Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Vision Cafe

4596.5 30th St
San Diego, CA 92101
no phone or website available...too new

San Diego has a rich Ethiopian cultural presence but there's always room for more. Vision Cafe is the latest addition to the North Park contingent. This place has been a work in progress for a few months now. It has a few dishes listed on their modest whiteboard, but often you'll find that they are out of whatever you've come in for. Had a plate of beans, tomatoes, feta and red onions tonight for $6. It was very filling and spiced very well; simple and delicious. It came with some bread (not injera, just a small white boule, and a bit dry at that). It's still worth checking out if you're in the neighborhood and into Ethiopian cuisine. The bulk of their menu is dedicated to coffees. They have some pastries and meat sandwiches (thought nothing on the menu looked very ethnic by their simple descriptions like "Ham").

They have sambusas as well (another name for samosa): meat or lentil. These are a bit different than Indian Samosas with savory mix of spices. They also have shelves with spices and incense on them (though you can probably buy the same stuff at the Awash market for cheaper).

If you want a place that's a bit more established, check out Harar, Awash Market or (if in City Heights area) Red Sea.

Now...to fly off on a total tangent, I've recently been hearing/reading a lot of people calling Ethiopian food "Eritrean" cuisine. The two terms get thrown around like synonyms, so I decided to read up on it a bit. Apparently, Eritrea is its own country that was once colonized, independent, annexed by Ethiopia and then declared independence from Ethiopia. So, if I understand the wikipedia article correctly, the two countries of Ethiopia and Eritrea are distinct and there could potentially even be offense taken by confusing the two. Now, which restaurants are around town are Eritrean and which are Ethiopian is beyond me. I believe I did see one specifically labeling its cuisine as Eritrean (I think that was Asmara out in City Heights). Other than that, I don't know which belong to which countries. Please chime in if you know for sure which restaurants are which. I'm sure there's a lot of overlap in cuisine (for the same reasons England has a lot of curry dishes and Indians play a mean game of cricket) but it's good to know what you can find where and what the subtle differences may be between the two cuisines.

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