Review: Muzita Bistro in San Diego

September 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

This was my first foray into Ethiopian food. I kept hearing good things regarding the vegetarian angle, and wanted to try it for a long time. For the ambiance and the yelp rating, we settled on Muzita Bistro in the University Heights neighborhood of San Diego.

We ordered every vegetarian option, with the three main dishes being the Tofu Silsi, Shiro (ground chick peas, very much like hummus but much more oily and with a tomato kick), and the Kantisha Kilwa (a vegetable dish). The food is brought out family style. Each order is combined on one large plate, which is how Ethiopian food is generally presented (although, I don’t like when restaurants insist on doing this!!!). This will pose a challenge if you go with carnivores but don’t specify to keep the vegetarian portions separate. All of the food kind of congealed together, and was topped with a very uninspired wilted salad of romaine. This was all placed on one large piece of injera bread.

Amazing Injera

Now, this injera bread is amazing. I’ve never had anything like it. It’s light and fluffy and closely mimics what it must be like to eat a thin sponge. If not for this novelty, the night’s evening would have been a bust, I’m sorry to say. The Tofu Silsi lacked flavor and wasn’t cooked in any way special. People who often cook with tofu tend to know that you can’t just throw a thick sauce on cubes and then serve. This leaves you with two distinct flavors in your mouth: 1) whatever the sauce is and 2) bland tofu. This, I’m sorry to say is what you get with the Tofu Silsi here. The Kantisha Kilwa vegetable medley had a bit of a spicy kick to it, and was the only item to go mostly unfinished at our table.

Shiro

The Shiro was another savior for the night. The dish came in a bowl separate from the congealed rif-raf in the middle of our table (pictured here). Perhaps the separation contributed to maintaining its strong distinct flavor, which was much like an oily hummus infused with tomato sauce. It was very tasty. We followed up with each of the vegetarian sides which were less memorable. The flavors are reminiscent of Indian cooking. There is the similar strong presence of the tomato base present in Ehthiopian fare. The problem here was that each of the components lacked a distinct pride of flavor, kind of like everything was cooked in the same pot.

The dessert was a nice end to the meal. A pot of chocolate, not quite literally, more along the lines of a small tea cup with a thin layer of chocolate and an overflow of whipped cream. Though the whipped cream was good, and fresh, it didn’t take away from the disappointment of realizing it was going to take a serious dig to get to the good stuff at the bottom. It did inspire the idea that I should spend some time eating in my own kitchen and maybe on experimenting with different flavors of truffles.

Order the Shiro with Injera and follow with the Pot au Chocolate and you will enjoy your meal. Skip the rest!!

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