Neighbourhood: West End
Address: 533 Sargent Ave
Sourdough flatbread made with teff flour is the back-bone of nearly every Ethiopian dish, acting as the canvas for colourful wots (stews) and buttery tibs (sautéed meats) at West End eatery Gojo. While forks and knives are available, owner Solomon Meshesha cheerily demonstrates the traditional way to dig in, ripping off pieces of this injera bread and using it to scoop up the aromatic mixes.
A tiny pitcher of vibrant emerald sauce brought to the table immediately entices. Its heat is intense but well matched with vinegar, garlic and tons of fresh cilantro. Pour it sparingly over everything for a wonderful flavour osmosis.
Ordering the veggie combo is a must. Nutrient dense lentils, split peas and chickpeas are curried into a paste-like consistency perfect for mixing with mouthfuls of tender lamb tibs sautéed with green pepper in a spiced butter. Kitfo (lean minced beef) can be prepared raw like tartare, or lightly cooked to resemble a deconstructed hamburger patty. It’s seasoned with blazing mitmita and served with tangy house-made ayibe, a drier cottage cheese that cools off the warming sensation.
Ethiopia’s national dish, doro wat, a memorable and richly flavoured chicken stew heavily spiced with fiery berbere, is deliciously hot without overpowering taste buds. A hard-boiled egg bobbing within turns out to be a stellar companion to the scorching sauce.
Although it’s clear that Ethiopians love spice, milder options like alecha wat satisfy the spice adverse without compromising taste. Tender nubs of beef bathe in bright turmeric, garlic and onion. Mellow gomen be spiga blends kale with melt-in-the-mouth chunks of beef, Gojo’s special spices and sneaky jalapeño, adding minor heat. Cool off with a bottle of icy St. George lager, the perfect brew to wash it all down.
Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant is open Tue-Sun 10 am-9 pm.