tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Eat Like Ushi 2019-11-14T23:30:53Z Ushi tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1477782 2019-11-14T23:30:53Z 2019-11-14T23:30:53Z Bar Restaurant Plazhi I Ri Caci, Sarande 09-2019

After driving back to Sarande and returning the car, we had enough time for one final Albania meal before taking the ferry back to Corfu. While walking toward the port, an older man sitting outside his shop saw us and asked what are you looking for? Some food I guess. Albanian? Yeah. Cross the road and go down the stairs and walk until you find the restaurant. And so we did. And opposite the beach with its perfect blue Mediterranean waters we came across Caci.

A couple of wasps seemed to hover, but not too bad overall.

- Salad - giant and the largest we had during the trip (maybe ever) with loads of chunky feta;
- Tave kosi (yoghurt casserole with lamb) 900lek - I tried hard to find this dish anywhere and failed. It is more a dish that is served at homes or more inland toward Tirana. In Ksamil I asked our Airbnb host and he didn't know anywhere to find it. Luck would have it this final place would allow me a national dish before leaving. It was like a tender lamb quiche with a tangy sour yoghurt flavour. I liked it;
- Fried squid 1100 lek - quite good. Bit chewy. Bit of salt.

Considering the location along the beach, the meal was great value overall. I left full, exchanged my remaining lek for € at a good rate at a random travel agent, and boarded the ferry which was actually (reasonably) on time.

Thanks Albania.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1477781 2019-11-14T23:19:39Z 2019-11-14T23:19:39Z Guvat, Ksamil 09-2019

For the final dinner of the lovely week in Albania, we wanted a slightly more special one. The choice was between Apollonia (walked past on first evening with welcoming wait staff and a nice menu) or Guvat (which was on my list for Ksamil). After a bit of internal deliberation, we ended up at Guvat including getting the best seats in the house (which has a reserved sign until we arrived) to watch the sunset.

The sky had beautiful colours with which to enjoy some cocktails (pina colada and banana daiquiri with fresh fruit). Some average bread, somewhat plain tzatziki and pretty decent olive oil started off the food too.

- Fried hard cheese (kackavall) 500lek - I had difficulty finding this cheese fried on local Albanian menus, and finally took the opportunity. The cheese was thick, firm, squeaky, salty, delicious - it was perfect. It did cool quickly though;
- Black cuttlefish ink & cuttlefish risotto 1200lek - cooked al dente with lots of cuttlefish, red peppercorns and grated cheese;
- Linguine "Xha Aliu" with seafood, tomato, cognac, red pepper, garlic 900lek - pasta was slightly al dente. The seafood was one prawn, and bits of octopus and squid. The sauce was really tasty like a spiced chilli tomato base. It was exceptionally good in flavour.

A beautiful setting in the September twilight, without pesky insects, and a gentle not-too-cold breeze. A lovely environment with excellent food. Would definitely go back for the cheese and linguine if I'm ever in Ksamil again.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1477777 2019-11-14T23:06:10Z 2019-11-14T23:06:11Z Brothers Fish & Meat Tavern, Ksamil 09-2019

Brothers seemed to be a well rated dining venue and it surprised me to find the building with a gated metal fence just off the main road, with a dumpsite of building shell and neglected cars in the adjacent carparking area. Interesting. It was a quiet lunch after spending the morning at the ruins of Butrint National Park.

There is an enclosed spit outside in the courtyard but due to the off-season, it wasn't in use.

The minimally English speaking elderly couple cooking and serving were quite homely.

- Spicy cheese grilled topped with olive oil and peppers;
- Stuffed peppers with rice 550lek - quite simple, salty and nice;
- Greek souvlaki with kofte 650lek - very ugly kofte that were quite average. But the bread and tzatziki very good.

I have to be honest and say the food was average. It also didn't look like the pictures of dishes on the front of the restaurant. Maybe it's an off-season thing...

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1477130 2019-11-13T11:03:52Z 2019-11-13T11:03:52Z Hello Creperie, Ksamil 09-2019

My partner was craving crepes - an odd choice in the middle of Albania. But luck would have it that as I searched out some breakfast burek, I walked past a creperie. What are the odds.

After seafood dining at Ftelea (and being pretty full), the idea was to go for a light crepe to finish the day. One can always have plans but those went out the window pretty soon, we realised. It probably would have helped to see the monstrous creations.

They are only open from 1800-2400 which made it perfect for the last deal of the day. And they also have a fun quote "Waffles are just crepes with abs".

- Dried fruits waffle (ice cream, chocolate, walnuts, almonds, raisins, hazelnuts) 500lek - this was the world's largest consumer waffle, huge and thick but still cooked well. There were lots of crushed nuts, whole walnuts and topped with vanilla icecream. There's no way we could finish that;
- Pineapple sweet crepe (white chocolate, coconut, pineapple, cinnamon) 300lek - the crepe was large and thick, not so much the thin delicate French type. The white chocolate made it a too sweet (not a fan of it generally). The warm pineapple was delicious though.

The waffle certainly didn't help my abs at all.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476852 2019-11-12T18:28:37Z 2019-11-12T18:28:37Z 14 Hills, London 11-2019

Located high up on level 14 near Bank, is the newly opened 14 Hills restaurant. It is a lush area full of green and I can only imagine how many landscape people must be responsible to keeping everything alive. Even the entrance to the lift (complete with door person) has wow factor with the impressive enormous LED screen on the ceiling entrancing you while you wait.

Once upstairs, you are greeted and then we were shown to the bar. There are expectedly good views from the top, including a small part of Tower Bridge on display. The Xpress Martini sounds excellent, but not wanting to have a late night awake, I opted for The Hive (Patron silver, Olmeca blanco, Montelobos Mezcal infused with thyme, aperol, amaro montenegro, honey, fresh lime) £11.5. It was an alright drink with a bit of smoke to it. I couldn't understand the honeycomb and stirrer on top, which really seemed for art decoration but little functioning else.

We waited 30mins for the table, which I think was because they forgot about us (maybe confused us for another couple). People who arrived with and after us were already seated, and it wasn't because the place was full. It was however, their opening night and so I think a little concession needs to be made (as the food was 50% off).

The French FOH staff and the French waitress made me think they was something French about this place. And the menu confirmed there certainly was. Some good quality bread (excellent crust) with butter started things off in typical French fashion.

- Crab (white crab, crab essence, cauliflower, oscietra caviar) £17.5 - warm bits of crab meat covered by a foam. Pretty good although I would have preferred a stronger crab flavour;
- Game (pork, duck & pistachio terrine, pastry crust, brandy cherries) £14 - a cold dish with reasonable crust (given it is cold) surrounding the the meats and asparagus. Pretty good actually;
- Turbot (roasted, with cuttlefish risotto, beurre blanc) £26 - a nice fish albeit bony with a rich sauce and a thick black risotto;
- Rossini (beef fillet, mushroom duxelle, seared duck liver, toast, madeira & truffle sauce) £36 - very tender, very rare (to request) fillet, with tangy mushrooms and an excellent piece of foie gras (that didn't have a very strong liver taste). Really good dish all around.

I'm generally not one to go for French food, but the quality of cooking here was very high. It has a nice setting too if you are willing to pay those prices.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476834 2019-11-12T17:58:03Z 2019-11-12T17:58:04Z Ftelea Fishop & Grill, Ksamil 09-2019

I was trying really hard to find a local fishmonger to buy some things to cook at home. It proved surprisingly difficult with the only one coming up on a Google search being at the beach area opposite The Mussel House. I never made it there.

I asked the owner of Zace Studios (our accommodation) and he recommended nearby Ftelea which he said you can buy fresh to cook home, or pay them an extra 100lek or so to cook for you takeaway. That would have been much cheaper than eating there, but when on holiday why not enjoy the conveniences of an atmospheric eating place. I had actually mentally noted the place while walking home from the main beach area as a seafood place that smelled good and was full of people into the evening, when most other restaurants centrally were very empty in the off-season.

- Arugula salad 400lek - bitter rocket and parmesan;
- Prawns 1000lek for 300g - flavoursome, cooked well with a little chew. A marked difference in 300g compared to the terrible Genti;
- Grilled squid 800lek for 300g - unseasoned but well grilled squid and excellent once salted lightly;
- Gilthead 650lek for 300g - panfried well with crisp skin and soft flesh.

An excellent meal overall. I'm disappointed we didn't have enough meals left to go back.


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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476832 2019-11-12T17:45:00Z 2019-11-12T17:45:01Z The Mussel House, Ksamil 09-2019

The Mussel House has a good reputation for - you guessed it - mussels from the local waters. I think it is the opposite side to Lake Butrint proper, but I'm sure the water is roughly the same. It's a steepdrive up/down off a mainroad, so I would be surprised if accidents didn't occasionally happen there. But none this time at least.

Along the offroad, there doesn't seem anything else there other than The Mussel House. And there's certainly lots of people coming to eat happily, including some Italians who were praising the food and pasta.

What I remember is several wasps that wouldn't leave us alone. It just meant careful moving and eating so as not to agitate (or swallow) any of them. Also the waters around were teeming with tiny little fish that seemed to detect you looking at them and move away. They would come up to the surface and make tiny little breaks in the water

- Mussels saganaki 550lek - deshelled in tomato and feta sauce. Quite good, although it did seem like a small serve and not the best way to taste the mussels for themselves. It really wasn't what I was expecting; from the waiter's description I thought it would be shelled mussels steamed in a light salsa with chopped tomatoes;
- Butrint Lake Eel 750lek for 300g - very nice grilled, with thin bones, soft flesh and little heads to chew on.

Overall a nice place to have some local seafood. Would go for the normal mussels next time.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476827 2019-11-12T17:24:38Z 2019-11-12T17:24:38Z The Blue Eye, Albania 09-2019

One of the essential daytrips in the Sarande area is the Blue Eye. Although we drove from Dhermi, we basically passed through the outskirts of Sarande to get there, firstly along highway, then dirt road, and then slow moving rocks, sand and gravel. Luckily everyone else was in the same boat, either grinding their rental cars through or parking higher and walking down while dust rose around them. The weather forecast for the day was a little ominous for rain and cloud, but to our luck none of that ever surfaced.

The Blue Eye is a stunning place. There is an area you can dive into the freezing water, which I would recommend just to see the clearest of waters disappearing below.

From a food point of view, the restaurant is surrounded by peaceful water (away from the jumping hole), greenery and mountains. A grill ensures you can smell what they are cooking there, and for a touristy middle-of-nowhere spot, the prices are not much above usual.

- Grilled goat 900lek for 500g - heavily grilled and tasty, although with a lot of salt;
- Grilled trout 800lek - grilled until the top was a bit too burnt and that flavour dominated the skin;
- Country salad 400lek - standard with lots of raw onions and a large slab of feta.

The food was far from the best we had but adequate enough. I would eat there again if I visited. I think I would prefer that to bringing my own food.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476568 2019-11-11T22:54:17Z 2019-11-11T22:54:18Z Bar Taverna Hibraj, Llogara National Park 09-2019

We took a daytip to Llogara National Park. We left quite late and the windy roads went all the way up until the mist covered the pass and the view unfortunately. Still there were people there and locals selling fruit. Llogara NP has quite a few restaurants, an unusual amount of highly rated ones actually, but it's easy to see why in that setting and if they all make similar food based on charcoal meats.

After a 2.5h walk just in the local loop, it was time for lunch. Under the beautiful sun, it was interesting to find quite a few restaurants closed, particularly the one I wanted to go to - the farm Dukan (from memory the name isn't quite correct on Google, it's slightly different). Uji i Panijes was another on my list, but in the end I watched past and selected Hibraj because it was the only place which had a glorious spit visible.

We were the only 2 eating at the unusual time of 3pm and they had just taken the spit down and chopped it up. Luckily there was enough still to order, although only lamb in the off season, not goat which I wanted. Some average bread but livened up with some butter and dried herbs.

- Fergese (tomatoes, cottage cheese, peppers, onion) 250lek - a tasty creamy homemade dip that wen well on the bread;
- Roasted lamb 600lek for 300g - small but delicious portion of lamb, salty, crisp skin, tender meat;
- Grilled beef steak 1000lek for 300g - although cooked a little heavier than I wanted, a beautiful salty and spiced char coated the beautiful meat.

A wonderful meal in an exceptional setting in the perfect September weather.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476538 2019-11-11T21:45:04Z 2019-11-11T21:45:05Z Barba Niko Bakery, Dhermi 09-2019

After picking up our first ever hitchhiker, a young Chinese girl who was travelling for a year and was currently hitchhiking her way through Albania (respect), we dropped her off and went to the bakery. Barba Niko is located up the top of the hill along the main road and was a pitstop for some small supplies before the steep drive down toward the hotel and the beach.

It has some ok byrek and some very good flat bread rolls. These were perfect with cheese and smoked ham. They also have some good dessert. Tre leche (3 milks) was like a sponge soaked in milk with jelly. Baklava was quite sweet with some crunch and pistachios.

They are also open 24h a day and have some basics like milk and yoghurt.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476391 2019-11-11T20:20:53Z 2019-11-12T17:58:13Z Genti, Dhermi 09-2019

I was looking for a nice restaurant with good food and a fancy sunset view. The choices I found on Google were between Fevan and Genti. In the end I chose Genti because a picture of prawns looked good and I thought it might be more Albanian, whereas Fevan was Greek. After eating a lot of meat generally, it was nice to see seafood featuring on the grill menu.

In the end it was a terrible mistake. The sunset was fiery and beautiful, but unfortunately on their balcony they have a very large curtain shade that blocks most of the view. We asked them to raise it and they said they would but didn't.

It seems like primarily a sports bar. A football/soccer game was showing and as a result there were lots of men sitting around watching, and almost wondering why two tourists were there. Maybe because they knew the food wasn't good and would never eat it themselves.

- Big shrimp 1200lek for 300g - these were tiny prawns with ok texture and decent flavour, but I can't imagine how they can be big. There's no way 9 of those could be 300g either;
- Octopus 1000lek for 300g - seriously terrible. Not crisp not tender and flavourless. They were the ends of leftover skinny tentacles;
- Grilled vegetables 400lek - very good with eggplant, light zucchini and peppers;
- Village salad 300lek - standard and fine. Lots of onions, some feta and olives.

Maybe the meat grills would be better. I'd probably prefer to avoid the place altogether actually.

For a comparison of what 300g of prawns should be, look at Ftelea in Ksamil (https://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/ftelea-fishop-and-grill-ksamil-09-2019)

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476381 2019-11-11T17:03:20Z 2019-11-11T17:03:20Z Taverna Lefteri, Himare 09-2019

After arriving in Albania from the Corfu ferry, we hired a car (from a slightly dodgy operation) but safely drove off. After a little while, we passed through Himare in perfect time to eat lunch. Actually it was early for lunch because I didn't realise Albania is 1h behind Greece.

I actually wanted to eat at Merluc, but they weren't open. In hindsight maybe it was because it was too early, or maybe it was simply because peak season had ended and so a lot of places had shut up shop. Given the past few days in Corfu, I wanted to eat more Albanian than Greek food, but it seemed alright to go Greek just once more.

As the first guests to Lefteri, the staff were almost shocked to see us there. In fact it took a bit more time for them to finish their lunch, realise they should be doing something work-related, and get us menus. After this it was all pleasant and decent service.

A trio of starters to eat with some decent grilled crusty bread kicked things off.

- Sardines marinated 430lek - really delicious with salt and olive oil;
- Mousaka 580lek - a very good size and tasted rich with vegetables and some meat;
- Okra with meat 480lek - I wanted hochpotch with meat (whatever that is) but they didn't have it. Instead I settled for this one. Although the veal was not that tender, the okra was soft and a bit slimy in a good way, and the sauce was rich with flavour and tomato spices.

The meal was excellent. I would happily come back here.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476377 2019-11-11T16:45:08Z 2019-11-11T16:45:09Z Stazei Meli, Corfu 09-2019

Other than searching out gelato, there was only one dessert place in Corfu Town I wanted to try - the local place for loukoumades. These little fried donut balls can be so delicious sometimes, hot and soft, with a sweetness to bring in the night. Stazei Meli is also a place for breakfast, so I suppose it is an any time of day type food here.

After a walk through the barmy evening night-lit streets up and away from the port area, we joined other happy people for a sweet end (or maybe beginning even) to the day.

There are many different combinations to try and the smell of fried dough is in the air.

We did just have a big dinner, but I don't know still how others can eat 6 of these to themselves. It's much better value (not that it is anywhere near expensive anyway) but we chose variety over quantity.

Vegan (fig jam & pistachio) €2.6 for 3 and Chocolate & Fruits (dark chocolate, banana) €2.8 for 3 were our choice. The balls were warm and soft, although I admit I did expect more flavour from the dough itself. The fig jam was ok but not my favourite, which is unusual because figs are so local here and pistachios were my choice too. The banana and dark chocolate was a more standard combination and I preferred this.

I was very stuffed by the end, and a little disappointed if I'm being honest. Maybe I just had too high expectations. I'd still come back again when less full.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476093 2019-11-10T23:39:51Z 2019-11-10T23:39:51Z To Alatopipero, Corfu 09-2019

During this relatively quite weekend in September, one of the few restaurants that seemed to be flowing with guests was To Alatopipero. It had been recommended by my Airbnb host as somewhere for local food, so either was that good or had somehow similarly made it to everyone else's list. We walked in off the alley and I thought it looked quite empty. Then out the front entrance to the pedestrian courtyard seating area and it clicked - that's where everyone was, enjoying the warm autumn evening with a few street singers passing through also.

It was the last chance to try some local Corfiot cuisine.

- Handmade cheese pie €4 - cheese pies were actually deepfried pastries with very tasty feta inside. There were an unexpectedly high number of these for the price and almost difficult to finish them all. But I persevered;
- Sofrito €8.5 - quite plain in flavour with the meat not very tender and thin. Fries well seasoned with oregano;
- Pastisada (cockerel) €8.5 - chicken a bit dry but better than the sofrito. Nice flavour. Penne was ok but not al dente. I think the veal version at Bakalogatos was better.

A complimentary dessert was brought out too as a nice touch to finish. But I wanted to go for the loukoumades (at Stazei Meli) anyway.

Overall I thought the food was a little disappointing. It did have a good atmosphere to try to make up for it.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1476091 2019-11-10T23:23:23Z 2019-11-10T23:36:52Z Bakalogatos, Corfu 09-2019

I was wandering through the streets looking for some lunch inspiration. I walked past the incessantly closed Soflaki, and also O Berdes (which was on my list) and To Alatopipero (recommended by my Airbnb host). But this didn't seem open just yet either. Around the corner just before the exit to the harbour side, I found a nice menu with a pleasant outdoor seating area here. The Greek name is Μπακαλόγατος.

So far I was yet to try and of the traditional Corfiot dishes - pastitsada, sofrito, stifado.

Pastitsada €9.5 was essentially spaghetti with a red sauce. Pasta was cooked through and not al dente. The sauce had an excellent earthy flavour, although the meat itself was not the most tender. But it certainly looked and tasted delicious, and such an excellent comfort food.

Yum.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1475997 2019-11-10T18:28:31Z 2019-11-10T18:29:03Z Taverna Ninos, Corfu 09-2019

Ask anyone and read any food guide for Corfu Town, and Ninos will feature. Even when I checked in and asked for recommendations, the Airbnb host suggested it for traditional dishes and for gyros also. It seemed a good place to start my food return to Greece.

It's a very popular place with people queueing for takeaway. The meat on the spit actually looks remarkably good, and a far cry from the uniform meat paste that is common (moreso in Turkish places). I had also read the red sauce was a local Corfu thing and elevated it to the next level.

With enthusiasm I ordered the ridiculously cheap €2.5 gyros with pitta. After it arrived I had to ask for the red sauce; "oh you want the red sauce" - yeah, of course. I'm not sure what the red sauce is - tomato and maybe meat juice. I expected a bit of chilli from what I thought I had read, but there wasn't any. Pork meat was ok. I thought it was decent, but can't be the best. Unfortunately it was difficult to find another well rated place in town for it. I did go back again one more time for lunch a couple of days later (because Gia was closed) and thought the meat flavour was better that time. It's good overall, I have to admit.

Also on the first night I had saganaki €4, which was a deliciously salty and squeaky cheese perfectly grilled. It was tough having that all to myself, but someone had to do it.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1475992 2019-11-10T18:18:27Z 2019-11-10T18:20:14Z Gia Souvlaki, Corfu 09-2019

After trying Nino and wanting another to compare, finding a good gyro was actually much more difficult than expected in Greece. I tried to go to Pitta Pappou but the staff pretended I didn't exist when I stood in the door trying to speak to someone. There was also Soflaki in an alleyway but it was closed every single time I went past (which was quite often).

Although not really a gyro place, gia has skewers and rotisserie chicken. I didn't have the stomach space to eat everything, but they were kind enough to cut off a piece of the chicken for me to try. Really delicious. I would go for that (kontosouvli) next time there.

Instead of this occasion I tried the Mix souvlaki €7. Chicken kebab was very tender but less flavour than the spit version. Pork skewer was nicely charred and had decent flavour. Sausage pork was quite salty but alright.

Cheap prices and friendly people. I would definitely have gone back if they weren't closed on the Sunday that I tried.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1475989 2019-11-10T17:53:00Z 2019-11-10T17:56:52Z Solo Gelato, Corfu 09-2019

After a large quantity of gelato from Papagiorgis, I walked into Solo to look around and compare. Even though I couldn't stomach another one, I made a mental note that the place looked authentic with silver tins (albeit open).

I went back the next day to try it and even though it was more expensive for a smaller amount (but easily enough for 1), it was clearly a superior product and good enough for me to return the following day too.

The mango sorbet was thick and tangy. The pistachio was hidden underneath (don't know why considering they advertise they use Sicilian pistachios) and had a good colour and reasonably good flavour. It costs 0.5€ extra for one of those thick chocolate sticks which was pretty unnecessary in the end. They also tried to put liquid chocolate on top, to which I said no. I have to say that probably downgrades their product a little even offering it.

I tried the chocolate the next day (with pistachio again) and that was pretty good too.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1459008 2019-11-10T17:21:46Z 2019-11-10T17:21:46Z Papagiorgis Patiserie-Gelateria, Corfu 09-2019

The most famous and busy gelato place in Corfu is this old one. It's also located along the main thoroughfare which certainly helps too. Other than a well staffed gelato area, there are also cakes which I didn't try but looked very nice.

The gelato is an extremely generous serve. The £1.70 cone with 1 scoop (they let me have 2x 1/2 scoops) is a huge amount with gelato stuffed in all through the cone. I tried the dark chocolate which was thick and good, but the pistachio was pale, weak and a waste of time unfortunately.

If you want only gelato, go to Solo around the corner.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1468832 2019-10-22T09:02:02Z 2019-10-22T09:02:03Z Etles, London 09-2019

After searching for several years and failing to find a decently rated Uyghur restaurant in London, suddenly there were two. I had read about Silk Road but it sounded like a Chinese restaurant that had Uyghur dishes rather than an Uyghur restaurant itself. Chance would have it that I would come across this article by Fuchsia Dunlop, the UK chef who allowed me to cook Sichuan food at home. And good fortune means that I trust her reviews for all things around here (https://london.eater.com/2018/2/22/17039556/etles-london-first-authentic-uyghur-restaurant).

Etles in Walthamstow and Dilara in Finsbury Park shot to the top of the to-try list. Etles was the first one for me and we went with friends of whom one is from Yili, the same town in Xinjiang as the owners/chefs of Etles.

- Da pan ji (chicken, bell peppers, potatoes, garlic, ginger, soya sauce, herbs, homemade pasta) £30 for big plate - mild flavour, quite nice;
- Lagman (freshly handmade Uyghur pasta, stirfried beef) £9 - also mild flavour and probably needed more spice for me;
- Uyghur sis kabab (lamb marinated with special recipe) £2 each - delicious tender and fatty proper lamb kebab with lots of salt and cumin;
- Lamb kidney kebab £4 each - really good with a characteristic kidney texture and flavour. Delicious.

Unfortunately they didn't have polo (rice) that day. I also read they had samsa but it wasn't on the menu, and I was really keen for this after the great Uzbek food in Russia. They didn't mention it - until I saw another table receive them at the end of our meal - oh, it isn't on the menu but you can ask for it. Alright, give me one. Sorry, they ordered the last ones. Great.

I liked the food overall. Both kebabs had the most flavour, but all dishes were good to me. Our friends said that the kebab was better at Etles, but the other dishes were better at Dilara. I'll have to compare them myself.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1468444 2019-10-21T11:50:33Z 2019-10-21T11:50:33Z Butcher Boys Prime Steakhouse, Umhlanga 10-2019

The final dinner of the trip was a choice between TA #1 The Grill Room at our lovely The Oyster Box Hotel or Butcher Boys. Looking at the menus, both had promising options. Butcher Boys won out for two reasons in the end - the prices are cheaper and they had ostrich steak. As much as I like a good beef, it's pretty easy to access that in many places of the world (albeit agreeably not necessarily at those cheap prices). But ostrich steak is much harder to find and after the great one at Arnold's (https://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/arnolds-restaurant-cape-town-10-2019) I was keen to have it again.

It was only a short safe 3 minute walk from the hotel and it did make me think it would have been nice to explore Umhlanga a little more during our time there. But next time instead then.

- Butcher Boys beef spare ribs 400g R165 + R5 to upgrade fries to the Butchers Boys type - thinner bones than I expected for beef and glazed with a sweet glaze. It was very nice. Honestly I thought they may have given us (big) pork ribs by accident, but they said it was beef. The BB fries upgrade meant adding garlic and parsley. The distribution wasn't very good and just sprinkled on the middle fries. The fries themselves were also nice in taste but average in texture and completely lacking crispness which was disappointing;
- Ostrich fillet steak R200 - I requested it rare and they cooked 2 of the medallions perfectly rare with a warm core. Interestingly the 3rd medallion was medium rare and that was much more tender to cut than the rare ones, which were tougher and chewier. Arnold's ostrich was medium rare too, so that must be the way to go for this meat. The flavour was a again similar to beef (as the standard comparison) just with a slightly different edge to the flavour. I did enjoy it. The mielie pap was a dense sort-of mash with bits of corn. They were served with a tomato relish (great for the pap) and a blueberry sauce (good for the ostrich);
- Garden salad R65 - simple, undressed accompaniment.

Overall a good meal. I have to order medium rare for my ostrich next time.

Butcher Boys Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1467685 2019-10-21T10:35:08Z 2019-10-21T10:35:11Z The Test Kitchen, Cape Town 10-2019

It was lucky that the October reservations for The Test Kitchen only came out in September. It gave me plenty of (last minute) time to read about where I wanted to eat in Cape Town and decide if it was worth paying the R2250 + 12% service to go to The Test Kitchen. The alternative would have been to try The Pot Luck Club, and in hindsight maybe I should have tried both. But there were other food places in Cape Town I liked the sound of and food there is otherwise relatively cheap.

When the bookings were released, I (like many others I'm sure) quickly logged in. I had hoped for an early session but somehow after nabbing one, it got taken and left me with 8pm. Oh well - that's not too bad. Actually since the sunset was around 7pm in October, 8pm worked out really well. It gave us plenty of time to return home after the drive to Franschhoek and more time to digest the large lunch and cheese platter from the afternoon.

This developed section of Woodstock is really quite nice. I've read the surrounding streets are not safe (in the evenings), so it would have been nice to come back during the day or even to the development area in the evening for a more relaxing night. There are security there and also designated door people from the restaurants to keep order and safety. It really is well organised.

Immediately upon entering the industrial and relatively indistinct door, there is the dark room. Dark it is indeed with eyes needing to adjust to see the lovely artwork and sketchings in the walls. After a brief hello and introduction, it is immediately onto welcome drinks and a tour of the world starters.

Sour (lapsang souchong old fashioned) was mildly sour, a bit smoky and very nice. Bitter (num-num & rose) was only mildly bitter, a bit sweet and also very nice.

The Dark Room
- Scotland: Billionaires - chicken liver parfait, porcini mushroom and truffle jelly, topped with 24 carat gold. The standout dish from the San Pellegrino website and it was pretty good I must say, if you like/don't mind the liver taste;
- Korea: Ssamjang Veg - marmite crackers and porcini dust are mixed into ssamjang paste of fermented soy beans. Raw micro vegetables are the vessels to eat it. An excellent delicious umami dip to eat tiny beetroot, carrot, cauliflower etc.;
- England: Pork Scratchings - pork scratchings with vinegar and celeriac dust to dip into a foam of Guinness flour;
- USA: Morel Burger - the world's smallest slider made of a morel mushroom patty. Not bad, could have been stronger flavoured;
- Ethiopia: Berbere Curry & Sheep Amasi - very crispy berbere cracker made from sorghum. Topped with shredded lamb. I could eat these all day long. Sheep cheese amasi (fermented) had a mild flavour unexpectedly;
- Mauritius: Coconut langoustine - langoustine piece with coriander paste, shellfish oil and fried curry leaves. Nice;
- India: Tandoori - perfectly textured swordfish on some slightly smoking coals, topped with cucumber, angel hair chilli, jalapeno. It was warm with a strong flavour and crunchy texture peanut salsa. Excellent morsel.

Then it was through the door with a secret knock into the more conventional The Light Room. We were offered the bar or a standard table, and the bar was the atmospheric place to be in front of the kitchen and with some overly exuberant Americans to the side, 2 having a domestic argument over wine, and an older 2 constantly proclaiming it's the best meal they've ever had (they had left by the time I took my photo of the room).

The Light Room
- Sword Belly "Greek Salad" - light and juicy swordfish served with pickled tomato, olive ice, skordalia dip and feta;
- TTK Lobster Salad, Coconut, Thai Aromatics - possibly my favourite dish with a perfectly balanced flavour profile. Poached lobster served with kalamansi caviar (for the sourness), coconut ice, coconut flesh scooped into little balls, chilli, shredded kaffir lime, and tiny basil and perilla. Drizzled with lobster oil and a nam pla dressing. Simply perfect;
- bread - sage beurre noisette glazed bread with snoek butter. Very soft and buttery bread and very mildly smoked fish flavour to the butter;
- Butterfish Bibimbap - teriyaki butterfish which was very soft and served with 3 types of kimchi vegetables, masterstock caviar, mushrooms and sushi rice. Very good to mix all around although I feel like gochujang is needed for true bibimbap;
- Sundy Roast - red wood smoked beef didn't make the flavour smoky but lightly accentuated beef tartare flavour. It was very soft and tender chunks of meat, horseradish cream and celery dust;
or daily special of Beef Sweetbread - pancetta wrapped sweetbread with walnut port jus. I'm not sure which sweetbread it was but they said it was beef. The texture was very creamy and soft (like brain, but it wasn't brain);
- Butter Poached Kingklip, Chestnut Jam, Snoek Extraction - kingklip fish with an excellent tempura cabbage on top. Served with snoek fish stock and a side of saffron mash;
or "Pap En Vleis" - local South African specialty Karoo lamb with a bolognese sauce. Full of flavour. Lamb was ok for tenderness, could have been more so;
- Rabbit & Ham in Two Servings - soft pork belly skin although the skin wasn't that crisp, cooked until only a thin fat layer remained. Tender rabbit rolls and celeriac foam. Served with a strong meaty sauce with rabbit chunks and topped with another micro vegetable.

Desserts from Light to Dark
- Rhubarb Trifle, Elderflower, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose & Mascarpone - very wine-y flavour and light;
- Pear, Jerusalem, Bourbon Oak, Pine, Sheep's Milk, Espresso - lovely poached pear, pistachio crumb and bourbon ice cream;
- Petit fours 1 - foie gras jam donut, crushed peanut snow and dessert wine
- Petit fours 2 - a tiny trifle to bring the meal back full circle to the box.

There was a creative non-alcohol drinks option of Tea Pairing for R500. Each was served in a wine glass and cold. They all had nice light flavours, a bit of fruity, a bit of sweet, and complemented the food well.

I thought the meal was creative, balanced and overall good, with some definite standout dishes (for me the ssamjang veg, lobster salad in particular). My partner thought it was outstanding. I'm glad we went and experienced one of the best restaurants in the world. I don't feel the need to return though and would do to The Pot Luck Club next time in Cape Town.

The Test Kitchen Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1468395 2019-10-21T09:23:26Z 2019-10-21T09:23:26Z The Ocean Terrace Curry Buffet, Umhlanga 10-2019

Staying at The Oyster Box Hotel (rated the best hotel in Africa) came with a few priveleges. Not only the ocean view from the private bedroom balcony, the complementary champagne and chocolate strawberries, nor the congratulatory balloon and rose petals during the evening turn. Our deal included some (good) sushi and a glass of wine, and that's where we first found The Ocean Terrace. It is essentially the main eating area for the hotel, and even though there is an oyster bar and a high tea section, you can enjoy those meals on the terrace also.

I had read about the famous curry buffet in Umhlanga and fortune would have it that it is hosted at The Ocean Terrace itself also. Given the evening (and potential threat of mosquitoes), we opted to sit inside for the night.

After flying early that morning, having a small sushi lunch but also lots of wine/champagne, strawberries, I had to maintain some stomach for the buffet and that meant eating nice and late at 8.30pm. The deal is simple - R450 for all the curry your heart, stomach and bowels can handle and ended with a dessert.

There’s many staff wrapping samosas, ready to reheat your naan and roti and replacing the curries all evening. It is an exercise in 5* hotel in action.

But now to the food...

Tandoori chicken was disappointing and dry. Beef shish was ok spiced but similarly dry. They had both probably been sitting too long. Spinach and cheese samosa was ok, but nothing special. I wasn’t quite sure what the chilli bite was, but it wasn’t that chilli and not that good. In fact the only good thing from my entrees plate for the chicken pilau – much heavier, wetter and darker than a biryani but with some good spiced flavour.

Next was onto the curries, which had to be better since it’s a curry buffet. I didn’t try the veg korma nor dhal because I can’t imagine that would be different to elsewhere and I needed to save stomach place.

From clockwise around the plate, we had garlic naan (ok texture, garlic was there but not very strong), roti (actually very good), potato pea mushroom (standard), fish curry (very nice version strong in flavour and cooked down until not too firm), lentils (standard), chicken and prawn (a mild creamy style with nice tasting but one prawn was good texturally and the other was mushy), butter chicken (a nice simple version rich with tomato), beef vindaloo (brilliant and cooked deep until the chilli and spices had some serious burn), butter bean (standard), lamb (very lamby but really not much spice. Quite disappointing).

I went back for another serve of the fish, butter chicken and vindaloo. The vindaloo was remarkably good and if I had the stomach space, could handle even more fire and burn, then I would have had a third one.

Dessert included kulfi with crushed nuts (ok, a bit sweet), a vermicelli pudding (even more sweet), and gulab jamon (didn’t try it, they said it is even sweeter and cooked with rose water and syrup).

Overall it’s quite expensive for curry but you are paying for the variety and setting.

The Ocean Terrace - The Oyster Box Hotel Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1468392 2019-10-21T09:15:56Z 2019-10-21T09:15:56Z Bo Kaap Kombuis, Cape Town 10-2019

Cape Malay is supposedly the local version of Malaysia/Indonesia type food, full with breads and curries and the rest. I had read it was similar but just less spicy and so before a walking tour in Bo Kaap was a good time to try it. It really is up the end of a steep long road up the top of Bo Kaap and sits above a primary school where the children run and scream like mad. At least they are having fun.

Unfortunately they had a buffet and not the a la carte. Hmm. Oh well.

The roti was alright, bobotie was a slightly too salty version of mince lasagne without the pasta, tomato breddie was probably the best of all the dishes as a mildly beef curry cooked until the tomatoes turned dark. Chicken curry, lentils, dhal and butter bean curry were all ok. Nothing chilli at all, and not all that special overall in terms of flavour.

R200 for some starter snacks (all a bit average and not hot) and a very sweet *** to finish. Although the *** sounds good on paper, it wasn’t anywhere near as soft of easy to eat as a donut, being rather thick and heavy. The syrup and coconut didn’t complement as well as they really should.

It suppose it was both good and bad the buffet was on – buffets aren’t really my thing (I can’t eat that much comfortably anymore) and I couldn’t choose what I wanted but I guess also meant I could try a few different dishes.

Indeed it did seem a bit like the plainer cousins of the pure Asian forms. At least I’ve tried it.

Bo Kaap Kombuis Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1468391 2019-10-21T09:12:14Z 2019-10-21T09:12:15Z La Petite Ferme, Franschhoek 10-2019

Given the beautiful sunny and rainless 24C October days, a daytrip out to the winelands was a must. The options were between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. In the end the reviews online sounded like Stellenbosch is a working town and not so special, whereas Franschhoek is a (potentially artificial) tourist village created but still with French charm.

Franschhoek won in the end for this French vineyard, selected mainly because the food is meant to be good (and the wine was probably alright too). The setting is beautiful with the windows opening onto a lush lawn with peacock roaming around, and the grape trees lining the foreground before the mountains filled the background. Spectacular.

The wine was ok (I can’t really tell), but the local brewed cider was very minimally alcoholic. 3 apples per bottle of cider it said. Nice I guess.

Food was 2 courses for R375 (or 3 for R440 but we were stuffed after 2).

Some too old white bread was served alongside some much fresher seeded bread, basil pesto and a very grassy EVOO but the balsamic was too deeply at the bottom.

Starters
- Prawn cocktail (La Petite Ferme heritage dish) – perfectly cooked and slightly crisp coated red velvet and Kuro ash crumbed tiger prawns. Served with Marie Rose espuma, heirloom tomato flakes, crispy mint, pickled cucumbers, micro cos lettuce, lemon pearls;
- Duo of pate – 3 pieces of black garlic-infused ciabatta toast (couldn’t really detect the garlic) with cured snoek pate and trout caviar on the sides and smoked Franschhoek trout with black caviar on the middle one. Topped with rocket pesto and Viking salted chips, and a smear of lemon curd jelly on the plate.

Mains
- Heritage lamb – slow-braised then pulled, compressed and panfried lamb tagine (quite good, maybe a little more seasoning), charcoal mash (a bit plain), white asparagus (which I think was actually just normal asparagus – nothing white about those on the plate), biltong dust micro peas (tasted like peas) and mint yoghurt gel;
- Duck 6 ways – crispy confit duck leg, duck liver parfait wontons (tasting as expected of foie gras), seared duck breast (meant to be medium-rare but served closer to medium-well sadly), duck pastrami, edamame beans, grilled bok choy, duck jus gras.
- Side of braai corn R – grilled corn. Nice and simple. Nothing too unique. I guess is braai is just the local word of describing it.

Overall a lovely setting a bit further out from Franschhoek centre itself. The food was overall good although the menu ingredients made it sound a bit too complicated and certainly some of the flavours weren’t discernible. Nonetheless nice.

La Petite Ferme Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1466695 2019-10-21T09:06:52Z 2019-10-21T09:07:01Z Table Mountain Cableway Cafe, Cape Town 10-2019

After a 1h40m hike through Platteklip gorge to Table Mountain, it was nice to have food up the top and so not needed to BYO. Having said that, a picnic sitting outside in the sun with a cool breeze and the views would be quite spectacular.

Nonetheless the food was supposedly alright, and it was.

Ostrich pie slice R47 had tender chunky meat, florets of cauliflower and some pumkpin with a meaty sauce. Very good actually. 

The buffet section is R25 per 100g. All the grilled vegetables and wedges, spinach and cheese were nice and flavoursome. Decent quality, although a bit on the expensive side. Then again given you're up on a mountain, I guess it's understandable.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1466693 2019-10-21T08:59:44Z 2019-10-21T09:00:08Z Bay Harbour Market, Cape Town 10-2019

On the weekends, Hout Bay is the place to be for the weekend market. Although being described at 100 stalls, it was actually smaller than I expected.

Parking is made easy by the many many attendants shuffling and directing people in and out of spots. For a small donation, they "watch" over your car. R2-5 seems to be the standard, whatever small change you have they are happy with. You can look over Hout Bay and the settlements up on the mountain side that you shouldn't dare venture into.

Inside there's stalls selling clothes, jewelry, artwork, but then onto the food from sweets, bakery goods, burgers and the rest. On stage a cover band was performing beautifully with a particularly memorable rendition of Riptide.

Foodwise, I had my first Ostrich pie R40 (at a Tunisian stall of all things) which was full of meaty chunks akin to a good beef pie. Also a lamb roll which had shreds of meat, still good but paled in comparison.

Seafood came from local Hout Bay calamari fried (simple and flavoursome) and 6 oysters from ... R25 each (quite big with mild flavour and creamy cores).

Dr. Juice smoothie washed it all down well. Then it was time to be off to the next place.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1465705 2019-10-21T08:56:48Z 2019-10-21T08:57:07Z Kalky's, Cape Town 10-2019

Apparently Kalk Bay is now an outer suburb of Cape Town.

After an afternoon admiring and dipping quickly with the penguins at Boulder’s Bay, a pre-sunset meal at Kalkies was one I had read about. Why was it so famous? Maybe because it has a local institutional feel about it in a shack along the pier next to where the fisherman sell their goods and the seals lounge or swim.

It would be a beautiful spot for a sunset meal, but we weren’t going to wait 2 hours just for that to happen.

- Grilled kob & chips R150 - a meaty thick cutlet grilled and chopped up with nice full flavour, but not in a strong fish taste way. The chips were generally ok, some crisp, some not. For a fish & chip place, they should do this better;

- Fried snoek R50 - mild flavour and more firm than soft, but the flesh was really good and had unusually long longitudinal bones running through. Unusual.

I actually liked the grilled fish more which was unexpected. It also took much much longer to cook - about 20mins whereas the fried ones were being churned out continuously.

Overall it is a really popular place and brimming with people. It has a nice atmosphere and is pleasant to watch the beach and ocean if you can bare the winds. The food is decent without being exceptional.

Kalkys Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1466690 2019-10-16T07:23:40Z 2019-10-16T07:23:40Z V&A Waterfront Food Market, Cape Town 10-2019

We walked into the food court at the V&A and were surrounded by burger and pizza fast food joints. Hmm. This can't be right. How could this be the place to be? I looked up online just to make sure - yes there is a place that serves decent food and juices. I asked a security guard where the food court is, and he said "I'll take you". Outside we went past people watching rugby on a big screen, a playground and toward the main road. The building further away right along the waterfront area had the sign for the food market. Definitely not a food court.

Outside I giggled reading a sign for "No Hipsters" with their scraggly beards, vegan diets, tiny feet and beds of hay. Oh, hamsters. No hamsters. Someone is creative up there.

The food inside has limited options but they all look very good. Eventually I settled on the only African stand that served an excellent tender and very mildly spicy beef stew R70 (even after I topped it with more dried chilli), and served with my first exposure to samp (dried and stamped corn kernels) R25. I wanted to try the pap balls, but the server said no, one or the other is enough since they are both roughly the same. Also the bobotie balls eluded me this time around. Maybe next time. It was a very large lunch serve and really great flavours.

The other sampling was Hungarian flatbreads (I don't remember this in Budapest) which were like soft fried roti pizzas. Very nice and this one refreshing with smoked salmon and avocado R75.

Afterwards an outstanding gelato at Unframed (https://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/unframed-ice-cream-cape-town-10-2019) and a refreshing chilli ginger juice from Dr. Juice completed the satisfying lunch venture.

The setting is really lovely with the water and Table Mountain in the background. There was also a drumming band entertaining us throughout lunch in the plaza lined with statues of South Africa's Nobel peace prize winners.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1466689 2019-10-16T07:08:22Z 2019-10-16T07:08:23Z Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant, Cape Town 10-2019

Although South African food was high on my priority list, it seemed a bit silly not to seek out the food from other African countries. Interestingly there are only a handful of pan-African restaurants (like Mama Africa, Gold, Marco's) and even fewer specialty ones I could find. Ethiopian is something we've always enjoyed and so we ventured for that.

There's Lucy and Addis both nearby, and I chose Lucy because it was a little closer (and the Google rating marginally higher 4.7 vs. 4.4). For a while we were the only 2 diners on a Monday night. It's a nicely decorated setting full of African tapestries, decorations and faces adorning the walls.

The service was all smiles and banter - excellent hospitality worthy of the 15% tip I gave. The food is good too. I learnt about mitmita, the hotter sister of berbere although the waiter said none of the dishes had it in them. I think by the end what he meant was they save the mitmita for the Ethiopians, under the assumption noone else will enjoy or can handle the heat. That sounds like a challenge for next time, as the berbere was spicy but only mildly so.

- Buticha R40 - I've never tried crispy injera, but here is was deepfried to a crisp porous chip with the distinctive tangy taste and sprinkled with berbere. It was served with two delicious dips of blended chickpeas (although I wonder if it was yellow lentils) and homemade cottage cheese with sauteed spinach. Excellent and unique dish;
- Combo (select 2 half portions of dishes for the injera) R155 x2 - white injera lined the plate and was served with doro wot drumstick (excellent dark scarlet earthy spicy chilli sauce with an egg and a drumstick), yebeg alicha (very meaty-tasting lamb with garlic, ginger and clarified butter), misir wot (red split lentils in berbere with a less intense sauce than the doro wot) and mushroom (cleanly cooked with garlic and delicious). My favourite was clearly the doro wot, but the others were nice and complemented well.

I really wanted to try the special kitfo of beef tartar, but that choice was vetoed. Next time, with doro wat then. Maybe with some mitmita on top.

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi