Last year we discovered an Ethiopian restaurant that popped up inside a ramen shop on Kapahulu Avenue. One day it disappeared and no one knew where it went. Until now.
Tucked away on Smith Street in Chinatown, Ethiopian Love Restaurant opened its doors in time for last week’s First Friday crowd. Utilizing the bold flavors of onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger and traditional spice blends called berbere and kebe, a clarified butter, owners Abraham Samuel and his fiancee bring out extravagant family-style dishes that you eat with your hands.
Our party of nine sat outside in a beautiful courtyard that you can glimpse from the street. The menu is manageable with a few appetizers, six entrees and nine vegan options. We had one vegetarian in the group who was already a fan; he helped us navigate the menu.
Everything you order is family-style and served on a bed of injera. We broke off pieces and mopped up bites from communal plates:
• Ethiopian Love veggie sampler ($20 for six vegetarian dishes of the day)
• Spicy awaze tibs ($17), sauteed beef with caramelized onions, tomato, bell pepper and berbere
• Lamb tibs ($18), a bold dish of onions, garlic, ginger, rosemary and kebe. It reminded me of a savory pork sausage in flavor
• Doro tibs ($14), chicken sauteed with onions, garlic, tomatoes, spices and herbs
• Love Shiro ($18), a thick, flavorful stew of seasoned ground chickpeas, cubed beef, kebe, garlic and karya
Remember, injera is a very filling carb, so keep that in mind when you’re ordering. We all shared a veggie sampler and four entrees and it comfortably fed the group. Our total came out to $20 per person including tax and tip, making Ethiopian Love Restaurant an affordable dining option.
Ethiopian Love Restaurant
1112 Smith St.
Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10:00 p.m.