I have told you before that I am crazy about Ethiopian food. Actually, the entire family is. So, last friday, enroute to Chincoteague, we decided to take a detour to Philly for dinner at one of the numerous Ethiopian restaurants there. Especially, since the only Ethiopian place within a half hour of us charges half our bank account for a meal.
The numerous aforementioned Ethiopian restaurants are all bunched together on the same street (bad business sense, no?). Still, one winner stood out in my mind. After all, my office mate from my first job (12 years ago) used to constantly rave about Dahlak (though he made it sound like “Doll Luck”). What better recommendation than word of mouth (even if a little outdated)? So, to Dahlak we headed.
The omens were bad. We started out in pouring rain and friday evening traffic was staggering. The four hour drive to Chincoteague was starting to look more like seven. With even a little bit of sense, we would have grabbed pizza at a rest area, and kept on driving. But, how can you be someone you are not?
So. Landed at Dahlak an hour and a half behind schedule heavy with anticipation (and dizzy with hunger). And ordered sambusas for starters, and the veggie combo entree for four. The sambusas arrived within a minute. I stared at them closely just to be sure. Yes, these were no sambusas. They were their desi cousins, samosas, frozen and thawed. Unfortunately, I know that kind really well. Anger bubbled in me similar to Surya in Ghajini, and I bristled ready to say something scathing to the waitress. N and little N warned me to keep shut or risk having the waitress secretly spit on the remaining of our order before bringing it over. Common sense prevailed and I restrained myself.
And kept my hopes up. After all, I have had Ethiopian food in several restaurants in multiple countries (though, obviously not in Ethiopia). Have never tasted bad Ethiopian food ever. I cheered up and polished off the samosas (didn’t say they were bad, just offended that they weren’t the real deal).
The waitress sashayed over with the veggie combo. We were speechless. Never seen anything like this in all these years of Ethiopian dining. The lentils were grossly undercooked, the mushrooms looked and tasted like they had been marinated in Heinz ketchup, and the collard greens were just vile. Doll Luck? More like Daal Suck.
In the words of the wise Master Shifu (of Kung Fu Panda fame), there is now a Level Zero.