To save anyone else in my situation from opening Google Maps right now, it borders Sudan and Ethiopia and is across the Red Sea from Yemen. It is also home to a cracking good slow-cooked stew.
The name Mu’ooz, means “tasty and healthy” in Tigrinya, which is the language of Eritrea. If ever there was a restaurant that lived up to its name, this is probably it.
In saying that, Mu'ooz is actually more than a restaurant. It is set-up as a not-for-profit enterprise, which has employed over 60 refugee women in the past 5 years, with 97 per cent of these women still in employment. That's pretty amazing for any organisation, let alone one that serves up some amazingly tasty food.
We kicked-off our Christmas feasting with some starters:
- Spring Rolls: Vegetables and lentils combined with Eritrean herbs and spices, hand wrapped in pastry
- Enjera and Dips: Enjera bread with an assortment of traditional dips
Enjera bread is truly something everyone should try at some point in their lives. Like a thin pancake (or thick crêpe, depending on your cooked batter of choice), it's an awesome soft and fluffy vehicle for dips and curries.
The spring rolls were a hit all round. They had a distinct North African taste to them, filled with a really well blended mix of lentils and aromatic herbs and spices.
If I ever went back here alone, I would still order every curry on the menu.
- Kantisha: A rich mushroom stew flavoured with berberé, onion, tomatoes & garlic
- Brusn: Red lentils stewed with Eritrean spices
- Alicha: A mild vegetable stew of potatoes, carrots, capsicum, zucchini & green beans perfumed with turmeric, ginger and herbs
- Duba: Pumpkin sautéed in the rich flavour of berberé in onion, tomatoes & garlic
- Shiro: Finely grounded chickpeas blended with chilli and herbs
- Qulwa: Tender lamb cubes sautéed in tasame with red onion, capsicum, garlic, ginger, rosemary & green chilies
- Zighni (Chicken or Beef): A traditional favourite spicy curry flavoured with berberé, onion, tomato, garlic & tasame
- Lamb Molikya: Lamb sautéed with North African spinach, onion, garlic & spices
The unique flavours in each dish really made our meal something special. Some curries were spicy hot, others were more aromatic. Not one curry was bland or disappointing which is impressive given the wide array of meats and sauces that was made up for us.
While the Duba pumpkin curry initially looked like plain-old mashed pumpkin, the berberé it was sauteed in made this one of my favourite dishes of the day.
I confess I had to research this too, but berberé is a spice mixture which usually includes chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella, and fenugreek. It can basically make anything tasty.
We also had a goat curry thrown in there which was rich, gamey and moreish.
- Busbusa: A traditional semolina & coconut cake served warm with ice cream
- Panna Cotta: A traditional Italian cream based dessert infused with cinnamon & coffee beans accompanied by fruit salad
Once again I didn't know this before I ate at Mu'ooz, but Eritrea was an Italian colony in the past, hence the Italian influence in the dessert range.
The panna cotta was a coffee-lovers cream dream. There wasn't much sugar in it at all, allowing a strong fresh roasted coffee flavour to permeate this dessert.
The Busbusa was lovely and soft, and the taste of coconut was perfect after our rich curries.
We also finished off with freshly roasted traditional coffee, pictured at the start of this post.
If you're in Brisbane and can't get to North Africa, head out to West End. North Africa has come to you.
- Mu'ooz can be found at 54 Mollison St, West End 4101
- Open Tuesday - Saturday for lunch and dinner, and Monday for dinner
- Dinner mains range from $17 – $20