Ethiopian dining is an interesting experience, and one many are hesitant to try, because of both the unfamiliarity of the food, and the way in which it is eaten. Alem Ethiopian Village is the perfect place for those willing to try this unique experience. The staff is low-key and friendly, and willing to answer any questions, and help with pronunciations. Meals here are best eaten with a group, and when not in a hurry.
Ethiopian food is meant to be shared, and so the dishes are ordered by the group, and come on one or two large serving platters. It's also meant to be eaten with the hands, using pieces of Injera, a type of crepe-like bread. The Injera comes rolled and placed around the platter. The food itself is lying on yet another large sheet of Injera, which is also torn off and eaten. The texture of Injera is more crepe or sponge like, rather than bread like. It is served cool or room temperature.
The Ethiopian Sampler is the best way to start off, as it's a great introduction to the variety of food that's offered. There are three samplers - a totally vegetarian, a meat stew, and a "carnivore". Both the meat stews sampler and the carnivore sampler also come with two vegetarian sides.
The choices of dishes are vegetarian, beef, lamb, chicken and seafood.
One of the favorite dishes on the menu is the Buticha - a dish made up of ground chickpeas mixed with lemon juice, diced onions and Jalapenos. It resembles a pile of dry scrambled eggs, but the texture is soft and doughy, and the taste is mild, despite the Jalapenos. It's instantly addicting.
The vegetarian dishes here are cooked in vegetable oil, and none contain honey, milk, butter or eggs.
Quosta, a dish of chopped spinach simmered in a mild red sauce and flavored with onions and fresh garlic is not to be missed. Oddly, a similar dish, Gomen, made the same way but with Collard Greens, was the least favorite of the meal
The addition of the sides of Awaze, a chipotle-like sauce, and Mitmita, a ground spice mixture, is essential. We liked the spice and sauce together on the milder dishes, to kick up the heat and flavor.
After dinner, Be-Jebena, a clay pot of thick dark Ethiopian coffee, was the perfect finish to a fantastically diverse meal.
For More Information:
Alem Ethiopian Village Restaurant
307 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Lunch: Tues - 11 AM - 2.30 PM
Dinner: Mon - Wed - 5 PM - 9 PM; Thurs - Fri 5 PM - 10 PM
Weekends: Sat. Noon - 10 PM; Sun 4 PM - 9 PM
Parking: Street (free after 6 PM on weekdays)
Delivery: Yes - limited time and area - call for details. $2.00 delivery fee; $15 minimum order
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Specials: Special deals with large groups/parties. Call for details