Muzita Abyssinian Bistro

>> Thursday, July 5, 2012

Date of Dining: 6/20/2012
Price: $8-13 appetizers, $9-21 entrees
Location: 4651 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116

The Quick Bit

+ great unique carbohydrate
+ unique cuisine style
+ african beverages available
Δ cuisine style could throw some non-adventurous eaters off
Δ appetizers could be more authentic

As many of my coworkers know that I write about food as a hobby, I often get a lot of encouragement or questions about the hobby. Based on some of the feedback I get, I've been able to improve the blog. One of the suggestions I received was to include some of my coworkers in the meals on occasion. However, that in itself presents some challenges as many coworkers are vegetarian, or perhaps not too adventurous in diet.
One day, one my coworkers raved to me about a meal he enjoyed at Muzita; after looking at the restaurant's website, I thought there might be some nice potential in a restaurant where I could invite all my coworkers along.
Muzita is an Abyssinian Bistro which serves Ethiopian or Eritrean food. What this really means is that to eat, one uses their hands and a special bread called injera to hold the food. The injera is a cross between an Indian roti and cake in that it is rolled out in sheets, but is very light and fluffy in texture. At Muzita, the injera is made in-house. The actual cuisine is somewhat of a cross between North African stews and Indian curries.  Entrees served in a large family style plate are even covered with a mini straw tagine-like cover.


teff encrusted bamya - okra, whole teff, awaze roasted tomato, caramelized cippolini onion,
golden pepper emulsion
This dish seemed to be poised as a vegetarian crowd-pleaser. The okra was nicely fried and were arranged in an artistic tower shape. 
sambusas - alitcha atakilti, hamli, dorhi tsebhi
fillings (left to right) - chicken, spinach and collard greens, stewed vegetables
The sambusas seem to be an Eritrean take on Indian samosas. They came as a variety platter of different flavors. The dough covering was nicely fried and the sambusas were enjoyable overall.
crispy calamari kilwa - cornmeal coated calamari, brined peppers, preserved lemon harrida sauce
The calamari were tasty, but again this seemed more like a crowd pleaser.


As I didn't sample all the entrees, I've only included comments on the ones I tasted.
The entrees are mainly broken down into protein or vegetable with two sauces - tsebhi and kilwa. The tsebhi is more of a heavy herbal and spice mix while the kilwa is a tomato based sauce.
tsebhi dorho (upper right) and siga kilwa (lower left) - hamli, alitcha atakilti, injera
I settled on the tsebhi dorho (chicken) as my entree and shared with siga (beef) kilwa. The entire dish was served on a bed of injera, and additional injera was provided to couple with the meal. The all of the cuisine was spiced heavily and aggressively. Of the two sauces, I appreciated the tsebhi more - there was a real depth of flavor to the sauce, which reminded me somewhat of a mole.
prawn kilwa
I also had the opportunity to try a prawn kilwa. The sauces really were the same and the protein didn't really contrast much or add much flavor to the dish. My guess is that historically, these heavily spiced dishes were developed either as a result of using the spices for preservatives or to cover the taste of spoiled meat, so the quality of the protein is somewhat covered. Still, the heavy spices were enjoyable for a meal.
shiro - ground chickpeas
As previously mentioned, I dined with a large group of vegetarians as well. Surprisingly, the shiro was the dish of the night for me. The flavor, spice, and consistency of the shiro was great. It really resembled a hummus that had been heated and taken to another level in terms of spice and texture. Paired with the injera, this was perfect for dipping and soaking in lots of flavor.


When sampling new cuisine types, it is often important to keep an open mind about the food. I felt that overall, the experience was rewarding and the food was very tasty. The injera was a very special staple food and one has to try a good one themselves to really understand how special it is.
On the other hand, a classically trained French chef sampling this food would feel that all the main components were overcooked. While this level of cooking remains loyal to the traditional aspect of the food, it could also be the last straw to ruin a non-adventurous eater's experience as there already are no utensils.
Overall Muzita is an interesting dining experience and I would return, but I'll probably order the shiro as my entree next time.


Rodzilla July 5, 2012 at 11:23 PM  

Insert joke about Ethiopian food here.

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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
None of the reviews are meant to dissuade you from trying anything by yourself, but simply to provide information for you to make a more informed choice.
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