Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2010 Sep 29 - Zeni Ethiopian

2010 Sep 29 - Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant
San Jose, CA

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Elsa had to cancel at the last minute because of family duties, so just four of the Lunch Bunch plus one guest will be headed to Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant.

But we are also stopping at the Matsuwa Japanese Market before lunch and at Santana Row, the newest upscale Silicon Valley place after lunch. Here is a press release from Santana Row's web site:
SANTANA ROW, FEDERAL REALTY’S SIGNATURE MIXED-USE PROJECT, NAMED ‘PROJECT OF THE DECADE’ — Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE:FRT) today announced Santana Row, the 638,000 square foot mixed-use development in San Jose, California, has been named the ‘Project of the Decade’ by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. In addition, 300 Santana Row, Santana Row’s newest office and retail address has been awarded LEED® Gold Rating by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

Patti and Kenny drive to my home as I will be driving my car today. But along the way we will be picking up Grandma in Livermore and Manjo in Sunnyvale.

Manjo is staying with his son and daughter-in-law and helping out with his new grandson and two year old granddaughter.
Mother Grace and son Willem

Here is Willem's face who was born on August 26th

We are now all loaded up with the five of us and head to the Matsuwa Japanese Market.
They did not allow photos of the inside so I did not take any. I have no idea why they did not want photos taken, but....

Anyway after an hour or so everyone is getting hungry although it is still fairly early, so about 11:15 AM we head the one mile to the Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant.

Well, it has been years since I have been in this neighborhood. I have my GPS, but I forgot to add the restaurant's address into it. I know from looking at the maps on my computer that it is on Saratoga Avenue and just a mile south of the Market which is also on Saratoga Avenue. I also know that it is in a shopping center and is not easy to spot from Saratoga Avenue. Anyway I missed the place and doubled back a short distance and pulled into a shopping center and actually found a pay phone that had an intact telephone book. I found the address. Put it in my GPS and headed out to the street so the GPS could get its bearings. It led me on the streets around to the other side of the shopping center from where I had found the telephone book. The restaurant happened to be across the parking lot from that pay phone.

But the delay was really okay since Zeni's opens at 11:30 AM and we got to the door just as they were changing the Closed sign to Open. :-)
It only took 15 minutes to travel one mile

The owner did not wish her picture to be taken but the young waitresses were less shy.
The smiling one turned out to be our waitress

Manjo, Patti, Grandma and Kenny

My primary care physician is an Ethiopian and I had emailed him for recommendations on what to order.

Here is what he suggested and my annotations about what the dishes are:
Chunks of lean lamb sauteed with onions, tomato, and green pepper and purified butter tossed in berbere sauce with Injera along with our exotic spices


Pureed split red lentil are simmered in Zeni's own spicy, hot berbere sauce
Split yellow piece made with onion, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Mild
A delicious vegetable: Boiled chopped cabbage, sliced carrots, and potato chunks, simmered with onions, garlic, ginger, and vegetable oil
Chopped collard greens simmered in a mild sauce of oil, onion and herbs
Pieces of Injera tossed in blended fresh tomato, onions, green pepper mixed with Zeni's own home made dressing

Beef Kitfo (cooked, raw or rare) mixed with home made cheese

Injera is a pancake-like bread made out of teff flour. It is traditionally eaten in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia (where it is also called laxoox ) and Yemen (where it is known as lahoh).

Berbere Sauce A common Ethiopian sauce that is hot and spicy tasting. Made with the seeds of cumin, cardamom, coriander, and fenugreek that are combined with garlic, ground cloves, turmeric, grated gingerroot, black pepper, salt, paprika, cinnamon, and dried red chiles, this sauce provides a distinctive tangy flavor for ethnic foods.

I actually handed our waitress a printout of the above, so that is what we had for lunch.
Clockwise from the top: salad, collard greens with homemade cheese and Beef Kitfo (cooked),
lentils, cabbage, bread mixed salad, the other half of the collard greens and Beef Kitfo and split peas. In the center is the lamb. There is Injera below the vegetables and around the lamb.

No utensils. You tear off pieces of the Injera and use those to scoop up mouthfuls of the various dishes.
Patti and Grandma with a piece of Injera and eating

There is a basket of Injera next to Manjo and later our waitress brought us out a second basketful

This is the after photo what is left are pieces of Injera that are cooked in the lamb dish and not much else

We also split two Baklava for dessert which was served warm. This was our first time eating Ethiopian cuisine so I can not compare this restaurant to other Ethiopian eateries but I can recommend the food at Zeni's, at least the dishes that we had. Except for the YE-TIMATIM FITFIT which I could do without, but it is part of the Vegetarian Combo.
Here are Grandma and Kenny reading the Reviews in the window of the restaurant after lunch

After lunch the ladies insisted on spending a couple of hours shopping at Santana Row. Now Santana Row is not a Mall. The Valley Fair Mall, a traditional Mall is just north of Santana Row.
Santana Row has upscale clothing stores, restaurants galore, a hotel a concierge and on the second and third floors above the shops and restaurants is housing. There are also offices in Santana Row. It is really a mixed use Place. Nothing I have visited before is comparable.

I took no photos because I would have had to take too many for this little Lunch Bunch Blog.
You simply need to visit the place.
While the ladies shop the men head into a restaurant for some gelato and/or sorbetto.

Luckily it is Wednesday and after lunch so we had found a close in parking spot.
Amazingly Patti and Grandma arrived at the car right at the agreed upon departure time

We drop Manjo off after a few miles then depart as the commute traffic is already starting to build. We experience heavy, but moving traffic and avoid any traffic jams. We left my home a little after 8:00 AM and arrive back a little before 6:00 PM.


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