Guangzhou Restaurant Review: Zagol Ethiopian Restaurant
By Jocelyn Richards, November 20, 2017
In June 2015, we reviewed what claimed to be the first and only Ethiopian restaurant in Guangzhou at the time. The hostel-inspired apartment-turned-eatery was the talk of the town for six months or so, as visitors raved about the whole ‘eat with your hands’ concept and, of course, Ethiopia’s staple dish: a naturally gluten-free, spongy sourdough flatbread called ‘injera.’
Licensing issues forced the closure of Abyssinia soon after, but our sporadic cravings for juicy doro wat and tibs continued nonetheless.
Maybe that’s why this recent launch of Zagol Habesha in Taojin has us – and the entire city, it seems – so excited. Now we can finally recreate the pure bliss that is sopping up flavorful sauces with a fistful of flatbread – all for about half of what we used to pay at Abyssinia.
Zagol, located a two-minute walk from The Paddy Field on Huale Lu, features four tables inside and a patio that’s always packed (except in the photo above, which was taken right after the eatery first opened).
The owner, who spent the last three years preparing to open the shop, hails from a city an hour outside of LA but has roots in Ethiopia. His goal? To introduce classic Ethiopian cuisine to the greater Pearl River Delta community, expats and locals alike.
Avoid the headache of deciphering the menu and just ask for the Zagol special: one spoonful of every dish on offer plus a dollop of cheese in the center – all plopped atop fresh injera (RMB80).
One of these generous specials (pictured below) is enough for two to three, and injera is graciously replenished throughout the meal at no extra cost (Abyssinia used to charge RMB38 a pop for the flatbread).
If you’re still hungry, simply tell the staff which sample you liked best and order a full serving for between 60-80 kuai.
Lamb, beef, chicken, egg and veggie dishes as well as lentil- or bean-based sauces are all prepared fresh in the back kitchen. First-time diners will love the doro wat (RMB70), which combines chicken and a boiled egg cooked in spices, onion, garlic, tomato juice and ginger.
Beverages other than the roasted-on-site Ethiopian coffee are nothing special, so we suggest pairing water with your meal and then ordering a pot of coffee for two (RMB30) afterwards. The ritual surrounding Ethiopia’s coffee ceremony – including lighting incense beforehand and consuming a cup with homemade popcorn – was for us more enjoyable than the coffee itself, so do try to experience it when you visit.
Staff members are patient and the atmosphere warm, which is encouraging when you’re stumbling over pronunciations and asking how injera is made (hint: it’s never been done successfully outside of Ethiopia, according to Zagol’s founder).
During peak business hours, smoke from the adjoined kitchen tends to seep into the main dining area and can be irritating to sensitive eyes, so try to arrive by 6pm and grab a table outside.
If you never had a chance to visit Abyssinia, now’s the time to sample authentic Ethiopian food and support our city’s increasingly diverse F&B scene!
Price: RMB70Who’s going: Ethiopians, in-the-know foodies Good for: injera imported from Ethiopia; wats, tibs and coffee ceremoniesNearest metro: Taojin (Exit A), 4 minutes
Open daily, noon-10pm; see listing for Zagol Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant.
SOURCE : THAT'S