Muzita Abyssinian Bistro
4651 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116
About a year ago I tried Ethiopian food for the first time. I was visiting the Bay Area and went to a place that my friends love. It was an interesting experience. I ended up enjoying the different dishes we sampled and was also amazed by how cheap the food was. So about a month ago, I noticed a lot of yelpers buzzing about Muzita and I suddenly wanted Ethiopian food again. Of course, in hindsight, the fact that yelpers were buzzing about it maybe should have been a foreshadowing of what was to come as I've had a very hit/miss relationship with yelp lately.
It's been on my list of places to try for a while. My friend wanted to go try a new restaurant with me, so I suggested Muzita. He was happy to try it out since he has never had Ethiopian food before.
When we arrived, we were greeted very warmly by the owner. He joked with us a little bit before our server came over. The place is quite small. It's basically a house. But a very nice, cozy house. Our server soon came over and gave us the menu. We asked for recommendations and she gave us several. One of the things I really wanted to try was the honey wine, which I hadn't tried on my first Ethiopian adventure but had wanted to at the time.
The wine was interesting. It tasted sweet initially, then bitter, then sweet again. The bitterness was a lot like sake. It basically tasted like a sake mixed with honey.
After we ordered, we waited for a long time for the food to arrive. A long time. It didn't even seem that busy, so I'm not sure why the food took so long. One thing about our server which bugged me a little was that even though she was attentive and checked up on us, I wish she would take more initiative. For instance, all we ordered was the wine and one beer. And she didn't ask us if we wanted anything else or maybe just bring over some waters since we didn't order any drinks? Once we asked for the water, she brought it over. But I didn't think we should have needed to ask for it.
Finally, our appetizer came out. By this time we were pretty hungry. We had gone with the server's recommendation.
Teff Encrusted Bayma. Basically it was a pile of fried okra. Priced at $12, I found this to be way overpriced and not very good. Also, a bit awkward and messy to eat with your hands because the batter is a little wet. At $12, I can think of a lot of yummier appetizers I've eaten in the past.
Then came our food:
We ordered two entrees. The Siga Kilwa, which is basically a beef stew type dish. And Zigini Beggie, a braised lamb dish. Each entree comes with a choice of two sides. We chose potatoes and collard greens. If you've never had ethiopian food, they put the entrees on a large platter lined with injera, a pancake type bread that is slightly sour. They also serve you rolls of injera. You basically break off pieces of the bread and scoop up the food and eat it together. At the end, you can use the injera that lines the platter as well.
First off, we were only given two rolls of injera. Clearly not enough. And while you can ask for more, I just think we should have been given more initially. Or when the server checked on us several times and it was noticeable that we had run out, I think she should have asked if we wanted more. Once we asked for it, she gave us two more rolls, but I just don't think we should have needed to ask for it.
When I had Ethiopian food the first time, I was amazed by the flavors and spices used in the food. I was disappointed by the flavors at Muzita. The beef was very hard and chewy. The flavor was okay, but the beef just wasn't very appetizing. The collard greens were tasteless and bland. The potatoes were okay, very reminiscent of potatoes you would find in a beef stew. The lamb was the most flavorful dish, and had some spices.
Overall, I found this experience disappointing. I'm sad I didn't enjoy it more because the owner was very nice. He talked to us again on our way out. This place definitely has a very family friendly atmosphere. But I think the prices they charge for the food are just too high, and the flavors are too bland.