Thursday, January 20, 2011


Abesha Footscray

"you know the food's going to be good when the outside of the building is painted like a rasta zebra", says mobile reviewer Shain Singh of Abesha on Urbanspoon.  Following this logic we chose Abesha as the venue for the inaugural Westside Food Bloggers' Meetup last December.

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The gun shop next door used to be on Abesha's current premises and the old sticker still makes me laugh.  Footscray does have its fair share of odd combination businesses but injera and bullets would take the cake!

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It's cool inside with a slate floor and the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony corner that so many restaurants share.  Above Ethiopian music videos play.  I love the particular beat that their music has and the videos are so joyous.

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We left it up to the good folks at Abesha to bring us their choice of dishes.  I tried to get all the names but we were all having too much of a nice time to stress too much, so here is a small selection, the names of which I am confident.  Above are a mixed plate of sambusa which are pastry-wrapped goodies resembling samosas.  I had a curried vegie one that was quite nice.

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Lega tibs

Tibs generally means that the meat is in chunks and the preparation will be dry, like a stir-fry, rather than a stew.  I thought this was great, although others were so-so.  The meat was neither tough nor overly tender, cooked in butter with onion.  I do like African Town's tibs the best though, particularly as they have lots of fresh green chilli.

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Gored gored

This was delicious.  Chunks of beef cooked in a similar fashion to the tibs, in butter with onion but with the addition of berbere, Ethiopia's national spice blend.

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Aletcha wat

Wat in a dish description will mean it is a "wet" curry or stew whereas aletcha or alicha dishes will mean there is no berbere or hot spice, that it will be mild with the use of turmeric, ginger and garlic.  This was a minced meat dish that was very mild and very delicious.
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Yemisir wat
This is a stew of red lentils similar to the aletcha wat, the above minced meat dish, but here cooked with tender lentils and berbere hot red spice.  The ginger was particularly prominent here and the lentils were very well cooked, not at all mushy and still retaining their shape.
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This is a mashed fava or broad bean dish which is common across much of the Middle East and East Africa.  It is even seen in Syria and Lebanon where the broad beans are left whole and drizzled with yoghurt and olive oil (recipe from a friend coming soon).  Others on the table enjoyed this version but I found it too plain, being more used to having the beans spiced and dressed with more cheese and oil.  Other good versions in Footscray can be found at African Cottage and Khartoum Centre Restaurant.
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Ah, the best reason for eating Ethiopian food!  Sometimes I want to lie back and put this over my eyes a la cucumbers.  It is so soft, cool and delicious.  I put small dollops of each dish on my plate and used small pieces to pinch up morsels of each dish.  Mister did comment that the taste of each dish was quite different when not eaten with injera, as injera has quite a pronounced sour flavour, similar to sourdough bread, unlike something neutral like rice.

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The service was lovely and beers were cheap at just $5, although beware the $8 corkage.  I did find the food somewhat oily, which I am sure is authentic - in many countries around the world, cooking oil is the main source of calories.  The portion sizes did seem smaller compared to other local Ethiopian options but it was hard to judge in a large group meal situation.  Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the food, and the company too!

Abesha's Ethiopean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

327 Barkly St, Footscray (map)
Phone:  9687 0564
Wheelchair Accessibility
Entry:  Level.
Layout:  Spacious.


  1. Injera: "Sometimes I want to lie back and put this over my eyes a la cucumbers."

    Gosh - what vivid imagery! Do your children and husband sometimes look at you as if you're a little ... um ... left of centre? :)

  2. Wow, I love these posts they're so authentic... loving the look of tibs and ful... I'm going there when I'm in Melb next!

  3. Oooh yum, I remember the injeras… So soft, fluffy, light, piquant and yeasty. Perfect base-station for all the other dishes!

  4. You go adventurous! Keep up the great work and really enjoying your posts!

  5. I have just found your blog and...Thank you! I am a newbie in footscray and love all the restaurants here- delicious, authentic and cheap- all the things I look for! I am going to go through your site and choose somewhere new to eat every week :)

  6. Kenny, they would not even blink! Come on, that is my new party-plan scheme you are questioning - injera facials! I'm gonna be RICH!

    Dani, thank you so much for reading and I love getting your comments. :) You are the adventurous one - such a fantastic experience you are having!

    Bryan, it is the best, I often buy it and make curries to have with it at home. Yummy!

    Thang, I am so glad. We are totally spoilt in Footscray. There are only a handful of African restaurants in the rest of Melbourne and here we have Ethiopian, Eritrean, Sudanese, pan-African...

    Kate, I am so happy! Welcome to the neighbourhood. Let me know what you think and if you find any goodies you think are worth sharing.

  7. They have been having cultural banquet nights every three months for $25pp. This includes all you can eat as well as dancing displays as well as their amazing good coffee. The smell of roasting beans fills the entire place it's fantastic!

    Keep an eye out for their next one. Cheers Simon.

  8. Melb definitely has the edge over Syd for African food... jealous!

  9. Ful is my favourite dish of the night!

  10. Hey I'd love to be involved in the westside food bloggers' meet-up next time. How can I get involved?

  11. Mairead, absolutely! I am just putting something together now for March and will post it on the blog soon.

    Simon, thanks for that tip, that sounds like excellent value and a great night! I will definitely keep my eye out for the next one.

  12. Aah we missed out big time!!! *sad*

  13. This place serves absolutely fantastic food. I agree with you on the injera. I am on a neverending quest to find it in Sydney, but to no avail...

  14. Lau, bummer!! Next time I am at a bakery I will ask if they know anywhere in Sydney. Meanwhile I am jealous of all that wonderful Thai-Lao food Sydney has that Melbourne does not! *sniff*


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