During our visit to Commercial Drive, we decided to have lunch at Harambe Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant right on Commerical Drive (at 6th). This was our first visit to the restaurant, though we had eaten Ethiopian once before, years ago.
You really can't miss the restaurant, with its bumblebee colours; inside, the interior was just as colourful, with orange walls, blue table cloth, and lots of thriving green plants. It doesn't feel like a fine dining restaurant or a hipster hang, but the restaurant is humble and is itself, you know? The place felt very vibrant, warm and alive.
For drinks, Shane, out of form, ordered the Ethiopian coffee. Now for those not familiar with Ethiopian coffee, it's dark and strong like expresso, and doesn't come with cream, for those of you who like their coffee light. It was good, not bitter at all.
I had their spiced tea, which arrived with cinammon scented water and a tea bag. This was lovely: light tasting, spicy, and beautifully fragrant.
We shared the vegetarian platter ($19.99). The food came on a round, massive metal platter. Most conveniently, there were two mounds of each type of food. As is the Ethopian tradition, the little curries and food arrived atop a layer of injera bread. We were also given a side of rolled up injera bread, which was springy, spongey, and had a soft texture. It tasted a little like sourdough, with a nice tang. Of course, there were no utensils, because we were supposed to eat with our hands. For some people, this might seem weird, but it's really quite fun. In Thailand, we eat with our hands a lot, though we use spoon and fork most of the time.
It's a little hard to describe every component of the dish, because I didn't take note which was which, but everything was delicious. There were 4 types of lentil stews, Gomen (a spinach dish), a steamed (?) cabbage dish, and a kind of assorted vegetable stew. In the middle was a refreshing salad. The dishes ranged in spiciness, with the one of the red lentil dishes having the most spice, and the yellow lentil dish being mild and really flavourful. The spinach dish was complex and had great flavour. It was such a fun experience tearing off a piece of injera, and picking up a bit of stew and popping that into your mouth. This was a lot of food. We managed to eat most of it, including some of the injera foundation, but we could not finish it all.
We were really full. This was a great experience. Sharing of the platter and eating with our hands make the dining experience a much more communal one, which is what eating together should be, right? The moment you step into this restaurant, you feel transported to a different land. The music, warm colours, and the friendly service make Harambe a beautiful respite from the greyness of Vancouver.