Ethiopian At Kaffa Crossing
Craig LaBan discovers a coffee shop where home-spun Ethiopian food is the star. Kaffa Crossing in West Philadelphia is a hit for the 7,000 Ethiopians in the area as well as local adventure eaters like LaBan and company.
But the real double-take came when we asked for our kitfo to be left raw. Essentially, kitfo is Ethiopian steak tartare, a mince of lean raw beef blended with spiced butter. But most local restaurants begin cooking their kitfo, usually without asking, the minute an American places his order – and then it’s little more than a hopped-up sloppy joe.
Tasting the kitfo raw is the ultimate barometer for the level of an Ethiopian kitchen – where the true quality of its meat and the chef’s mastery in spicing are put on naked display. And Kaffa’s kitfo was an adventure eater’s delight. The finely chopped beef, mounded over injera next to some pleasantly bitter steamed collard greens, was so fresh it was almost like an exotic melon. Glossed to a deep ruby hue by clarified butter infused with a musky spice called “mitmita,” a complex and traditional seasoning blend, each bite rang with shades of ginger, cloves, cardamom and a finishing snap of chile spice.
Two Bells – Very Good