We love living in NYC because we get to visit so many different restaurants of various cultures. Ethiopian food is one of our favorites and our go-to place is Queen of Sheba, a modest-sized restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. Ethiopian food isn't the prettiest of foods, but eating it is a fun experience - we eat with our hands, taste different spicy flavors, and actually feel fairly full after the meal (we ordered enough for 4 people!)
We always order a bottle of Algerian wine ($22) mainly because we have rarely seen a bottle from Algeria in a wine store. This bottle is also a good price point, goes well with the food, and is an easy-to-drink fruity red wine.
Azifa ($5): This appetizer is made with green lentils, onions, chili peppers, and mustard vinaigrette. The azifa was tangy, a little grainy, and had a nice heartiness to it from the lentils. It is eaten using injera, the large, flat sourdough bread similar to a crepe.
Sambousa ($3.50): These triangles of spicy meat-stuffed phyllo dough are similar to Indian samosas. They are also found in Turkish and Somali cuisine. We liked the piping hot mixure and crispy shell.
Folded injera that came with our main dish. Injera has a spongy texture and a tangy taste. To eat with it, you're supposed to tear a piece (about the size of your palm) and scoop the food on the side with the holes. In Ethiopia, feeding others with large pieces of injera is a sign of friendship and respect (this practice is called Gursha). We have trouble feeding ourselves without making a mess, so suffice it to say, my hubby and I did not try Gursha.
Taste of Sheba sampler ($16.95) with Doro Wot ($13.45): These lumps of food (i.e. Wot) definitely taste better than they look! Wot is a thick stew made with onions, various chili peppers and spices, and meat or vegetables. It is also eaten with the injera. On the communal plate, we have various wots:
Doro Wot (center): a spicy wot of slow-cooked chicken legs and a boiled egg.
Sampler (all around the circumference of the plate):
Tibs Wot: Tibs are cubes of lean beef that are sauteed first before cooking in the wot.
Menchet Abish Wot: Ground lean beef grounded that is cooked in a mild green pepper sauce, red wine, and jalapeno peppers, then seasoned with ginger and garlic.
Menchet Abish Alecha: The alecha is milder than the wot, but the preparation is the same.
Gomen Besega: This uses the milder alecha seasoning and contains marbled beef and collard greens.
Bozena Shiro: This lean marinated beef is cooked in a chick pea gravy.
Yebeg Wot: Spicy lamb stew.
Yebeg Alecha: A milder version of the Yebeg Wot.
This restaurant is also a nice place to take vegetarian friends as there are plenty of vegetarian wots as well as a vegetarian sampler.
Queen of Sheba is located at 650 10th Ave (btwn 45th and 46th Sts.)