MELBOURNE | Abesha Restaurant Footscray is a great place for Melburnians who are looking for Ethiopian food, whether its a first experience of the cuisine or not. The space is simple, with a few tables and seats, and Ethiopian music playing through the speakers. An assortment of decorations and posters line the walls, including a photo of Hugh Jackman enjoying a meal at the restaurant – it’s supposedly his favourite Ethiopian restaurant in Melbourne.
Ethiopian dishes are characterized by the variety of spices used to give them their exotic taste, and there’s a short number of dishes on the menu that covers all the essentials and classic dishes. Where possible, ingredients and produce are sourced locally. Ethiopian food is designed for sharing, and what you do at Abesha is order an assortment of dishes, which come served on a large bowl lined with injera. Injera is is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture that’s perfect for picking up curries and mopping up sauces.
The gored gored here is a highlight – raw beef (cubed not minced) with Ethiopian butter, spicy powder and, chili awaze hot sauce. If you haven’t had raw beef before, this is a great way to try it – the fragrant spices and soft texture of the meat mean that if you didn’t know it was raw you wouldn’t be able to tell. Wat, a kind of chopped red onion meat stew, is also delicious and comes with your choice of meat – the lamb is our favourite. Tibbs, another popular Ethiopian dish, is also very good at Abesha. It’s tender chopped lamb sauteed with onion, green chili, rosemary, seasoned Ethiopian butter, and herbs. If you’re not sure what to order, go for the ‘Abesha Special’ which gives you four of the most popular dishes on the menu.
One thing which we did think was odd at first was that the sambusas were served with a side of what basically amounted to tomato ketchup, but further investigation revealed that is the way they are supposed to be served – with a sweet, tomato based sauce. Sambusa are essentially Ethiopian samosas – golden pastry shells filled with either spiced vegetables or spiced chopped beef and red onions. For us, the vegetarian ones were actually tastier than the meat ones, with the spices coming through more balanced, rather than being overpowered by the meat.
For drinks, there are a few Ethiopian beers on offers, along with Ethiopian and Australian wine. All alcohol is keenly priced, and non-alcoholic drinks are available for those who don’t want booze.
327 Barkly Street
Telephone: (03) 9687 0564
Mon – Sun: 11:00am to 11:45pm