At my first Plant-based Meetup (click here for my post on this), I asked for suggestions for other places for the group to meet in the future. Some folks enthusiastically shouted out “Fasika!” and I said, “What’s that?”
Tuns out, it’s an Ethiopian restaurant. I like to pride myself on knowing all of the fun, locally owned restaurants, but I have to be honest: I’d never even heard of this place…I guess I’m slipping.
So I picked a recent Tuesday night to visit Fasika for the first time — a night I hoped would be slow enough for me to be able for me to chat with the owner. When I walked in, there were only two other tables of people… perfect! I got to meet and talk with Charles, who is Fasika’s owner. He proudly went over the menu items and explained their origins and also their healthy ingredients. He told me that when he first moved to the U.S., he gained 80 pounds eating American food. He decided that he’d go back to eating all of the good food he grew up with. He was back to health within a year.
Within a few minutes of being in the restaurant, three more groups of people walked in and Charles sprung into action, greeting them with a big smile. Some he knew as regulars and others were first-timers like me. When Charles made his way back to my table, I asked him to pick four favorite items for me.
Fasika has a four item special for $15.95. He chose Mesir Wat (split lentils with berbere sauce), Ndengu (mung beans), Matoke Mix (plantain with veggies and spices), and Kienyeji (pigeon peas, spinach, corn, potatoes). All of the dishes come with injera, which is thin but spongy bread that takes five days for each batch. (You can find photos and explanations of the food on Fasika’s website.)
I first had Ethiopian food in Washington, D.C. on a trip with my son Cole, who was 10 years old at that time. My friend recommended it because he said Cole would love it, because you get to eat with your hands. It’s true, there are no utensils. You pull off a piece of injera bread and pinch the food in it and pop it into your mouth. Even as an adult, it’s pretty fun. It also feels very social when you’re out with friends. Also, it would also be great for a date night!
The food arrived and it was beautiful. I worked my way around the plate counter clockwise a few times, enjoying each distinct yet complementary flavor. The red lentils had a nice, warm spiciness while the pigeon peas had a mild sweet-and-sour flavor. I couldn’t pick a favorite. Charles brought me a little spoonful of the berbere spice mix. I tried a pinch on its own and it has such deep and complex flavors. I sprinkled the rest on the spicy red lentils. So good if you like tons of flavor and moderate heat.
If you’re looking for a fun lunch for your office, Fasika delivers. Their food is so popular, they do 10-15 deliveries per day. This is better than any team-building scheme you have planned, believe me. Just be sure to call a day ahead.
I mentioned my choices, but you might’ve noticed I didn’t mention meat. They do have chicken, beef, and lamb, too.
Location: 4712 N. Blackstone Ave., Fresno
Hours: 12-9 p.m. Tues-Sat.
Contact: (559) 222-2801
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