Ethiopian food is typically considered one of the more obscure global cuisines. Not many people know about and are able to relish the country’s cuisine. There are many Ethiopian restaurants near Berkeley, but these are mainly in Oakland. Luckily for students in Berkeley, there is an Ethiopian restaurant just a few blocks away from campus that has been lauded for its traditional, fresh and delicious dishes.
Named Finfine after the source of the purest spring water in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, the restaurant is located on Telegraph Avenue inside the Village Mall. Typically, Ethiopian food is served on a platter that is meant to be shared. Meals are well balanced, consisting of some meat and vegetable dishes and bread, usually injera (a sourdough pancake-like bread made from teff flour). The dishes are typically eaten by hand, using the injera to scoop the food, and are a great reflection of the products of Ethiopia’s varying climates and atmospheres.
The ambience of the restaurant is comfortable, cozy and has a family atmosphere. It is quiet and, although small, has enough seating to fit a group of you and your friends. The staff is very friendly and more than willing to help you sort through and understand the menu.
Finfine’s menu is based off traditional homemade recipes that have been passed from generation to generation and is quite expansive. For meat lovers, the most popular dishes seem to be the ye-beg tibs — lamb sauteed in a blend of spices, onions, garlic, ginger and spiced butter — which comes accompanied with the veggie of the day. The bozena shiro was also in high demand, made from ground chickpeas simmered in a blend of sauce made from dried ground chili along with ground beef and spiced butter. All of the entree dishes come with injera as well as salad.
One of the biggest criticisms of Ethiopian food is that the cuisine lacks adequate options to choose from. While this seems somewhat true on Finfine’s menu, the owners have adapted the recipes to ensure that the menu has filling and delicious options for those who prefer vegetarian meals. The restaurant’s vegetarian combination, or ye tsom beyaynetu, is a platter that consists of injera as well as split pea stew, lentil salad, spicy split red lentil stew, fresh collard greens, a blend of potato and carrots and ground chickpeas.
East African cuisine, although not as well known around the globe as Italian or Indian cuisine, is equally as delicious. Ethiopian food in particular consists of a melange of spices and flavors that you are unlikely to find in another nation’s food. So if you’re looking for an opportunity to try a new cuisine, Finfine should be at the top of your list. It’s a relaxed restaurant where you can enjoy culturally authentic and delicious food.
Contact Spandana Singh at [email protected].