Foodie on the Half Shell: Happy birthday! Here’s some Shiro Wot.

By: Olivia Beals

On a Monday night on Baum Boulevard, the streets are quiet. Not much is going on, and maybe you’re hungry but not sure what to do about the issue. Well, look over to that blue and silver sign. Tana, it reads. The windows are glowing with a welcoming light and red spots of empty napkins are sitting atop the many tables inside. What does it all mean? I was wondering the same thing this week as I was guided blindly into the building.

My birthday was last weekend, and I enjoy special treatment and attention maybe more than the average soul. I love surprises and acts of kindness. My boyfriend was in charge of the day’s festivities, and I will tell you—that man can deliver. He knows my love for adventurous food, and he knows that it is such a big part of my life. I knew he had a special surprise for our dinner plans, and I was so excited when I discovered we had arrived at an Ethiopian restaurant. Some of the most interesting and spice filled goodies I have ever eaten! I knew as soon as I walked in, good or bad, I must write about my experience.

The restaurant is clean and quiet. I was concerned that we would be the only ones in the entire restaurant, but I was pleased to see three other couples dining out. If you have any kind of business on a Monday night, especially with international cuisine, then you’re probably in the green. The menu is small, but straight-forward.

They have an array of appetizers and lentil soups that looked extremely tasty, and they also have entrees and sample meals. I went for the sample meal. You can pick five of the entrees, vegetarian, or meat, and it will all come out on top of this fantastic spongy flat bread. The idea is to eat with your hands by scooping up the different sauces and lentils with the bread. As I said, the bread is nice and spongy, so that it does not get soggy with all of the juices of the wat (stew).

We ordered off of the vegetarian menu and ate some lentils, peas, collard greens, and ground chickpeas. We were a fan of almost all of them. My favorite was the Ye ater Kik Alicha, which was a mix of split peas and onion. It was so fragrant and soft. My boyfriend’s favorite was Shiro Wot, which was a stew of ground chick peas and spices.

They leave their spices a little vague, so I have been looking for answers to what they are. Mostly I have only found chili pepper and ginger. I know there is more to it, though. The taste is so complex and special. None of their dishes taste similar, so you have a nice diversity of tastes in front of you. To top it all off, this menu is so healthy. It has your veggies, protein, and meats. It’s so low in fat and just so wholesome. You really can’t go wrong when it comes to their entrees.

I recommend Tana to anyone for lunch or dinner. The service is nice, and they always keep your drinks full. They also have a liquor license with a full bar. I was really impressed with their stock. Come ready to dig in with your hands (no acrylics allowed), and to get a mouthful of zingy spices. International food is fun and broadens your taste. It also can lead you into new ideas for healthier and exciting cooking. Check it out! I can guarantee a great meal and an experience we all should take a bite of.