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Baby-mooning in Vegas: Merkato, our first Ethiopian experience

One of our good friends, Dave, lives in Vegas and we used this opportunity to meet up with him and his lady friend for lunch since we don’t get to see him much.  He is a Vegas native so we let him choose the place to lunch at; he picked an Ethiopian off the Strip.  Neither Husband nor I have had Ethiopian but I was curious to try it based on what I knew.  Husband, on the other hand, was a little wary and I was somewhat concerned he would not be able to find something to eat…

Starting off...

Ethiopian food is a bit different; instead of using utensils and plates, a spongy, slightly sour bread called injera is used. Vegetarian and meat dishes are served family style on top of the injera and extra injera is served on the side.  You tear off pieces and use it to scoop up the food.  A goat-like cheese very much like feta called lab and a simple green salad with tomato are served on the main injera.

Raw beef (left), YeDoro Wot (right)

I opted for the YeDoro Wot ($8.50), a common Ethiopian dish consisting of chicken cooked in butter, sauteed onions, garlic, ginger, pepper, herbs and a boiled egg.  This was quite good and had a spicy kick to it, not lip-numbing but pleasant and comfortable.

Dave, being the adventurous guy that he is, ordered a raw beef dish which I don’t recall the name off.  I guess the waitress, who spoke very little English, was a little taken aback by Dave’s order; the chef came out to verify that he did, indeed, want raw beef. Cubed beef marinated with garlic and other spices, this was delicious. The texture was a little chewy but overall, this was something I enjoyed.  It was even more delicious with some of the YeDoro Wot sauce on it.

Sizzle sizzle

Husband managed to find something on the menu to entice him – Merkato Zil Zil Tibs ($9.50), a mixture of lamb and beef marinated in awaze sauce (a mild Ethiopian red pepper paste), garlic, onions and cooked in butter.  This plate came out sizzling on a platter like fajitas and the aroma was heavenly. The nice thing for him was he could pick around the onions…

The great thing about eating off injera is at the end of the meal, all the juices and sauces have soaked into the bread and you can tear off pieces and savor the flavors.

In the end, Husband and I were very happy with this first Ethiopian meal of ours and are talking about trying some of the Ethiopian restaurants here in LA soon.  Thanks Dave!

I give this meal 4 1/2 NOMs.

Merkato Ethiopian Cae
855 E. Twain
Las Vegas, NV 89169
(702) 796-1231

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