As part of my 2013/2014 “Good Food Under $30” challenge, K and I dined at Jambo Jambo African Restaurant, courtesy of a Daily Deal voucher I managed to pick up off Groupon. This voucher entitled us to a three-course Ethiopian feast with drinks for two people for the super reasonable price of $39. Armed with voucher in hand, off we went to Jambo Jambo, located in a nondescript little shopping centre underneath IGA on Willoughby Road.
The interior of the restaurant is decorated with gorgeous paintings, artifacts, and posters, all with a strong African theme by the charming, chatty, and very customer-facing owner and chef, Joseph. It’s very cosy, and very much a small business fueled by love and an individual’s passion for the food of his country.
Unlike other experiences using Daily Deal vouchers where we’ve been treated as second-class diners, we are greeted with big smiles and shown to our reserved table. Our waitress explained how our voucher worked, where we got to choose a range of mains to try, with a set entree and dessert.
The sambusa was really lovely, and was surprisingly vegetarian with a lentil filling rather than meat-based. It was definitely not what I was expecting, but delicious anyway. The honey dip for the chapati was also a winner.
We chose a range of mains as part of our combination platter:
- Kik Wot (Split peas stewed with onion, garlic and a blend of mild Ethiopian herbs): very simple and plain, but with a good subtle flavour base
- Key Wot (Tender and flavourful lamb stew cooked in berbere sauce spices): I thought the sauce would be a bit thicker, but it was still packed with really rich herbs and spices
- Goden Tibs (Grilled beef ribs seasoned with onion, black pepper, green peppers and rosemary): there wasn’t much meat on these ribs, but what was there was marinated to perfection. It’s more of a tough meat though, so don’t expect tender meat!
We also got an additional spicy tomato-based dipping sauce for the plentiful injera (Ethiopian bread) that came with the platter. I really enjoyed injera on the previous occasions that I’ve tried it before – it’s a thick spongy-type pancake, not dissimilar to an oversized crepe. It’s very plain, but works well in soaking off the delicious spicy herb sauces of the mains.
I have to say – this dessert surprised me. A very doughy cheesecake isn’t the type of food that I would automatically associate with African cuisine, though that may say more about my own prejudiced ethnocentrism than anything else.
Overall, I rate Jambo Jambo a 7.5 out of 10 – the food was reasonable though had we not had a voucher, we probably wouldn’t have gone. It’s just a bit pricey for what you get, though I guess you can’t put a price on authenticity and hospitality!
On a final note, the restaurant also heavily promotes the admirable Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia organisation, which funds a hospital in Addis Ababa which operates on poor Ethiopian women who suffer from obstetric fistula. I encourage everyone to visit their website, and consider supporting their cause.