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Kokeb Review


Neighbourhood: Downtown
330 Ellice Ave
Phone: 204-784-9267
Entrees: $7-$11

Ethiopian meals—a colourful array of curries and stews set on a canvas of injera bread— are a painter’s palette of mysterious and magnificent flavours. Chiles, red onion, garlic, ginger and cilantro are touchstone tastes of this East African cuisine.

There’s artistry at work at Kokeb, a 70-seat Ellice Avenue restaurant and one of a handful of Ethiopian eateries in Winnipeg.
Here, you’ll find aromatic, full-bodied wots (stews), tender tibs (sautéed meats), fragrant lentil and split-pea curries and heaps of spongy injera (sourdough flat bread) to sop up the scrumptious sauces.

As with many ethnic eateries, the décor is a mish-mash of cultural keepsakes, pictures, paintings, etchings and objects.

Portions are generous and downright cheap. For a gentle introduction to Ethiopian cuisine, try the vegan lunch buffet.

Creamy brown lentils are reminiscent of pork and beans without the pork. Yellow split peas deliver mellow spice and a hint of garlic with a creamed-corn consistency.

Two kinds of stir-fried cabbage, one with beets and the other with ribbons of carrot, offer pleasing crunch and a sweet hit to counter the savoury.

Mild curry potato wedges, seasoned with a blend of Ethiopian spices, and injera round out the buffet.

Be sure to ask for Ethiopian “salsa,” a fresh, rough-cut relish of cilantro, garlic and jalepeño that should be used prudently. Audacious heat instantly bursts forth from this bright-emerald condiment.

Beef, lamb, goat and chicken are served in a variety of wots and tibs on the regular à la carte menu.

Amazing concoctions of spices, herbs and pastes lace each dish.

The doro tibs, a heaping plate of tender fried morsels of chicken sautéed with white onions, green peppers and rosemary, are divine. Our guess: cinnamon, cloves and chillis are all part of this delectable, meaty medley.

Lips tingles after every spicy bite. Tip to the wise: reach for injera, made with barley and teff flour, to extinguish any fires.

Yebeg tibs are chewy bites of lamb sautéed with white onion, green peppers, rosemary and black pepper. The gamey protein dominates this savoury hash.

A potent pop of cilantro laces every bite in the crispy fried ground beef samosas, a quick and satisfying nosh.

Finish the meal with a wee but powerful cup of Ethiopian coffee. The dark, rich and creamy brew will send you off with a jump in your step.