29 Jun Saba’s Ethiopian Restaurant, Fitzroy
Owned by Saba Alemayoh and managed by the warm and bubbly Sebla Afewerk, Saba’s is a relatively new Ethiopian restaurant making name for itself in Fitzroy. It’s popular, and busy with locals and returning customers. Painted lanterns, colourful baskets and embroidered umbrellas set the mood in the casual dining area.
The injera at Saba’s is made from 100% teff flour (which you can also purchase), allowing them to serve a completely gluten free menu. Vegan options are also aplenty, due to the heavy use of legumes in Ethiopian cuisine.
We start with some hot drinks to ease the chill from outdoors. Both the black and white spiced tea are made from cardamom, chives and cinnamon. It has a similar fragrance to chai, and I personally prefer the white version, which has slight sweetness.
We pick three vegetarian and one meat dish. Eating here is a communal affair, and the baskets of food are shared with the table. First, a basket of injera arrives, with one laid flat, ready to be decorated with an array of our colourful selections. Our choices are then tipped from their bowls onto the warm flatbread, making it easy to mix and match, or just enjoy them individually. The soft and spongy injera is torn and used as utensils, and being slightly tangy from fermentation, it’s perfect for tempering the intensity of spices.
On the side is a little dish of berbere, a signature Ethiopian chilli mix of up to 20 different spices. Berbere is also found in the shiro, a sauce-like dish of milled chickpeas, garlic and ginger. There’s also the vibrant and zingy beetroot, which is the least spicy of the dishes we order. Of the vegetarian dishes, we particularly enjoy the Alicha Birsen – softened yellow split peas in turmeric-based paste. Dorho Sebhi is chicken slow-cooked on the bone and served with a hard-boiled egg. It’s made using dilik, a chilli paste that traditionally combines up to 50 spices and is an essential staple in Ethiopian households. The dorho sebhi is full on with the spices, which may not suit everyone, but the chicken drumsticks are amazingly juicy and delicious and I wouldn’t mind having a double portion to myself.
They’re set to open a sister restaurant on Nicholson St in the near future. Don’t be afraid to use your hands and partake in the fun.
Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of Saba’s Ethiopian Restaurant. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and are based on my experience at the time of the visit.
Saba’s Ethiopian Restaurant
328 Brunswick St
Fitzroy, VIC, 3065
(03) 8589 0442