New Ethiopian Restaurant in Bangkok: Habesha

Bangkok’s new Ethiopian restaurant, opened at the end of October 2012, is actually Bangkok’s last Ethiopian restaurant at a new address. Guessing from reviews of the previous Habesha this new Habesha is an improvement. We were a group of nine and several of us have been starved for Ethiopian food. The music was a blend of Ethiopian and reggae, and the equipment for a band was set up in one corner. Tables can accommodate big groups and there is a floor seating area in front for traditional coffee service.

Vegetarians can get an assortment of dishes that looks sparse when spread out on the serving platter but is actually quite filling. Beef and lamb options are plentiful and there are a few chicken dishes as well. Traditional Ethiopian coffee and tea are available, and in keeping with the character of the neighborhood, shisha is available for smoking.

Doro wot, the spicy chicken stew with a hardboiled egg in it was delicious and priced just under 300 baht. Most dishes are in the 180-250 range with a few specialties hitting 300 baht (roughly $10USD).

One of those specialties is kitfo, a dish of chopped beef with warm spiced butter and mit mit (a red pepper powder blend) mixed into it. Traditionally, this is served raw, and yes, I know I am in Bangkok, but I love this stuff like a junkie and I had it raw anyway. It’s so tender that way and cooking it really changes it in both taste and texture. The spice got to me a bit as it sometimes does, but there were no emergency room trips. My mouth is watering just thinking about it again. There is a side of Ethiopian cheese (similar vaguely to a dry sort of cottage cheese) and some more hot chili powder in case you really want to turn it up a notch. It is indeed hot but quite flavorful.

Service was a bit slow for such a large group. The staff recommends making reservations and even giving some kind of indication of what you might be eating. Unlike the Thai habit of serving a dish whenever its ready and often leaving one person watching everyone else eat (or everyone watching that one person eat), the Ethiopians value dining together and it took longer to get all dishes done to be served together. Typically all the food comes on one big shared tray and it is scooped up with a sour-dough spongy crepe-like bread called injera. (Hey, gluten sensitive diners, it’s made with teff flour which is naturally gluten-free).

When we were there some of us got our own trays as it would have been hard otherwise with such a large group on a long table. The menu was in English with pretty good descriptions of the dishes and staff could explain things better if they still weren’t clear. We all left uncomfortably stuffed — it was hard to stop eating. I’d say that’s a good sign. Definitely going back.

Finding the Restaurant

GPS coordinates: 13.7429,100.553097
1/26 Sukhumvit Soi 3 Nana, Bangkok, Thailand 10110
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Take the BTS Skytrain to Nana station and walk to Sukhumvit Soi 3 (Soi Nana). Cross to the other side — if you are walking away from the Skytrain, Habesha is on the left side of the street. Cross the first little side alley and it is 3 doors down from the corner. This sign below will catch your attention, but it is misleading. To the right of this sign, seemingly the next establishment, is the entrance to the restaurant (bottom photo).

Call for reservations and/or orders: (+66) 089-798-1307, 086-085-0844, 085-902-2241
Open 11am-10pm daily. Takes credit cards.

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