Ethiopian cuisine has always eluded me. Between the dollops of wot and the heap of tib, the center of the table always look dotted with dog feces. Not trying to ruin an entire nation’s culinary pride but.. let’s think about this: Lucy, the most complete fossil of Australopithecus was found in Ethiopia. Supposedly marks of earliest human existence is found in Ethiopia and… these plates topped with small rondels of brown mush (it’s usually brown or dark brown due to the use of berbere) is the best that the native cuisine can offer after 250,000 years of Homo existence?

You must be joking.

Case in point, the meat poo poo platter:

Don’t get me wrong. It never tastes bad. Berbere has at least a dozen spices and is actually spicy. But at Nyala (and majority of the Ethiopian restaurants in LA), there are just 2 main dishes of wonder. wat, and tib. If you remove the berbere from wat, you have the 3rd house dish: alecha. Imagine if all of French food consists of cassoulet, and bouillabaisse. That’s it. Imagine if Chinese food has only sweet and sour whatever, and kung pao insert-your-meat-of-choice. That’s it. You don’t get anything else. 365 days of stewed/stir fried poop. It’s “cool” for us Angelenos to hit up Fairfax for a culinary change of scenery. However, what I thought during my entire meal was: it’d suck to be Ethiopian and to eat this every single day.

Even the traditional bread service, injera, accompanying EVERY SINGLE DAMNED DISH, is quite ugly. Have you ever seen carpet padding? Injera looks like carpet padding, texture being nearly the same. At least it tastes better. Does anyone else notice injera, the way it’s served UNDER the main entrees at Nyala, becomes a doughy goop after it soaks up all the moisture? Just what we need, more poopy mess on your plate.

Now, having just offended 300,000+ Ethiopian-Americans in 1 fell swoop, I do have to say that the honey wine, ubiquitous to Ethiopian-American restaurants, is awesome, at least to this n00b wine palate. It’s like moscato d’asti, ie, an automatic panty dropper, but Ethiopian.

I have this theory: just like Manhattan’s Little Italy, LA’s Little Ethiopia has some of the worst Ethiopian food known to Ethiopians. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) my tongue just doesn’t have enough heart to actually turn this theory to a theorem.

PS: Nyala’s final fall from grace? Surimi in the seafood combo. Ya know, the fake crab meat that’s in every california roll? Yup. It’s in the seafood combo. Not sure when the natives started eating surimi but… ICK.

Nyala Ethiopian Cuisine

1076 South Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Nyala Ethiopian Cuisine on Urbanspoon



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  • I love Ethiopian food, even if it looks like poo. 🙂

    WeezerMonkey´s last blog post..Thai and Pie

  • laureylaurey

    blaaarg. My friends took me to an Ethiopian place in San Diego once for my birthday, and I had to ask them, “Why? What did I do to you?”

    It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. Perfect description of the injera. Yulk! The honey wine we had barely made anyone’s panties quiver, too sweet and syrupy. But maybe you guys had a better one, because I could see how a higher quality honey wine could make me swoon. The flavor was there and good, just too overpowering.

  • Liz

    I see quite a bit of progress in Ethiopian cuisine since Lucy’s time. Our ancestors had yet to discover fire during the time of the australopithecus afarensis, therefore Lucy never ate a cooked meal. I will make excuses, though. I adore Ethiopian food.

    Liz´s last blog post..On a Mission at Scoops

  • Goorsha

    You have offended the 1 million Ethiopians in North America.

    Ethiopia is the ONLY African nation with its own alphabets, original cuisine, and distinct culture. Have you ever seen any other African restaurant in America??? This tells you something.

    You sound very upset at the Ethiopian community to write such crap. It sounds that you are upset at Ethiopians. Were you dumped by an Ethiopian significant other?

    Whatever the case, I have never seen such a hateful, racist comment about Ethiopian cuisines in my life. Get lost!

    I pray for you so that the Almighty God could intervene in your life.

  • TonyC

    Goorsha, thank you for your prayers on this Easter Sunday. However, you are, not just sound like, a misled jingoist. Yes, there are MANY other African restaurants in.. holy crap.. did you just use the ENTIRE country “AMERICA” in that sentence? There are at least 3 Nigerian restaurants in LA: Saari’s, Nkechi, Veronica’s Kitchen, there is also Ghanaian (Nana & Na) and last I recall, Senegalese as well. Please reference Man Bites World before ever making an absolutely inane comment again?

  • Ethiopian “cuisine” is beyond vile. The only one who should be offended by your entry is my dog, because he will eat his own feces, but never Ethiopian food.

    Steve´s last blog post..Chicago: Gregg’s Barnyard Tour

  • Ethiopian food done well is awesome. However, when it’s prepared poorly…not so hot. Oakland, CA does Ethiopian well. Philadelphia, PA does it poorly. I’ll make a call on L.A. Ethiopian in the years to come.

    Gastronomer´s last blog post..Fresh Mango Bread

  • Yikes. I think I lost my appetite. First time in 25 years. 😉

    Diana´s last blog post..Earthquake Cake: My first post-Lent chocolate experience

  • amy

    i will pass on the poo poo platter. but, pass me some honey wine. thanks!

    amy´s last blog post..The Farm of Beverly Hills

  • I’ve alwyas loved Northern Cal Ethiopian food. Still looking for a good one down in SoCal.

    Shavedicesundays´s last blog post..The Melting Pot’s Creamy Garlic and Herb Cheese Fondue

  • connie

    i happen to actually really like ethiopian food, but hate nyala. i’ve always either gone to meals by genet or rahel ethiopian vegan restaurant. both are 150% better than nyala, in my opinion. oh well. sorry your experience wasn’t great.

  • TonyC

    Connie, thanks for the rec! I refuse to eat Vegan, and only had Genet’s at a “festival’. Will give her place a try… but maybe sometime in 2010. Done with Ethiopian (and Filipino) food this year…

  • i suspect the doors of Nyala will be closed to Sinosoul from now on.

    sook´s last blog instant hummus

  • love your WTF review on this one and i did say WTF the couple of times after you :)-
    Love your style here as well, I knew I couldn’t never be as good as yours >_<


  • can you please update your blog. i hate seeing this post on your front page.

  • dang, when you put it like that… I agree it’s not photogenic either

  • heh, funny that my last post happened to be on Ethiopian food too. Yea, not very camera-friendly but I do love the heavy-spice flavor.

    And you already know I love zhaliangs, so I had no trouble with the carb-on-carb action that I get using injera to pick up stew-soaked injera! HAWT!

    H.C.´s last blog post..Mini Foodventure #117: Merkato (Little Ethiopia)

  • diane

    wow, what an awful way do describe an entire nation’s food. this is my first visit to the site and i think my last. i’ve never have ethiopian cuisine but i am willing to try anything and i think opening people’s minds to trying new things rather than shutting them off with such an offensive headline is a much better option.

  • RasHabshi

    Well! So you think that Ethiopian food looks like …! I don’t know who you are what you are ! You don’t know our country our culture our history and we don’t care whatever filth you say about us!
    We were and are and will be a proud and great nation centuries before you stole the land you now call “America” from the beautiful Sioux and Cherokees and Mayans and the other tribes!
    Anyway you are stuck in the Middle East and India and China are overtaking you!

  • RasHabshi

    You say that the EthiopianAmericans will be offended by your comments! You wish!Again our race does not have a term for “inferiority complex”! Just remember this fact: we converted to Christianity before much of Europe and we welcomed the first Hijra of Moslems! So poo poo all you like!

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