Thursday, January 17, 2013

Messob Ethopian Cuisine

Address: 1109 Mackenzie Ave. (in the Cook Street Food Court)
Phone: (250) 382-1501
Price: ~$10 for an entree
Notes: Simple, filling and savoury Ethiopian

Messob is located within the Food Court building, just off of Cook Street on Mackenzie Street (not to be confused with McKenzie Ave!).  The food court is a house that has been renovated to hold a handful of small food vendors, with an outdoor area for food carts during the daytime. Like the other vendors in the space, Messob is nothing fancy - a stove, a few dishes for holding things at temperature and a fridge. There are a cluster of tables in the food court if you choose to eat  Initially, they only took cash but these days debit is also an option.

Ethopian cuisine was a little bit daunting to me the first time I tried it, as the smells and textures are definitely not familiar to a 'Western' palate, but once I got over my silly uncertainty I found myself craving the savoury and delicious combination of flavours. I still haven't made it to the other Ethopian restaurant in Victoria, the Blue Nile, so I have little to compare Messob to, but the fact this little booth has survived in the Cook St food court when others have come and gone certainly must speak for something!

The menu is fairly small, and to be honest I have primarily stuck to the one dish so far, but there are both vegetarian and carnivore options, as well as some mix & match items that remain mysterious to me. The combo dishes are a combination of african stews, vegetables and injera bread, a spongy sourdough-esque flatbread traditionally used in place of cutlery to scoop and deliver the dish into your mouth.

December 11, 2012

Meat Combo
Spicy Meat Combo

This is definitely my standby dish when I visit. The meat stew is incredibly flavourful with spices I am mostly completely unfamiliar with. It's on the watery side, and clearly has been cooked for a long time to allow the meat to become completely soft and fall apart in your mouth. The side vegetables include cabbage, a tuber and squash. The bread is the most interesting part. It certainly has a different texture to pancakes, despite looking somewhat similar. "Spongy" is definitely a good descriptor, although it sounds kind of unsavoury. It is made from a "teff" flour, and is full of vitamins and amino acids. It is also fermented, so that it takes on a sour flavour that compliments the savoury stew well. 

December 11, 2012
The service was a little (er, a lot) slacker than usual here today. True we were the only customers, and it's food-court so not formal at all, but the woman was having a conversation on her cell phone the entire time we were there - with the exception of taking our order - and it felt slightly awkward. However it was hard to tell if there might be some urgency to her need to have the conversation, so I try not to judge... but it certainly felt much more casual than service I usually see here.