Restaurant Review: Walia Ethiopian Cuisine

Let me start by saying that Ethiopian food is the bomb dot com!  The dishes are loaded with bold spices and you eat with your hands, using tangy injera bread to scoop up your food. When I lived in the East Bay, I frequently BARTed to Oakland to stuff my face at Addis.  After moving down to San Jose, I discovered the culinary gem that is Walia Ethiopian Cuisine.

Walia is a cozy restaurant with top-notch service.  The Man and I go there for dinner about once a month and have the same waiter every time (I really need to ask him his name) who  recognizes us as soon as we walk in the door and simply asks if we’re having our usual order as we’re being seated.  My ‘usual’ is the vegetarian combination, which is brought to the table about 10 minutes later along with an extra plate of injera.

Nerd alert!

Each Ethiopian has their own variation of the veggie combo, here’s what Walia has to offer (pictured above):

  • Miser wot (left): Red lentils simmered in berbere sauce
  • Alicha wot (bottom): Split peas prepared mild in turmeric and light sauce
  • Gomen (right): Stewed collard greens
  • Atkilt wot (top): Cabbage, carrots, potatoes simmered in mild sauce
  • Shiro (center): Pureed chickpeas in berbere sauce

All five dishes taste great, but I think the miser wot is my favorite because it is the spiciest.  The combo plate can easily feed two normal people but I eat it all on my own.  I always wear loose clothing and bring a crane when I eat at Walia because all that food you see in the picture above quickly finds its way to my belly.  I walk out of the restaurant feeling like Violet Beauregarde in full-on blueberry mode, but it is so worth it!   (Bonus points if you can name that movie reference)


Vegan on Vacation: Kauai

I had a late start contributing to the Vegan MoFo pandemonium because I was on vacation in Kauai the first week of October.  We went for my friend’s wedding and extended the trip to celebrate The BF’s 30th birthday, the following weekend.  At first, I was worried that I would have a hard time finding good food to eat, so I packed a bunch of Picky Bars and a weeks worth of Vega smoothies to make sure I didn’t starve.  It turns out, there was no need to worry, Kauai has many options to offer visiting herbivores!

In general, I try to avoid being the pain-in-the-ass vegan wedding guest.  I eat before and bring a snack bar in my purse so I don’t get stuck eating only garnish for the evening.  Planning a wedding is stressful, and I don’t want to make matters worse by expecting the bride and groom to cater to my relatively unusual dietary restrictions.  I hit the jackpot at this wedding and my emergency snack spent the whole evening in my handbag.  There was a bottomless platter of grilled veggies and the most awesome bride requested a special vegan plate for me (Curried lentil and rice cakes).  I imbibed in a few too many mai tais before the food arrived and forgot to take pictures.

The rest of this post is going to be light on words and heavy on pictures (mostly of food).  Here’s a list of things to do and places to eat that I recommend if you are fortunate to find yourself on the garden isle Kauai.

Places to eat:

Java Kai Kappa (Offering several non-dairy milks for your latte and a selection of vegan pastries)
Living Foods Market
Hoku Foods Natural Market  (The only place I found that still carries French Meadow sprouted grain bagels.  I bought every package they had in stock!)
Moloa’a Sunrise Juice Bar (The fresh non-alcoholic pina colada knocked my flip-flops off)
Postcards Cafe
Plantation Garden (This is where we had dinner for The BF’s birthday)

Things to do/places to see:

Waimea Canyon (and hike to Waipoo Falls)
Poipu Beach
Hanalei Bay
Hike the Kalalau and Hanakapi’ai Falls Trails (The 8-mile round-trip trek is worth the effort)
Tour the Na Pali Coast on a catamaran (we sailed with Captain Andy’s and the crew was fantastic)

Lunch plate from Living Foods Market

Pina colada and fresh pineapple juice from Moloa’a Sunrise juice bar

Limeade and hibiscus cooler from Postcards Cafe

Seared polenta cakes from Postcards Cafe

The Tandoori with grilled tofu from Postcards Cafe

Chocolate silk pie from Postcards Cafe

The view from my morning runs

Fruits of our labor: free guava on the Hanakapi’ai Trail

View from the Kalalau trail

Yummy cocktails from Plantation Gardens

Tofu inari at Plantation Gardens

Tofu stir-fry from Plantation Gardens

A beautiful pair… of coconuts!