The Yonge and Wellesley neighbourhood in downtown Toronto is a vibrant and diverse area where there is always something new to discover. It’s a truly walkable neighbourhood full of bars, interesting shops and exotic restaurants.Ethiopian House is shining example of the diverse food available in the area. It’s a family business that has been a fixture in the neighbourhood for over 20 years! Ethiopian cuisine traditionally consists of a lot of vegetable curries, from mild to spicy, and very spicy meat dishes, served in dollops on top of a spongy sourdough flatbread called injera which is made from fermented teff flour. The flatbread is torn by hand and used to scoop up the curries. It’s incredibly delicious and very healthy! If you’re tempted to try Ethiopian fare but don’t know where to start, we are here to help! Trying a new-to-you cuisine can feel intimidating, so we spoke with Mohammed Haddis owner of Ethiopian House, for his best advice to help you add a little spice and variety to your life.
So Mohammed, how long have you been in business in the Yonge and Wellesley neighbourhood?
Since 1996. It was my brother in law’s idea. We wanted to be in the center of town to introduce Ethiopian cooking to more people, to be more inclusive.
It certainly worked! What keeps your customers coming back for more after all these years?
The ambiance, the food definitely. We take care of our customers. We’re on the reasonable side for pricing, but we are also consistent and the food is good here. The ambiance has to be great for people to keep coming back.
Some of our readers may be new to Ethiopian food. What dishes do you recommend for first-timers?
It all depends, really. There are vegetarian options and meat options. If you are vegetarian, we suggest the Vegetarian Combo. My favourite curry is Shiro Wat, a chickpea curry.
If you are a meat eater we hope you’ll try the Meat Combo. We serve 8 curries in the Vegetarian Combo, and the Meat Combo features both vegetarian and meat dishes.
Ethiopian food is great to share, what shareable menu options do you recommend for couples and groups?
The Sharing Platter on our menu can be shared easily. We also have a delicious chicken stew which is great for sharing, it’s great paired with a veggie combo to share.
That all sounds delicious! Please tell us about the Ethiopian coffee ceremony that you offer.
We offer a great coffee ceremony, if you have the time and the company to enjoy it it is a very nice ceremony.
Is there a proper technique for eating Ethiopian food?
Yes and no, if you are looking at traditional culture we use the right hand to eat for religious and hygienic reasons but if you’re a lefty, you’re a lefty. The most important thing is that you enjoy the food. It’s fun to eat with your hands, but we do have cutlery if you need it. Injera is traditionally eaten for every meal. We offer takeout for large and small groups. We do catering as well for parties and events. We’re here to offer a bit of our culture in Toronto.
The Yonge and Wellesley community is fueled by its diverse and inclusive culture. The variety of flavours available here is hard to match. If you’re looking to spice up your life and engage in all that this neighbourhood has to offer, pay a visit a to the Ethiopian House at 4 Irwin Avenue. Their comfortable, welcoming and unassuming atmosphere will make you feel right at home and offer you an exotic experience at the same time.
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