It’s About 8,300 Miles From the Metro to Addis Ababa, depending on the length of the drive to Will Rogers. From here to Nairobi, tack on another 400 or so. That’s a long, long trip for takeout (the samosas will probably get cold). Here’s a better idea: to get your fill of seriously great Ethiopian and Kenyan cuisine, try a new and different flavor family, avail yourself of a wealth of vegetarian-friendly tastes and eat globally and locally at the same time, seek out the marvelous taste in a little space called Haiget’s in Edmond.
If your first question is what makes up those countries’ cuisines, the menu at Haiget’s (pronounced with a long i) will explain it in plenty of detail. A useful rule of thumb to remember during your selection process is that, basically speaking, Ethiopian dishes tend to be spicier and Kenyan entrees less so. The menu helps underscore that division by putting the individual countries’ fare in separate columns; note that the little flame icons following most of the Ethiopian selections are not just there for visual flair.
Each entrée comes with one side dish during lunch hours and two during dinner, chosen from a shared pool listed in the menu’s center column. That’s where a bit of planning – and some samosas to tide you over – may come in handy:
If, for example, your main dish is something less potent like the Kenyan Chapati (a flat bread with very slightly crispy edges) and Beef Stew – which is, by the way, a good showcase of the restaurant’s ability to present cuisine that’s tasty while neither incredibly spicy nor beyond American diners’ kens – it frees up your palate for sides that are a little snappier like the Avocado Salad (with diced jalapenos) or Senig (peppers stuffed with a tomato-and-onion filling).
On the other hand, you could opt for an entrée with more punch like the Ethiopian Siga Wot, which is a bit like a curry texturally, composed of slivers of beef simmered with ginger, garlic, clarified butter, onion and Ethiopian spices. It’s extremely tender and thoroughly delicious, and will probably make you think you’re about to either explode or breathe fire, or both – but in a good way, if you like it hot. This might be a good time to consider more soothing sides like Gomen (kale sautéed with tomatoes and onions) or Msir Kik, a mild concoction of lentils, garlic and ginger. You’ll also want to sample the accompanying injera, a thick roll of soft, spongy sourdough flatbread that can be used as a utensil and definitely helps tamp down on the spicy sear so you can concentrate more on the savor.
Whatever you’re leaning toward, give some serious thought to the Chips Masala – they’re French fries seasoned with black and red pepper, dried mint and lemon juice, and they’re amazing. Just slightly piquant, not overwhelming at all.
One more thing: however delicious or intriguingly exotic the food might be, a restaurant suffers if its service is bad. That is absolutely not the case here. Haiget herself is a cheerful, welcoming, wonderfully patient presence who always seems happy to answer questions, however often those questions are some variant on “Wait, what’s in that one again?” We were the very last customers in the place one Friday night, and she still walked us through the menu, made a couple of suggestions about pairing dishes, set us up with a complimentary starter of sweet fried bread and an extra piece of injera during the meal and didn’t seem at all eager to hustle us out, even though it was more than a little past closing time when we departed. The food coupled with the dining experience and little touches like the music or milo (mild Kenyan hot chocolate) make it an easy place to recommend.
And so, in honor of Mother’s Day this month, remember this enduring bit of universal matriarchal wisdom: Try it, you’ll like it!
► Quick Tips
Stay on target. For the record (it’s not particularly big and fairly easy to miss), Haiget’s is on the south side of Edmond Road, just west of Fretz.
Don’t sweat it. If you want it, they will set you up with a traditional mesob dinner at which everybody eats from the same tray by scooping up bites using injera instead of silverware – but you can start out with something as familiar as fish and chips if you’d rather. The menu has plenty of options; you might find something delicious if you push yourself a little, but you don’t have to step too far outside your comfort zone.
Haiget’s Restaurant and Catering
308 W Edmond Road, Edmond | 405.509.6441 | www.haigets.com
Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tue-Fri | 9:30am-2 p.m. Sat
Dinner 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Tue-Thu | 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Fri-Sat