Last weekend I took two of my hungriest friends to give the Ethiopian food at Sinbad’s Kitchen a try. I’ve only had Ethiopian food once before, back in 2007 when it became London’s latest trend food. I remember being impressed and always meant to go again, but I was a bit of a party girl back in those days and preferred to save all my money for nights out rather than dinners. So when I heard on the grapevine that Sinbad’s Kitchen in Itaewon was serving up some stellar Ethiopian cuisine I couldn’t resist giving it a try.
The special Ethiopean menu is only available at Sinbad’s Kitchen on weekends, and you also need to ask specially for ask for it as the dishes are not currently featured in the large menu you will first be presented with. As you can see it’s pretty small with just three dishes, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in flavour.
We decided to order two of the Ethiopian specials, along with the Meze Plate (13,000) from the regular menu. The Meze Plate only comes with hummus, baba ganoush and moutabal, you need to order the Turkish Bread (4,000) separately which I found irksome. When the bread arrived it was puffed up into a big round ball and was quite the show piece. The hummus was rather tasty, and had a strong sesame flavour which I personally enjoy, the Moutabal was also pretty good too with a lovely thick yogurt base. However the baba ganoush was nothing special. As a starter I felt this was rather steep, there really isn’t much food here for the price and I don’t think I would be inclined to order it again. If you still need some dip in your life I’d recommend just getting the hummus.
The first dish of the Ethiopian menu to come out was the Beyaynetu (15,000). Six different vegetables dishes and a very spicy chili pepper were served on a giant bed of injera, a traditional spongy pancake like bread that is a staple of Ethiopian cuisine. The injera itself has a bit of a sour taste at first, but you will soon get a taste for it as you use it in place of a knife and fork to pick up your side dishes. There was a real mix of textures and flavours going on with the sides. There were roasted beetroots, pickled green beans, potatoes and cabbage, spinach, chilies, curry, and lentils. The standouts for me were the potatoes with cabbage and the green beans, the curry was also very tasty too. Everything had such an intense flavour which is so hard to describe, every dish packed a real punch without being too salty or spicy. It’s a dish you certainly need to experience for yourself.
Our second dish was Tibse (16,000). Fried beef, peppers, and onions served with more injera. The beef in this dish was one of the tastiest things I have put in my mouth in months. The flavour on the meat was incredible, I have no idea what it was cooked in but it was very reminiscent of lamb, the blend of rosemary and spices that they used were so perfectly balanced that every mouthful was a joy to behold. The dish also came with some spicy powder that we didn’t end up using but will be sure to try next time. By this point we were absolutely stuffed, two dishes are certainly ample for three people, though I will be sure to take a large group with me next time as I have to try the third dish and don’t want to miss out on getting the Beyaynetu or the Tibse again.
Sinbads kitchen is located at 3F 127-12, itaewon 1(il)-dong, yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. Turn back on yourself and walk to the corner, the entrance to Sinbads Kitchen is just to the left of Olive Young, and the restaurant is on the third floor. For more information you can call them on 02-792-0069 or check out their facebook page for more details. They are currently only offering the Ethiopean menu from Friday – Sunday 12pm – 10pm.