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Abay Ethiopian (Pittsburgh)


wc4572
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A little help needed from any other Pittsburgh folks or anyone that has been to an Ethiopian restaurant. I can't find anyone that has been there and I've never experienced Ethiopian. I'm really looking for a reliable review of the place, but I'll take any input on Ethiopian food. Thinks I must try, things to avoid, similarities to other foods, etc. Thanks.

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I've only had their food at functions, not in the restaurant. Because of those experiences judged against Ethiopian I've had in DC and NY, I've not eaten there. I get to DC often enough to sate my cravings. However, many people who haven't had other Ethiopian experiences to compare fully enjoy Abay and the other one (can't recall the name) because it's a whole different experience.

It's hard to describe as the spice blends are fairly unique to the cuisine. But you'd be somewhat safe calling it a fourth cousin by marriage to So. Indian cuisine. The use of yogurt, nitr kibe(ghee) and berbere (essentially a curry paste, heavy with red peppers) is common. Don't expect a lot of nuance in the spicier dishes, their appeal is in the assertiveness. There's not a lot of meat - it's used more as an ingredient, not the featured component of most dishes. Legume dishes are plentiful and range from bland from spicy. A good selection of dishes would also feature numerous different textures. And if they offer you awaze, don't get any on your hands and don't try much more than a pinhead of the stuff until you think your system can take it. The first time I had it (at the old Red Sea in DC) I thought my tongue was going to bubble up and melt off - and I've won hot pepper eating contests before. It was ridiculous. Maybe Abay's isn't that strong - you should hope so!

The real fun is in the eating. No utensils (except perhaps for soup). For the entree you get a plate covered with injera (a spongy bread). The a la carte dishes (or a chef's recommended combo) that you ordered are scooped into piles on the injera. You then tear off pieces of the injera and use those to scoop food and eat it. As dining is communal, usually the selections of all parties are scooped onto the injera so all can share.

It's unique, it's enjoyable. Go with the flow and let them recommend stuff for you if you have any trepidation. I think it's also BYO, but check their website. Beer is probably a better choice than wine. If it's to be wine, select something crisp and fruity like a Reisling.

Rich Westerfield

Mt. Lebanon, PA

Drinking great coffee makes you a better lover.

There is no scientific data to support this conclusion, but try to prove otherwise. Go on. Try it. Right now.

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