Ziada Restaurant

This is my 2nd experience with Ethiopian cuisine after my last visit at Lalibela which is now closed. I bought a Groupon for Ziada — $29 for 4 dishes and 4 glasses of wine. I was initially a bit wary since the deal sounded too good to be true, but the excellent service and delicious food left me in awe. We were given a choice between red and white wine, and the 4 dishes could be anything on the menu with no limitations. Most of us opted for red wine, but the white actually tasted better because it was chilled. Since it was such a hot sunny day, the red was kind of lukewarm.

Due to our limited experience with Ethiopian food, we didn't have a concept of what we would like, so we asked one of the servers for his recommendation. He was very helpful and planned out our entire order for us. We ended up with one dish each of beef, lamb, chicken and veggie. He didn't shy away from the more expensive dishes because we were using a Groupon. Instead he recommended the most expensive dishes in each category such as the mixed variety of veggies ($10) in the veggie section and the kitfo ($12) in the beef section. The veggies came on a few large pieces of injera, an Ethiopian steamed flatbread made with an iron-rich grain called teff. The injera tasted just like the one at Lalibela with a bit of sourness that balanced out the spicy and flavourful toppings.

The beef dish we got was the kitfo ($12), which is lean minced beef seasoned with spiced butter. The server told us we should order it well done and we went along with his suggestion, but I think he forgot and gave us raw instead. Because if what we got was well done, then I don't want to know what raw looks like. We actually prefer raw beef though, so we were happy with it. When the dish came, the server scooped the meat onto the injera for us. I thought it looked and tasted just like steak tartare, except for small parts of it that were slightly seared and brown.

The beef also came with a side of spinach and homemade cheese.

Next was the lamb zigni combo ($11), a curried lamb stew with cabbage and other veggies. This was the mildest dish of all, partly because we asked for as little spiciness as possible. But I enjoyed it quite a bit because the lamb was tender and the mildness was rather soothing.

The chicken dish, or the qulwa derho ($11), was made with tender marinated pieces of chicken with peppers, onions, garlic, tomato, rosemary and a few other spices. Since we ordered the rest of the dishes mild, the server told us to make the chicken medium spicy. The flavour was piquant and intense, and reminded me of Chinese style spicy stir-fried chicken.

We were also given a few extra rolls of injera bread on the side. We didn't manage to finish all of it though.

After the server dumped all of our dishes onto the injera, we dug in with our hands the proper Ethiopian way. We each took a roll of injera and used small pieces to scoop up the toppings. As the pile of toppings grew smaller, we started ripping out the sides of the bread underneath and used that instead. It was a fun experience eating with our hands and sharing the same plate.

As we were enjoying our food and wine, we could smell the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans. One of the servers was roasting Ethiopian coffee beans over an open fire in the corner of the store right beside our table. She came by every table and invited us to take a whiff. After the coffee was done, she even offered us complimentary samples. The brew was rich and flavourful, but I would have preferred to try it black. She had added a lot of sugar, making it very sweet like a dessert drink. It was much harder to appreciate the flavour of the coffee itself with the sweetness in the way. When we told her this, she immediately offered to give us another sample with no sugar. But we were already too full from the food and the wine and the previous samples, so we'll have to wait till next time!

Ziada Eritrean Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. awww Lalibela closed??

    mm raw beef =D

    You know, I remember when I first met you - you ate french fries from A&W with a fork. It still astounds me to no small degree that you'll readily dig in with your hands to eat.

  2. I still eat burgers and fries with a fork. But I am willing to comply if it's a unique cultural experience :P

  3. "willing to comply".....


  4. Actually, borg, I think.

  5. Eat burgers and fries with a fork???? HERETIC!!!!

    Haha, actually, I do too sometimes if the burger is masssive and messy....

  6. @pyaria: I tried to come up with a comment in response but failed, so... no comment :P

    @Peter: I just hate getting my hands dirty when I eat out. I think part of it is dreading the usually less-than-clean public washrooms.


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