Dubai, UAE Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Finding Bonna Annee(???) is half the fun Ã¢â‚¬â€œ as long as your idea of fun is getting lost in Al Qusais. Luckily for us, our taxi driver was as enthusiastic about finding this innocuous Ethiopian eatery as we were and, after calling the restaurant countless times, as well as friends, family and anyone else who probably didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a clue where it was, we somehow chanced upon it.
We were rewarded by a simple, clean venue with low wicker tables and chairs, a flatscreen television screening Premier League football, and plenty of Ethiopian faces. Our relief at having found the place gave way to acute hunger, which must have been quite visible because the manageress was soon with us, recommending dishes with a reassuring smile.
For those unfamiliar with Ethiopian cuisine, much of it revolves around injera Ã¢â‚¬â€œ unleavened flatbread with a spongy texture and slightly sour flavour. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not actually the biggest fan of injera. This, of course, is just personal preference (millions of Ethiopians would disagree); itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just that the flannel-like texture doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sit well with me. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m happy to report, however, that this didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop me from enjoying my evening at Bonna Annee.
On the manageressÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recommendation (read: insistence) we ordered the Bonna Annee special, which was almost like a tasting menu of all the dishes Ã¢â‚¬â€œ key wet (a beef stew), minchet (ground beef), fir fir (shredded, marinated injera with chilli) and shiro wat (a kind of mixed-pea purÃƒÂ©e). We also ordered a bowl of tibs (marinated beef cubes) and gomen be sega Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcollared green sautÃƒÂ©ed with onionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ã¢â‚¬â€œ aka spinach with slow-cooked beef.
Once the manageress had plopped neat piles of each dish on the large injera platter, we set about tearing off the bread and scooping up fingerfuls of the colourful mosaic of beef, vegetables and lentils (my date made the mistake of asking for a fork, but it transpired that Bonna Annee doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do cutlery). The variety of flavours and tastes matched that of our dinnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s colourful appearance Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the beef tibs were wonderfully flavourful, though a tad chewy, while the minchet with hints of raw chilli proved invigorating and addictive. The gomen be saga was very much like a hearty beef and vegetable stew, though was given an extra edge with yet more raw chillis.
Considering how long it took to find the restaurant, we managed to plough through our injera platter in next to no time Ã¢â‚¬â€œ testament to the rich, spicy and authentic jumble of flavours with which we were presented. Anyone willing to brave the journey will be rewarded similarly, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure.Ã‚Â
The bill (for two)Ã‚Â
1x Bonna Annee specialÃ‚Â Dhs30
1x TibsÃ‚Â Dhs30
1x GomenÃ‚Â Dhs30
2x WaterÃ‚Â Dhs4Ã‚Â
Total (excluding service) Dhs94
By Oliver Robinson for Time Out Dubai