Location: SW 9th and Washington
Hours: Weekdays, lunchtime
Portland has a thriving and robust Ethiopian community with numerous restaurants and markets. We’ve been fans for years since we moved to north Portland and am now even more excited to see that Emame’s has opened a Ethiopian food cart.
There are a few out there who make the snide jokes about Ethiopian food or lack thereof based on the last 30 years of news. Well, let them be ignorant, that’s more amazing food for the rest of us. The first experience with Ethiopian food is something everyone who loves to eat should experience. The individual dishes are served either atop or with injera, a spongy flatbread made from teff, a fine grain from the region. Traditionally, no flatware is supplied – you eat the meal with your hands and part of the experience is to tear off a piece of injera and use it to grasp the salads or stews before you. While feeding yourself, you also feed your partner, by hand, creating a sensual eating experience.
Emame’s menu has the traditional dishes I have come to expect – stewed meats in berbere sauce; lentils simmered in berbere sauced and onions; salads. Berbere s a spice mixture whose ingredients usually include chili peppers, ginger, cloves, coriander, allspice, and rue berries and is a key ingredient in Ethiopian and Eritrean food. While it can be spicy if paired with other hot peppers, in and of itself, berbere is more flavorful than spicy. The dish I enjoyed was the miser alecha, split lentils sauteed with onions, garlic, ginger and spices. The meal was served with plenty of injera, a side salad with mixed greens and a chopped cabbage salad. The injera, soft and spongy was the best wrap for the lentil dish. I could taste hints of the garlic and ginger mixed with a bit of earthiness from the lentils. While Emame’s did provide me with utensils, I used the injera throughout the meal, scooping up every little bit and shoving it in my mouth to enjoy. Be sure to have plenty of napkins.
Trust me, eating with your fingers is a wonderful experience and allows you to get closer to the food and maybe enjoy it on a different level. Reason 1 why I love Ethiopian food. The lot at SW 9th and 10th and Alder which use to house Escape from New York Pizza back in the day has become the international food court for food carts and now we have our second cart from Africa. Let’s welcome Emame’s to the food cart community and enjoy some great food. When you visit, and I know you will, let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
All dishes are $6 and are served with injera, a side and a sauce
- Dora Watt: Ethiopian National Dish; spicy chicken slowly simmered in Berbere sauce and other spices.
- Siga Watt: beef stewed with berbere sauce then flavored with onions, garlic and ginger root.
- Tibs: beef cubed and sauteed in Kibe (Ethiopian clarified butter) and seasoned with onions, tomatoes, and spices.
- Miser Kay Wat: red split lentils simmered in berbere sauce, onions, garlic and ginger.
- Miser Alecha: split lentils sauteed with onions garlic, ginger and spices.
Hours: Monday-Friday, lunchtime