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#1
Posted January 27th 2006, 10:32am
LTH,

Had the pleasure of meeting Zim, Mrs. Zim and the newest addition to their family for lunch. Our plan was to meet at Paradise, a 2-month old Middle Eastern restaurant, which Zim had spotted. I arrived a few minutes early only to find the doors locked, they open at 5pm during the week. I saw activity in the restaurant, knocked, and asked for a take out menu. Ok, my real reason was the 4-cups of coffee I drank was making me wish Paradise, and their bathroom, were open for business. :)

The fellow gave me a menu and kindly let me use the bathroom. The restaurant was dark, but just a glance and it was obvious this was no ordinary interior. Every space, and I do mean every available space, was ornately covered, everything from the owners original artwork to statues, mosaics, drapes, waterfalls, flowers, flags, fishtank, lamps, lights, ranging from over-the-top cheesy to tasteful.

All four of us were simply amazed, flabbergasted, even baby Zim, at just a few months old, appeared bemused.

Paradise
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We may have been turned away from Paradise, but there's certainly no shortage of good choices for lunch in the immediate area. We kicked around a few options and settled on Ethiopian Diamond. Neither Zim or I had been there in a long time and, as Mrs Zim is a vegetarian, it worked well. Frankly, I had somewhat low expectations remembering glacial slow service, albeit pretty good food, though when we entered the large, well laid out, bright, spotlessly clean restaurant I realized I had been thinking of a different Ethiopian place.

Lunch was really quite good, starting with Sambusa's.
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Mrs. Zim's Veggie combo, including tasty fresh cheese, spinach and lentils was terrific, and our Doro Watt, with it's hard cooked egg, quite flavorful,
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but the star of the show was Kitfo and Garlic. We were asked as to spice level and how wanted our Kitfo cooked, med, med-rare or rare. We said spicy and very rare, which translated to raw. Perfect.

Kitfo and Garlic (spicy/very rare/raw)
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Injera, spongy with a hint of sour, was the perfect foil, service pleasant, interactive and timely, though table conversation, especially with young Mr. Zim, was the best part of the meal.

Zim and son. (Zim in black shirt)
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We also had the pleasure of meeting Mitch Covic from the Urban Life Center, who, along with Dan Charles, had a group of 25 students at Ethiopian Diamond for lunch. Dan had lived in Ethiopia and was walking the group through the various dishes and customs.

To top off our interesting afternoon we stopped at Kukuls, a small, but nicely stocked Ethiopian shop directly across the street from Ethiopian Diamond. In addition to spices, teff flour, which mixed with Aunt Jemima self-rising flour, are the necessary ingredients for injera (at least among Ethiopians in Chicago), Kukuls had a selection of teas, spices, grains and even frozen spiced butter, BeriBeri and CD's.

Kukuls
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Perhaps most interestingly were the 4-5 types of freshly made injera, all from different makers. It seems that people develop very specific preferences for the subtle differences between makers and are quite loyal.

Injera at Kukuls
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The injera are marked with the makers names.
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Kukuls Tea Spice
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An interesting, and delicious, afternoon with the Zim family.

Enjoy,
Gary

Paradise
5848 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60660
773-275-6372

Ethiopian Diamond
6120 N Broadway
Chicago, IL
773-338-6100

Kukuls
6129 N Broadway
Chicago, IL
773-262-3169
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#2
Posted January 27th 2006, 12:13pm
Gary,

thanks for writing up our meal, I've been a little preoccupied as of late and hadn't had a chance too.

Paradise really must be seen. It's sort of a persian psychadelic grotto. there's even a car underneath one of the curtains. Apparently they also have belly dancing on weekend evenings, but even without it, there's more than enough eye candy to titillate the senses.

I too, was pretty pleasantly surprised by the meal at ethiopian diamond, for whatever reason I had not had ethiopian food in chicago for a long long time, and the meal was very satisfying. Not only the kitfo with the excellent chili powder, but also the red lentils and collards that were part of my wife's veggie combo entree.

On friday nights apparently Phil Cohran plays live there. If you've never heard his CD "On the Beach" you should - here's a link to a record store that has clips from the CD online (once at the store you'll have to search for cohran) -http://aquariusrecords.org

Kikulu across the street was really a fun place to browse. Having gotten into a conversation with the owners about music, they were happy to play us some of latest ethiopian hits (though my own preference is for 70's era mulatu astatke and mahmoud ahmed stuff which they don't carry) . I also thought it would be interesting to try each of the different injera makers' offerings and see the subtle differences. Recently in another thread there was talk of the spiced butter used to prepare ethiopian food - in discussion with the folks at kikulu it turned out that this clarified butter is spiced with fenugreek seeds and lovage seeds (in hindi, by which i know these spices primarily that would be methi and ajwain) in fact many of the spice mixes would be instantly recognizable to indians - for example the tea mixture shown above contained many of the spices used for chai, cinnamon, clove and green cardamom.

Anyway, a pretty fun afternoon with Gwiv's company and learning quite a bit more about ethiopian food and culture from the folks at kikulu and the urban life center.
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#3
Posted January 27th 2006, 1:43pm
The Ethiopian meal looks fantastic(seriously, I'm drooling...suddenly that day old pork chop-destined for lunch-in the fridge ain't lookin' so hot), but what's even neater is seeing my favorite record store on Earth linked from LTHforum. :)

also, try this:

http://philcohran.com/
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#4
Posted July 4th 2006, 11:01pm
G Wiv wrote:Our plan was to meet at Paradise, a 2-month old Middle Eastern restaurant, which Zim had spotted.
...
All four of us were simply amazed, flabbergasted, even baby Zim, at just a few months old, appeared bemused.


I happened to go to Paradise last night after we found La Fonda closed. It truly is astonishing inside -- Gary's picture gives a hint, but it's weirder still. And to push it into yet another realm of the bizarre, the whole time we were eating they were playing George Winston's "December". Particularly odd when "Carol of the Bells" came on!

The food was OK. The pita was excellent, thick, and served warmed. The hummus was unusually thick, but decently garlicky and lemony. The falafel was a bit too well-done. The combination platter (joujeh (chicken), koobideh (ground beef) and shish kabob (beef)) was a bit dry, which probably was to be expected considering there weren't too many people around. The Lahmajoon ("middle eastern pizza") was quite good. Two pretty large cracker-thin pieces of crust with a ground beef concoction spread over it. I should say, it was pretty good while it was hot, but it was only OK after it cooled down. Best to share it with a bigger group, I think, or to eat it first.

For those who are so inclined, they also have nargila (hookahs) with eight "flavors", but we did not partake.

Also, I don't know if this is unusual, but it's the first time I've seen Azeri cuisine called out on a menu. There's an Azerian vegetarian combo ("eggplant, onion, garlic, bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, potato served with rice") and Azerian breakfast ("eggs, olive, tomato, cheese"). (Breakfast is served Saturday and Sunday starting at 10 am.)

There's a good chance some of the other things on the menu are Azeri too but I don't know enough to call them out.
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#5
Posted July 7th 2006, 8:31am
Peter Margasak wrote:Paradise in an Auto Garage

THE SIGN OUT front reads “Paradise: Authentic Persian Cuisine,” and his renditions of simple Persian and Turkish favorites like dolmeh and stuffed peppers are excellent—but Samad Ahmadi insists his business isn’t really a restaurant. “It’s a gallery,” he says. “Selling food supports me so I can show the next person.”


Apparently the space was formerly the garage where the owner did auto maintenance, but as he became physically unable to keep doing that work, he also became a visual artist.

Read the whole story here.

(PS What the heck is the address of this place anyway? Gary lists one, the Reader another, Google Maps a third, and Yelp a fourth. It's more like the 5800 block of Broadway than 5548 where the Reader puts it. You can't miss it -- just look for the life-size italian waiter figurine out front with a pile of delivery menus on his tray.)
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#6
Posted July 7th 2006, 1:42pm
germuska wrote:(PS What the heck is the address of this place anyway? Gary lists one, the Reader another, Google Maps a third, and Yelp a fourth.


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#7
Posted July 25th 2006, 8:42pm
I was so glad to find this post about Ethiopian Diamond. I live in Lakeview, so I've always frequented the Ethiopian places on Clark closer to Belmont (in other words, Mama Desta's and the like...though I think most of "the like" have slowly disappeared in recent years). But my aunt was in town last month, and specifically asked for Ethiopian (she lived in Gonder for 4 years), so I thought I'd check the boards to see what restaurants every was enjoying these days.

(BTW, my aunt got a charge out of what I call "food porn," i.e., the pictures that people have posted.)

We went to Ethiopian Diamond and had a great meal. The restaurant is larger than any Ethiopian restaurant in Chicago that I can recall (and it was very crowded on a Monday night), and a bit more upscale. The menu is huge, and included a few things I hadn't seen before (which, my aunt confirmed, were dishes that are less-commonly found on most US Ethiopian restaurant menus...I apologize that I can't remember any specifics). Everything we had was fresh and delicious.

As an added bonus, discovered that almost the entire staff is from Gonder (where my aunt lived). The service we received was excellent (this despite the fact that a party of about 40 arrived while we were eating). I'm not sure if everyone always gets such great service, or if it helps to greet your waiter in Amharic.

I've told my friends that we have to start heading to Ethiopian Diamond...it's my new favorite Ethiopian place!
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#8
Posted July 26th 2006, 8:48am
chgoeditor wrote:I'm not sure if everyone always gets such great service, or if it helps to greet your waiter in Amharic.


I don't speak any Amharic, but we've always had extremely friendly (albeit sometimes relaxed) service at E.D. I've been going for years, and have frequently led groups of 15-20 people, so we have a friendly relationship with the staff. (It's an excellent place for large groups; even on an impromptu basis they can often absorb double-digit parties, although business has been booming roughly since they were on Check Please, and now I usually call ahead if we have a group that size.)

Although I started eating Ethiopian at Mama Desta's, I have since become uniformly disenchanted with the Lakeview Ethiopian scene, no doubt in part because of the consistently good results we have at E.D. I have had some good food at Ras Dashen down the street. My conclusion so far is that the things I like most at Ras Dashen are not even on Ethiopian Diamond's menu, like one brilliant grilled beef chunk dish whose name eludes me.

Ras Dashen
5846 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL
(773) 506-9601


We happened to eat at Ethiopian Diamond this Monday, and we literally cleared the platter down to the last scrap of injera. It's hard to stop!

My can't miss dish for years has been the doro tibs (chunks of chicken with peppers and onions), although we've recently been enjoying the assa tibs (lightly breaded tilapia filet with same peppers and onions).
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#9
Posted August 3rd 2006, 9:15am
So, I happened to be back at Ethiopian Diamond last night. The proprietors were collecting email addresses from long-time customers and friends to send invitations to a soon-coming tenth-anniversary party.

I am not entirely sure it would be appropriate to post the details here, but if you're an ED fan, send me a PM and I'll fill you in, or stop by there yourself and congratulate them and give them your email address.
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#10
Posted August 3rd 2006, 4:19pm
I love Ethiopian Diamond. I've never had a bad meal there. Trouble is, I always seem to miss it! The last time I was out there, we ended up at another Ethopian place within the 2 block range, on the West side of the street... I cannot remember the name for the life of me. It was also fantastic! :) Near Moody's pub, though, so in the 5900 block... metromix gives me no clues to the name. Anyone?
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#11
Posted August 3rd 2006, 4:25pm
jonjonjon wrote:I love Ethiopian Diamond. I've never had a bad meal there. Trouble is, I always seem to miss it! The last time I was out there, we ended up at another Ethopian place within the 2 block range, on the West side of the street... I cannot remember the name for the life of me. It was also fantastic! :) Near Moody's pub, though, so in the 5900 block... metromix gives me no clues to the name. Anyone?


Ras Dashen, mentioned above.
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#12
Posted August 3rd 2006, 4:30pm
kl5 wrote:Ras Dashen, mentioned above.


indeed, that name rings a bell! thanks! 8)
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#13
Posted August 18th 2007, 11:30am
I'd like to nominate Ethiopian Diamond as an exemplar of all things we look for in a great neighborhood restaurant. While Chicago is fortunate to have a few high quality Ethiopian Restaurants, my friends and I have continued to patronize the Diamond over any challenger in groups from four to 24. Inevitably, we eat until the silver platter shines through, stripped of injera.

I was a little afraid that it hasn't gotten enough discussion on the board, but searching indicates that it comes up in numerous asides or quick-hit posts [1], [2], [3]. [4] which are complementary, if not very detailed.

In a thread about a different restaurant, AnnieB commented on ED at greater length, and Foodie1 started a thread looking for other restaurants to maintain the inspiration from a first meal at the Diamond

Of course, there's the most focused-on-ED thread, Ethiopian Diamond, but first Paradise, which provides some good photographic documentation.

Reviewing these, I believe that LTH may already have the love in its collective heart to dub Ethiopian Diamond a Great Neighborhood Restaurant, but if anyone needs persuading, I'm available for dinner there on short notice.
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Joe G.

"Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
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#14
Posted August 19th 2007, 7:22am
Seconded!

There are so many details about Ethiopian Diamond--the high ceilings, the large windows, the congenial service, the live music, the frosty beer glasses, the colorful paintings--that make it such an inviting place to visit. As Germuska states in his nominating post, they can accommodate an intimate group or a large boisterous party with great facility.

The food is consistently good. I am particularly fond of the sambusas and the various spicy watt preparations: doro (chicken), assa (fish), and yemisir (lentils).

As resident of Edgewater, ED is certainly one of the spots that makes me love my neighborhood and therefore a deserving recipient of the GNR award.
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#15
Posted September 7th 2007, 10:52am
LTH,

Germuska's nomination of Ethiopian Diamond for a GNR prompted a dinner last evening, and an enjoyable meal it was.

8 adults and 2 little G's were treated to a Germuska orchestrated sampling ranging from the familiar, Sambusa (samosas), to the not so familiar, Kitfo (Ethiopian steak tartar), all tied deliciously together by slightly tart injera, which is a fermented bread.

Josephine with Injera
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Three types of Sambusa
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We had two generous Taste of Ethiopia platters served in traditional fashion on injera.

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In particular I liked Gomen (chopped collard greens w/sauce, onions and garlic) and Kitfo and Garlic (minced beef with garlic, seasoned butter and ground red pepper). With kitfo one has the option of rare, medium or well done, we opted for rare, which, in this case, was uncooked.

Owner-Manager Almaz Yigizaw was nice enough to give a lesson in making injera. I also have a short video which Steve Z is kindly editing, I will post a YouTube link in short order. I you would like to see the picture sequence, or additional pictures of our dinner, please click ->here

Almaz Yigizaw Owner-Manager
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I heartily endorse Ethiopian Diamond for a GNR as does Mike G's son Myles.

Myles gives a Thumbs Up to Ethiopian Diamond
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Enjoy,
Gary
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Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

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#16
Posted September 7th 2007, 11:31am
tapler wrote:Seconded!

Third.

I just posted about a very enjoyable dinner Germuska set up, see events board, in the Ethiopian Diamond thread

Enjoy,
Gary
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Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

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#17
Posted September 7th 2007, 12:22pm
Thanks, germuska, for organizing this dinner and for educating me on the connections between Rastafarianism and Ethiopia. You ordered a delicious assortment of Ethiopian specialties. I especially enjoyed the gingered yellow lentils, the collards, and the spicy lamb. I was surprised to see the restaurant so full on a weeknight, but the staff seemed to have no trouble handling our large group and a couple of others with ease. The atmosphere was very pleasant, I thought. The large, softly lighted paintings of Ethiopian scenes, white tablecloths, comfortable chairs, and a low noise level created a relaxing vibe for either a couple or a group. It's good to know that even if you are dining with two people, you can select a sampling of the dishes by ordering a combo platter. Of course, everything is more fun with LTH-ers!
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#18
Posted September 7th 2007, 12:29pm
My props to Joe as well. It's becoming such a cliché, but the company was the best part - which is not to denigrate the great food.
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#19
Posted September 7th 2007, 12:48pm
Given my lack of extensive experience with Ethiopian in general, and Ethiopian Diamond specifically, please take this as raising a question rather than an objection.

I think Ethiopian Diamond is clearly a GNR type place, but my one reservation is that I'm not convinced it's even the best Ethiopian place on its block (well, not precisely, but close enough). I've hit Ethiopian Diamond on three or four occasions and Ras Dashen twice, and enjoyed Ras Dashen significantly more. The flavors were more vibrant, fresher, more intense... Ethiopian Diamond, while very good, struck me as just a little flat after my meals at Ras Dashen. My brother and sister in law, the frequent Ethiopian diners who invited me on each of these occasions, agreed that they think Ras Dashen is a better restaurant but that it's sometimes difficult to get a table, so Ethiopian Diamond is their fallback restaurant when the wait's a little gnarly over at Ras Dashen.

Again, this is far outside my realm of expertise, and it's a small sample I'm talking about, but I'm curious to hear if we're the only ones who feel this way. And I realize that nobody's nominated Ras Dashen, but it would seem odd to me to give a GNR to Ethiopian Diamond if there is, indeed, a more worthy Ethiopian place just a few doors down, so I figured this was a question worth asking.
Last edited by Dmnkly on September 17th 2007, 11:28am, edited 2 times in total.
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#20
Posted September 7th 2007, 1:06pm
Dmnkly wrote:it would seem odd to me to give a GNR to Ethiopian Diamond if there is, indeed, a more worthy Ethiopian place just a few doors down, so I figured this was a question worth asking.

I think that Ras Dashen and ED are approximately as close to each other as Sticky Rice and Spoon.
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Joe G.

"Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
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#21
Posted September 7th 2007, 1:11pm
germuska wrote:
Dmnkly wrote:it would seem odd to me to give a GNR to Ethiopian Diamond if there is, indeed, a more worthy Ethiopian place just a few doors down, so I figured this was a question worth asking.

I think that Ras Dashen and ED are approximately as close to each other as Sticky Rice and Spoon.


Touche!

:-D
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#22
Posted September 7th 2007, 2:21pm
African food remains a dark continent to me, I just don't have it often enough to have a concrete opinion about what's good or bad, but I certainly enjoyed last night's meal and can comfortably call it the best African food I've had. (Whether it's the best Ethiopian in that stretch, I don't know, set up a dinner at Ras Dashen and we can see.)

Samooses were okay but a little tray-of-filo-dough-pastries-at-a-partyish. Injera was much better than the foam rubber I had at Shan off their smallish African menu. Lamb was robust, brown lentils spicy and addictive, collard greens tart and delicious, tilapia in brown curry surprisingly hearty. Chicken stir fry seemed to have come from the Lite Choices™ menu at Denny's.

African beer is on the sweet side, I stopped at one. Service was very friendly, LTHers a pleasure as always. Thank you Joe for setting this up!
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#23
Posted September 7th 2007, 2:44pm
Food was very good, but is anyone else bothered that ED brings to mind a little blue pill?
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#24
Posted September 7th 2007, 2:47pm
nr706 wrote:Food was very good, but is anyone else bothered that ED brings to mind a little blue pill?


You think I spelled out the full name of the place six times in my post because I really like typing? :-)
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#25
Posted September 7th 2007, 4:29pm
I had a great time at dinner last night, evidenced, for example, by the fact that we stayed for at least an hour after we paid the check just gabbing.

I actually thought that a couple of my favorites were off their top yesterday: the doro tibs and zilzil tibs both seemed kind of dry. I usually swear by the doro tibs. I also prefer my kik alitcha (chick peas) ground a little more smoothly.

On the other hand, the kitfo was awesome, and that's a dish I haven't ordered frequently in the past. To clarify, I'm pretty sure we didn't explicitly order "kitfo with garlic" but just "kitfo" (both are on the menu, plus kitfo na gomen which has cheese and greens mixed in the blob of beef).

I also quite enjoyed the assa (tilapia) watt, especially the watt sauce.

And Mike G, I've actually flirted with the idea of an Ethiopian series in the past, and would be happy to repeat at Ras Dashen, and/or other places folks want to try.

And I do plan to restore the African Harambee dinner to the events menu in the next month or so, but they have relatively few Ethiopian dishes on the menu. Still might be interesting in context.
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"Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
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#26
Posted September 7th 2007, 10:07pm
Link to a 2-minute video I took of Almaz Yigizaw, owner-manager of Ethiopian Diamond, making injera.

Thanks Steve Z for the technical assistance.
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Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

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#27
Posted September 17th 2007, 10:32am
"it would seem odd to me to give a GNR to Ethiopian Diamond if there is, indeed, a more worthy Ethiopian place just a few doors down, so I figured this was a question worth asking."

For what it's worth, I share Dmnkly's worry.

After sampling all the Ethiopian restaurants we could track down on the north side, Ras Dashen became our regular spot. We've tried new places as they open up (Sheba Cafe, Blue Nile) but Ras Dashen remains our go to.

Maybe 6 months to a year ago, given the praise Ethiopian Diamond was getting on this board, I insisted we go back and give it another shot. Our meal certainly wasn't bad, but we left wondering what all the fuss was about. Doro alicha didn't have as much complexity of flavor, yegbeg tibs left me wanting, kik alicha and misser wat were pretty good not great, etc. Plus Ras Dashen spoils me with their superior beer list.
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#28
Posted September 17th 2007, 11:07am
I hate to follow a negative with a negative, but I have to weigh in on this on. I'm really not a fan of Ethiopian Diamond. It's ok, but I've definitely has better Ethiopian food both in and out of Chicago. Addis Abbaba at its old Clark St location was far superior IMHO.

Also, I've found the service at Ethiopian Diamon to range from indifferent to rude. The classic story I tell people is about how I was once there with a large party, probably around 15 of us. We finished our dinner and paid the check in cash which included a tip of about 25%. The waiter counted the money and then told us that gratuity was not included in the total on our check. Well either this guy lacked basic counting skills or he had some pretty unrealistic expectations regarding gratuities. Some people at the table were pretty offended by this.

Whatever, I haven't felt a need to go back.
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#29
Posted September 20th 2007, 8:42pm
Paradise has closed.
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#30
Posted September 20th 2007, 8:49pm
Mike G wrote:Paradise has closed.


That's the saddest thing I have ever read...oh, you mean the restaurant. :wink:
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