I’ve always heard good things about Ethiopian cuisine, but it took me a long time to finally make it to one of the Ethiopian restaurants in Oakland, Cafe Romanat. I went with a group of five people, which was great for trying multiple dishes.
We started with vegetarian sambussas as an appetizer since they ran out of the meat ones, but these were still delicious. They were stuffed with lentils and mushrooms, and I love mushrooms! They were fried very well and did not have a greasy feel at all. They had a strong garlic flavor, and the accompanying chick pea sauce gave each bite a slight spicy kick.
For our main meal, we ordered a meat combination, doro tibs (chicken), and yebeg tibs (lamb). The dishes are meant to be eaten family style, so they served all of them on one large plate lined with their special crepe. They also gave us a couple of bowls of the crepe for us to use to dig into the food. No silverware is provided because the expectation is that you use your hands and the bread to pick up what you want and eat it.
Everything was incredibly tasty. My favorite was the lamb. The dish had lamb cubes sautéed with onions, jalapeños, tomatoes and fresh garlic. The garlic flavor was the most prominent but the jalapeños added a welcome kick. Though I learned the hard way that said kick becomes really hot if you eat a piece of the jalapeño with the meat.
The chicken dish was the same flavors as the lamb dish but with chicken instead. And I can’t even really begin to describe the various dishes in the meat combo, other than to say that all of the meats were cooked well — tender, extremely flavorful — and the flavors of the Ethiopian spices were unique but delicious.
We also tried their Tej, which is their homemade honey wine. When we first poured the wine into our glasses, the smell was super strong and pungent – it reminded me of the paint you use for house walls. I was afraid I wasn’t going to like this decision, but I was wrong. The taste was delicious – it went down very smooth, and I could taste a hint of the honey at the end. The wine is pretty strong though, fair warning.
My mom wanted to try their Ethiopian coffee ceremony, but we didn’t have time. I guess it means we will have to go back!
462 Santa Clara Ave
Oakland, CA 94610