It isn’t often that one comes across an Ethiopian restaurant. In fact, according to Habesha they are the only one in Manchester. I nearly had as hard a time finding this restaurant as I did picturing what might be on their menu — I didn’t really know any Ethiopian food!
Tucked away behind Canal Street and accessible only via a spiral staircase in the corner of a kebab shop, Habesha offers a rare opportunity to glimpse authentic Ethiopian food. The restaurant may be more suited to the more adventurous among us.
Browsing the menu certainly takes less time than finding the restaurant, given that there is just one option under the “chicken” heading, two under “beef”, three under “lamb” and two more under “vegetarian”. This means there is a grand total of eight dishes with names such as Kitfo, Yetsom Beyaynetu, and Doro Wot. Hence why earlier I suggest the restaurant to someone more at home out of their culinary comfort zone — this is no lemon and herb Nandos.
To get a good feel for the overall quality I ordered one each of the meat dishes. The Kitfo, a minced beef dish served, as with all the dishes at Habesha, with a traditional flatbread called Injera; rich and spicy, and flavoured well with cardamom. A sort of African curry, that worked very well with the flatbread. However, the meal would have been enhanced with the introduction of rice to add a little more texture to the dish, as was probably the case for all of the dishes.
The Yebeg Wot — slow cooked lamb to you and me — was also very well spiced with an excellent kick coming from the traditional hot sauce, or berbere. It was obvious the lamb was indeed slow cooked as it almost fell apart in the process of trying to scoop it up with the Injera. The chicken dish was perhaps the worst of the three, but that is not to say it was terrible. It slightly lacked the same depth of flavour and the same punch, perhaps being designed to cater for the slightly less adventurous.
All in all I would wholeheartedly recommend Habesha to anyone who likes to experiment with food. You will have the opportunity to try a very different cuisine in a unique location, all washed down with a traditional Ethiopian lager for just £2.50 a bottle. Alternatively, if you prefer to stick to what you know then perhaps steer clear.