Past midnight all week long this "solid anchor of the U Street renaissance" is 'jammed with Ethiopian expats "enjoying " fresh, cheap and delicious "fare delivered by a "friendly" staff wearing " authentic garb"; "try to dip in" after 10 PM "when the music starts" courtesy of live native bands, where using injera bread to scoop up the "unpretentious", "unbeatable" edibles is "lots of fun if you like eating with your hands..." >>more
'Little Ethiopia' takes root in D.C.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Inside Dukem, one of the city's best-known Ethiopian restaurants, the bustle on the street seems far-removed as burning incense mingles with the aroma of spicy stews.
On a small stage, performers in sequined white gowns thump on drums and sing traditional music from the East African nation. Patrons sitting nearby use their fingers -- no forks here -- to tear into spongy pancakes and scoop up exotic cuisine such as awaze tibs, which is lamb marinated with jalapeno, tomato and garlic.
"You feel like you're in your own country when you come here," said Tefera Zewdie, the owner of Dukem, who left Ethiopia as a teenager 20 years ago. more >>
Washington: Nation's largest Ethiopian community carves niche By Brian Westley, Associated Press WASHINGTON - Inside Dukem, one of the city's best-known Ethiopian restaurants, the bustle on the street seems far removed as burning incense mingles with the aroma of spicy stews.
On a small stage, performers in sequined white gowns thump on drums and sing traditional music from the East African nation. Patrons sitting nearby use their fingers - no forks here - to tear into spongy pancakes and scoop up exotic cuisine such as awaze tibs, which is lamb marinated with jalapeno, tomato and garlic.
A new ethnic identity is taking root in a once-decaying neighborhood not far from the White House, where 10 Ethiopian restaurants are clustered together and dingy storefronts are now splashed with bright hues of blues, yellows and reds.
"You feel like you're in your own country when you come here," said Tefera Zewdie, the owner of Dukem, who left Ethiopia as a teenager 20 years ago.
The Washington region has the world's biggest Ethiopian community outside of Africa, according to the Ethiopian Embassy. The 2000 Census reports 15,000 Ethiopians have settled in the Washington area. But the embassy and those who study African immigration argue that number is far too low, saying the actual number is closer to 200,000.
Now this growing ethnic group wants to be recognized in the city by naming a street "Little Ethiopia." >>more
Washington's Little Ethiopia
A New Cluster of Restaurants Brings Exotic (Yet Inexpensive) Appeal to Ninth and U St
By Walter Nicholls
But the best-known Ethiopian restaurant in the neighborhood is the six-year-old Dukem. Owner Tefera Zewdie says that when he opened, the majority of his customers were from back home. "So much has changed in the last year and a half," says Zewdie, who has an adjoining carryout. On weekend nights in Dukem's outdoor area, there's a barbecue where Ethiopian-spiced New York strip steaks are grilled. "Now, I have far more white and African American customers," Zewdie says.
The Washington region, with its 200,000 people of Ethiopian descent, has the largest Ethiopian population outside of the country itself, according to an unofficial estimate by the embassy. With the addition of Etete, which specializes in vegetarian meals, 10 Ethiopian restaurants now are clustered at U Street east of 13th and in the 1900 block of Ninth Street. Each has its distinct ambiance and fans.
The new enclave has twice as many Ethiopian restaurants as Adams Morgan, where Ethiopian entrepreneurs began opening food businesses in the late 1970s. The exotic and inexpensive cuisine attracts not only fellow countrymen but especially students and tourists. Meals are a communal, social activity, and there is no need for a knife and fork. Ethiopian is all about finger food.
Diners gather around a single, circular platter covered with a soft, 16-inch pancake or bread called injera . Spicy stews, seasoned vegetables and pureed legumes are artfully placed around the pancake. Additional injera are served alongside. That's when it's time to tear a section of the bread and use it to gather a mouthful from the assorted offerings. When the underlying pancake, soaked with sauce, is consumed, the meal is considered complete. ... >>more
Once just a corner market, this U Street standby is now a full-scale operation, complete with a full bar, a modest dance floor, a decent sound system, and a restaurant. The menu is small, and, as is the case with many of the best Ethiopian places, the place has an intimate feel to it. There are three varieties of kitfo , that dish of beef tartare spiced with cardamom and mixed with homemade cottage cheese that is a kind of litmus test for eating Ethiopian; the varieties here are sure to test the American palate, being not so much spicy as intensely, unapologetically meaty. Among the vegetable-based stews, the gomen , a dish of chopped, seasoned kale, and the yellow-chick-pea kik alicha both suffer from undercooking, the latter being unusually soupy. Though it means being forced to opt for the seven- or nine-choice plate instead of the more manageable five-, you would do well to seek out the harissa-spiced chickpea stew (the legumes first mashed, then rolled into tiny dumplings) and the potato stew, each among the more fiery dishes on the menu. The injera , sold in large, flopping bags at the market next door, is not as sour as some, though it is agreeably light and-unusual for such absorbent, expansionist bread-unlikely to annex your insides an hour later..." >>more
The Washington Post
''... You don't get forks or knives; as is typical of Ethiopian dining, the food at Dukem is eaten with fingers and pieces of injera, the slightly sour crepe that also stands in for a plate. If you're a novice, be advised: No staff member I encountered at this corner dining room spoke much English, if any. But pointing and enlisting the help of native Ethiopian customers, who seem to treat this as a community center as much as a place to eat, can land you some pleasant memories to take back home. One signature is kitfo, a mound of raw ground beef blended with house-made cottage cheese, herbed butter and hot red pepper. Imagine steak tartare mixed with fire. You don't have to be a carnivore to eat well, though. Follow the lead of seemingly every other table and request the vegetable combination: Out comes a floppy round of injera, dolloped with a variety of earth-toned dishes, from chopped greens and yellow lentils to a tomato salad sparked with jalapenos. Afternoon soap operas and CNN on TV yield to live Ethiopian music onstage Thursday through Monday evenings ..." >>more
What's Wat? -
By Victor Tanner and Willet Weeks
Washington Is a Center for Ethiopian Cooking and Culture.
Here's How to Find the Area's Best Ethiopian Restaurants.
" ... Both Victor Tanner and Willet Weeks have spent many years in the Horn of Africa as relief workers and policy experts. They share an abiding addiction for the region's many cuisines.
Eleven o'clock on a weekday night at Dukem, the remarkable Ethiopian restaurant at the corner of 12th and U streets, Northwest.
The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. The kitchen won't close before 1 or 2 AM. The bar is crowded; most of the tables are taken. Waitresses in embroidered robes glide to and fro, balancing large trays piled high with food the color of marigolds and burnished copper.
Sit down, enjoy the beguiling aroma of spices. You are about to enjoy a unique dining experience, one that is both wonderfully exotic and quintessentially Washington.
Washington offers more good Ethiopian food than any other city in the world outside of Ethiopia itself. With its large Ethiopian community, the DC area boasts more Ethiopian restaurants than any other North American city and probably more than all of Western Europe combined.
The concentration of Ethiopian restaurants, grocery stores, and music outlets on the Adams Morgan stretch of 18th Street and along the U Street corridor in Shaw is something to behold. The unusual names-Meskerem, Awash, Dukem, Fasika's-along with the jagged Amharic characters that grace the storefronts make Adams Morgan more of a Little Ethiopia than DC's Chinatown is a Little China... >>more