Monday, June 18

Mudai Ethiopian Restaurant - San Jose

What did I want from Phil for my birthday this year? I quote myself, "A 1 hour massage and to have dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant." Well the massage didn't happen, I got a good dose of studying for my final instead. But we did have Ethiopian food for the first time.

Mudai was another great Yelp find. There were 2 highly rated Ethiopian restaurants in San Jose and we went with Mudai because there was a coupon. Value of $15 for an order total of $22 or more. Yes, my man, he likes to go all out on special occasions. I kidd I kidd. If there's a deal, why pay more when you can pay less?

Mudai is situated on the outskirts of downtown San Jose so parking was easy to find and there was no traffic around the area. 

When we came in, there were ony 2 other parties dining. A slow trickle of diners arrived b the end of our meal. For a Wednesday night, it seems they get a steady pace of business. The ambience and decor reminded me of a Vietnamese pho restaurant. Not exactly high class but clean and well kept looking nonetheless.

($3.25) Ethiopian beer. I expected something heavy and dark like IPA but this was very light. Closer to a Sapporo or Asahi than anything. We both liked it.

($12.63) Vegetarian combo. Counter clockwise from top: salad, alicha atkilt (simmered cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and onions), miser kik (split red lentils simmered in red hot pepper sauce), gomen (chopped collard greens), ater kik (split chickpeas in mild sauce). Our favorites were the split peas and the red lentils. The red lentils were extremely spicy but it hurt in a good way. The split peas were mealy and sweet, like mashed potatoes in a way. A special shout out to the third runner up, the sweet yellow potatoes in the alicha atkilt.

($11.78) Lamb tibs: tender chopped lean lamb cooked in a spicy cayenne sauce. This was really super good. The seasoning was spicy and flavorful. There was still residual gamey lamb after taste which I usually hate but I didn't mind it with all the sauce. The lamb was the spiciest thing we had on this platter.

All the items ordered were served on top of a sheet of enjera bread. The enjera was fluffy and porous, shaped like a pancake. It quickly absorbs all the flavors from each item. We are also given an extra sheet of enjera to dip and wrap the food in. It tastes like sourdough bread. At first, I ate the enjera alone and really hated it because I really hate sourdough. Have I mentioned that before in the blog? I really HATE sourdough bread. So after the first bite of plain enjera, I was about to write this dinner off as a failed experiment in culinary exploration. But I put some of the lamb tibs in a piece of enjera and loved it. I do wish the bread was not as sour but I also see why each food item was strongly spiced and flavored. The bread and food compliment each other very well.

I recommend Mudai for the adventurous eater. Must be able to tolerate spice. Even the mild is pretty spicy and there is rarely a menu item that is not spicy. Definitely try the Ethiopian beer with your food, it cuts right through the spice. Mudai was very clean and quaint, an unassuming no frills eatery on a corner street. I would definitely give Mudai and Ethiopian food in general another try. They mostly have lamb but I think the beef would be tasty too.

Mudai on Yelp

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