The Red Sea
4717 University Avenue
San Diego, CA
In keeping with the spotlight theme this month on City Heights, I gathered together a few friends to meet at “The Red Sea” for dinner. Anna and Rich live in the City Heights neighborhood, and this restaurant was one of her recommendations. Roshne was born in Ethiopia and just recently came back from a vacation to her country. Although she was raised in Canada after the age of 5, her mother cooked the traditional Ethiopian food and she was anxious to try it here. Bette had never had Ethiopian food before, and was game to try it.
The menu was very interesting. Under appetizers there was a green salad, tomato slices and a Sambussa Pastry shell filled with lentils, green peppers, spiced with cumin, and green onion. Prices ranged from $1.75 to $5.
There were 11 different meat entrees, priced from $7.99-$10.99; and there were 6 vegetarian entrees, priced from $6.50-$7.99.
Additionally, there were 5 House Specials that ranged in price from $7.99-$8.99.
There was only one dessert listed – Baklava – and it was $1.50.
Their beverages included authentic wines, beers, and standard drinks.
The restaurant is relatively small – 9 tables, and a counter in the “back room” for those ordering to go orders, or just a singleton eating a meal. There was one television on, and I was a little surprised it was not on to the Charger game; rather it was an interview on CNN with Newt Gingrich! I had called for reservations and our table was already set up when we arrived. There was a sign telling other diners to “seat yourself.”
Our waitress, Zahi, was wonderful. She answered questions, made suggestions, kept our water glasses filled, and had a beautiful smile. Midway through the meal the owner – or chef – not sure what her title might be – came and asked us how we liked the food and was very pleasant. There were several other diners in the restaurant.
We ordered several different items –
Tibs, which was pan roasted strips of beef simmered with onion, butter, berbere sauce and spices,
Awaze Tibs, Tender beef cooked in spice and a special red pepper
Yedero Wot – Spicy chicken stewed in red peppered sauce with an assortment of spices and
Yebeg Siga Wot – a mild lamb stew, delicately spiced with garlic, ginger and other spices (served with injera)
We were asked if we wanted separate plates, or if we wanted it on a “community” plate. We elected the community plate.
If you have never eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant before let me tell you it is quite an experience. There are no plates, and no eating utensils. You are served an endless amount of Injera, a flat bread that resembles tripe on one side. It is steamed and delicious. You use the Injera to pick up the item you want to eat.
Without question all of us enjoyed each other’s orders as well as our own.. The salad in the middle of the plate worked well with all of the different tastes . And different it was – none of what we ordered tasted the same. Each entrée had a distinctive taste, some spicy; some mild.
The bill for the 5 of us came to $55, including tip. Eleven dollars each. We had so much food that we were all stuffed – and both Anna and I took home the leftovers. There is enough in our doggie boxes for another full meal for 4 people.
We are all in agreement – we will return. It was a delightful evening.