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Thursday, 8 August 2013

Jambo Jambo


Whilst watching an episode of Simpsons (The Food Wife) on TV one night about food blogging I learnt the word "Gebeta".  An Ethiopian sharing dish with a large plate of bread and several side dishes placed on top of it. My curiosity had been raised, Ms Foodblogger was then made to watch the episode that night too.

I didn't really make much of it after that having thought no such restaurant existed in Sydney, but a few days later scrolling through the reels in Groupon I found an advert for a restaurant up in Crows Nest. Jambo Jambo, Swahili for "hello hello", the name was quintessentially African and I didn't hesitate in booking us a date for two for the following Thursday.



We arrived late as per usual, having got of the wrong ramp and circled the city a few times before arriving, to my defence it was the GPS's fault. Thirty minutes and a few profanities later we arrived.

Walking into the restaurant you feel the vibe of the place, its colourful and lively and bright. The walls are richly decorated with ornaments and artwork from the motherland. The walls are very bright and it takes a while to adjust the eyes to the vibrant colours. The decorations whilst plentiful are placed well to create a collage of the country.

We settled in and presented our Groupon voucher which entitled us to a mixed platter for entree and Gebata with three sides.


The mixed entree came out after about 20 minutes, by that point we were starving and slightly worried about our schedule as we had a movie booked for later that night.

The entree had a few components, Chapati or flatbread that was was cooked on a skillet with butter, this tasted very similar to its Indian counterpart, we weren't able distinguish the difference. Then the next piece was the Sambusa's, very similar to Samosas from Indian cuisine, they were filled with vegetables and meat.
Next on the list was Dry Salami Cacciatore, or italian salami cooked in olive oil, we also received pitted olives and and a honey dip.

The Chapati and salami went well together or a combination of the bread and honey. All together though mixed platter was a bit to small and the dishes did not seem very original or traditional. The Chapati and the Sambusa's tasted very similar to ones we've had at home that were bought frozen so it was disappointing start to the meal.



We then waited another thirty minutes for our mains, the restaurant was half empty so it was hard to imagine why it was delayed so long.
It finally arrived, and our hearts deflated again, because it was a meal for two and only three sides it wasn't presented as a large plate with curry on top as they show in the restaurant photo's but as above, several pieces of bread with curry on the side.

The Injera is the traditional bread , its fluffy, airy and  used to wrap around the curry and absorb the flavours. The taste slightly resembles a sourdough, but texture is more like sliced bread.
We ordered our three curry's one beef, one chicken and one lamb, they included 'Key Wot Beef' (hot), this is beef marinated in lemon and sauteed in special homemade spices. 'Doro Alicha', a chicken dish cooked with spicy butter, onions and ginger. Lastly 'Key Wot' Lamb stewed in berbere sauce, a combination of key spices used in many Ethiopian cuisines.

The whole set of dishes was a overload of lemon, the bread, the meats, they all tasted like lemon, there was no reprieve. To top it off we were given a side of lemons, I guess just in case there wasn't enough lemon for you. When you have a dish like lemon chicken, its designed to enhance the flavour of the chicken, with the above dishes, it overpowered it, its all you could taste. But there were a few diners in the restaurant who seemed to enjoy the food, so I guess everyones palate is different, but it definitely didn't suit mine.






The dessert served was a cannoli with pistachio, pretty average really , a sprinkling of nuts doesn't make a dessert. The side of ice cream was also just the same, it tasted kind of like home brand, no frills or expense, and no creaminess whatsoever.

The owner was walking around the shop later in the evening cooking coffee beans. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, over the years they have dedicated a ceremony for making coffee. The smell from the pan was aromatic, it smelt like no coffee I've smelt before. It was the first time that night I was salivating, it was intoxicating.

They made us wait again as was usual at Jambo Jambo but we didn't mind waiting for this. He came around and placed the boiling pot called the Jebena, on our table and served us in two small cups and mixed in raw sugar. It tasted incredible, I'm not usually a coffee drinker, but I'd turn into one if someone made this for me everyday, just amazing!

Overall we didn't have a pleasant evening or meal. We were made to wait for long periods, the entrees felt store bought and refried, and the main's were, I guess, unique, and dessert at the end was inline with the preceding.  

The coffee though livened up my mood that night, it left me feeling half decent as I walked out and with a sense that there maybe hope out there. I haven't given up hope of finding great African cuisine, this setback only means I have to look harder.

If in the area I strongly recommend the coffee, which comes along with its own show and dance!


Happy Eating


S & S



Website: www.jamboafricanrestaurant.com/
Phone: 9439 3277



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Jambo Jambo African Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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