am fairly certain the meat on this dish are the Alicha Begh Wot (Pieces of lamb cooked in a sauce with curcuma) and Beyanetu Doro (cubed chicken marinated with herbs and spices). The rest are from the veggie plate.
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The Veg! There was so much … but let’s see if I can get it all: Key sir ena denich wot (Potatoes and beetroots in a rich tomato sauce), Tofu be Gomen Tibs (Fried tofu with fresh spinach and onions), KoKoB Atkïlt deblik (AMAZING! Eggplants, zuchinis and mushrooms cooked in a rich tomato sauce), Carrot ena Fasolia wot (Carrots and beans cooked in a mild sauce) and a host of other things I am not even sure of .. it was lovely.

If you’ve not ever been to an Ethiopian restaurant, it’s certainly an experience to remember. One of the best moments of the evening was when our “Garçon” (it’s still unknown whether this was his name or if it meant “server; snap-snap”) carefully (not so much) fed the first bite to one of us. (It is also still up for debate whether Garçon was flirting, which three out of four of us believe so.) We all laughed like little schoolchildren, until we realized it was then expected that we each feed each other the other person’s first bite. Yikes! With four in our group, two meat eaters and two vegetarians, we had a bit of a logistical choice to make. From what I understand, it’s expected to eat with your hands, or better said, with a special spongy bread that is perfect for grasping the food on the family style platter. So … bread + amazing food = new adventures … here we go!

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All dishes are served with injera or rice

After two plates for two, one with meat and one without, the evening ended quite late, but with full bellies and followed by a brisk walk to the bus stop. At this time of the year, you’ve apparently got to take every opportunity you have to take a walk …. at any time of the day.

~ nolafoodie

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