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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

Eritrean cuisine provides a unique flavor

I am always up for trying new things. When I heard there was an Eritrean restaurant in town, I figured I would try it. \nRed Sea, located in a small converted house at 404 E. Fourth St., is quite possibly the only Eritrean restaurant I have ever heard of. For those who do not know, Eritrea is a relatively small country on the coast of the Red Sea that gained independence from Ethiopia in the early '90s. \nRed Sea -- the restaurant -- is small, but that can be a good thing. It is made up of two rooms, which creates a very intimate feel. In addition, Red Sea is filled with Eritrean art: colorful baskets and interesting wall hangings make the room feel warm and cheery. \nThe service at Red Sea was efficient and friendly. They handled all of our questions nicely and brought out our food piping hot. \nThe dinner menu was alarmingly small, even smaller than the lunch menu. There are three main types of dishes, Ziganey, Alecha and Tippissa. \nFor dinner my companion opted for the Tippissa ($11.95), while I opted for a combination plate ($12.95) which contained Lamb Alecha, Chicken Ziganey and Beef Ziganey. Most dishes are served with rice or Injera, a flat sourdough bread. \nOur meals started with a nice salad. Lettuce and tomatoes were smothered in a simple homemade Italian dressing. The lettuce and tomatoes were fresh, the dressing strong in vinegar and garlic.\nNext came the Tippissa. Tippissa is grilled beef in a brown sauce with carrots and potatoes. This was probably the best thing on the menu. Big and hearty chunks of carrots and potatoes complemented the meat well. The sauce itself had a distinct taste of garlic to it. The other spices were foreign to me, but quite good. This mild dish tasted almost like a stew, but the meat was grilled, not boiled. Though tasty, the meat was not high quality. That was okay in this case because the cooking method thoroughly tenderized it. \nThe beef and chicken Ziganey was OK, but not great. Ziganey is a red pepper sauce. As you can imagine, this made both the chicken and meat quite spicy, but not uncomfortably so. \nBecause the hot spice of the red pepper sauce dominated the flavor, the taste of the meat itself was lost. Unfortunately, the hard, dried-out consistency remained. This made the beef Ziganey rather chewy.\nThe chicken was a better base for the Ziganey. Because the chicken leg did not absorb the flavor quite like the beef, the natural flavor of chicken was able to come through. The chicken was also tender and juicy, making it enjoyable.\nIf you enjoy curry-based dishes, Lamb Alecha might be for you. Alecha, which appears to be a yellow curry-based sauce, complemented the natural gaminess of the lamb. The strong curry flavor balanced the taste of the lamb, making it palatable. This mellow dish created a nice contrast with the Ziganey; however, this dish alone would leave one somewhat disappointed. \nOverall, Red Sea is a good place to try if you are adventurous. The food, which was decent, was rather unique. Although I did not come away with a love of Eritrean cuisine, the experience alone was worth the trip to Red Sea.

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