May 9, 2010

Queen of Sheba - Ethiopian restaurant

Queen of Sheba Ethiopean Restaurant
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!)
Algerian wine
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.
Ethiopean bread
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.
Queen of Sheba platter
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.)


  1. We have now two Ethiopian restaurants in Edmonton. I studied this country with my students many years ago, too. I have eaten at both of our local restaurants and both times enjoyed the novelty and the learning experience. Neither time did I enjoy the flavours or the textures of the food. The restaurant owners are lovely and informative and a wealth of information. The injera flatbread is very sponge-like and flavourless... at least the ones I have had. The stews were made with very strong flavoured meats and the meats were tough. The sauces grainy and rough. I felt awkward as I appreciate the offering and the culture. But the food was very off putting to me. I loved the communal eating. I would definitely try another Ethiopian restaurant... but after two, maybe I just don't like the primary flavours of this culture. I am not sure. I do want to try again another place, and even better - a home cooked Ethiopian meal.

  2. @Valerie - A home cooked Ethiopian meal would definitely be a great experience! I wonder if you would have liked the vegetarian offerings in the Alecha preparation as the flavor is milder and the greens easier to eat.


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