It has been many years since I visited an Ethiopian restaurant, and with good reason. The last time I ate Ethiopian food, I wound up lying on my bathroom floor for hours with some of the most painful vomiting I have ever experienced in my life. The waiter had served me wheat injera – a fermented flatbread traditionally made with teff flour – despite the lengthy conversation we had about me needing gluten-free bread.
As a celiac, a new restaurant means taking a risk, and profuse vomiting is not the adventure we typically seek. But eating at the same restaurants over and over again is dull. Harambe, an Ethiopian restaurant on Commercial Drive, had a sign in their window advertising gluten-free injera. I figured if they had a sign, they must be aware of what gluten actually is, and put myself at their mercy.
It was a risk worth taking and neither Laura nor I got sick! The sharing platter came with an assortment of vegetarian dishes (meat is available for carnivores) such as spicy lentils and carrots seasoned with exotic spices. One thing I love about Ethiopian food, besides the flavours, is the communal way in which it is shared. The dishes come served on a large piece of injera, which everyone at the table tears at and eats with their hands.
I had been to Harambe about 10 years ago, before I was diagnosed. At that time, the restaurant was notorious for its slow service. On my most recent visit, there were few diners, and the service was timely and very friendly – it almost felt as if we had been invited into someone’s home.
A vegetarian platter for two costs $25.99 + $3 per piece of gluten-free injera. It’s not cheap, but it’s very reasonable, especially since you are getting a nutritious and filling meal. Teff flour is nutritionally dense – it makes a great addition to your cupboard at home – and fills you up more quickly than wheat. We ordered three pieces of injera, but two would have been plenty for us. We went home with enough leftovers for a small, but very delicious, lunch.
Harambe is located at 2149 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC.