I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ethiopian food is my all time favorite food ever; if I had to eat one cuisine for the rest of my life this is it! In college, I literally ate at Berkeley’s Ethiopian Restaurant twice a week. So when I moved back to West Los Angeles, the berbere glazed arms of Little Ethiopian comforted my little broken heart.
Awash is located just off the main Fairfax strip—on Pico where parking is infinitely easier. From your prime parking spot, meander behind the black metal security gates into the florescent lit dining room. Ignore the ‘lived in’ quality of the space, although it will send germaphobes running. Personally I could care less: the tables are clean, the bread is warm and the rickety wooden bar is packed with beer drinking Ethiopian men.
On a recent visit, two Vegetarian Combos ($10) proved to be more than enough food for the thirty grubby fingers of three ladies. Staring down at the dish, we smile, relishing this rare occasion where viscous and delicious mean the same thing. The array of rich stews of split peas and lentils probably look disgusting to newbies, but layers of supple sweet onions and sharp gingers pulsate through the purees. Served in a large metal dish atop spongy injera (lightly sour flat bread made of tef grain) we got double portions of the following (I’m listing this clockwise, starting with the big yellow blob at the bottom of the picture):
Alitcha Kik: Yellow split peas cooked and seasoned with onions, peppers and herbs. This is a perfect archetype, not watered down like so many places do over on Fairfax. Once I was stuffed on the abundant platter I kept picking at the Alitcha Kik… so… I guess that was my favorite!
Misir Wot: Split red lentils cooked in berbere sauce. With more gall, I would have snuck into the kitchen and tossed another fistful of berbere—a warm spicy African red pepper blend—into this pot. Instead, we requested a little cup of hot sauce to kick it up!
Gomen: Spinach cooked with onions and garlic. Traditionally made with collard greens, we were confused (disappointed) by the mouthful of spinach. Spinach is just too get-stuck-in-your-teeth-soft to hold up to the stewing of this dish.
Shiro: Ground, mildly spiced chick peas cooked with chopped onions and tomatoes. Unlike the mealy textures of the Alitcha Kik and Misir Wot, this dish is satiny smooth. Rich, with the background hint of tomatoes, this was my second favorite, er… lump of food.
Atkilt Wot: Carrots and potatoes delicately sautéed with peppers, onions and garlic. Normally my all time favorite Ethiopian dish, this version lacked the addictive sweet crunch of cabbage… although no one else seemed to mind.
Salad: Crispy romaine with bits of red pepper and a light Italian tasting dressing. Why does every Ethiopian restaurant insist on serving this sad little salad?!
Azefah: Green lentils, chopped onions and jalapeno pepper, seasoned with ginger, white pepper and mustard seeds. Not every Ethiopian restaurant dares to offer this unusual, crunchy, cold dish. It’s a bit of an acquired taste that I can only equate to mustard potato salad… which most people like… so, eat on! I am!
5990 1/2 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035