You’ll find a few African restaurants scattered across the suburbs, but Jambo Jambo is Sydney’s only Ethiopian one
Jambo Jambo (“hello hello” in Swahili) has been open for a year now, tucked away in the complex that time forgot, Crows Nest Plaza. The primary yellow, red and green walls offer a burst of Ethiopian patriotism, and it’s hard not to get into the spirit of things with the colonial-style high backed chairs, litany of tourism posters and tribal artefacts on the wall.
Central to any Ethiopian meal is injera, a spongy fermented flatbread that looks like a coffee-coloured bubbly crepe. Owner, Joseph Bekele, makes his own using sorghum and teff flours, leaving it to ferment overnight for six hours to create its signature sour taste. Ethiopian curries are either mild (alicha) or hot (wot) and are served in small scoops on a giant round of injera. There are mild and hot variations of chicken, lamb and beef - the doro wot chicken has a decent chilli kick.
Vegetarians can choose from five options (each $19), including split peas, split lentils, collard greens, powdered chickpeas and alicha: a potato, carrot and cabbage stew. Our favourite dish of the night is the kitffo - lean beef that’s chopped finely and cooked in spiced butter. Ignore the rare or medium options and eat it how Ethiopians traditionally do it – raw. It’s the African version of steak tartare or Korean yukke, the raw beef macerated in a spiced clarified butter (Bekele makes his own). Do it. It’s amazing.
On weekends, Bekele serves coffee from freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee beans. It’s a bit of a show, with the roasted beans proudly paraded around the room in a frypan cloaked in smoke. The coffee is surprisingly smooth, brewed in traditional clay jebena coffee pots.
Prices can seem a little steep at first sight, with each main the size of a single ladle, but the injera is unlimited, presented as little scrolls in wicker baskets. There’s no need for cutlery here. You simply unroll a section of injera, tear it off, and use it as a scoop for the curry.