1905 S. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 734-7393
Located on the S.W. Corner Mall at Washington/Western.

Tired of the same old lunch or dinner? Whatever that is, you won't find it at Tana. Tucked behind an unassuming storefront in a strip mall, you would never expect step inside this shop and into one of the oldest countries on earth - Ethiopia. I had heard good things about Tana's unique food, so I didn't hesitate. I nodded to the people finishing their dinner and watching television in the front of the space. I stepped past the shelves of convenience items like Band-Aids and Tylenol Cold Formula toward the smiling owner, Solomon. He greeted me with a courtly bow and introduced himself. He was closing in 15 minutes but was eager to review his menu with me.

I ordered a vegetarian combo and the lamb as he hurried into the back to speak to the cook. I opened the cooler that was stocked with American drinks and selected a bottle of AMBO, an imported Ethiopian natural mineral water. Solomon appeared at my side to open it and helped me select some ground spices to take home and use to perk up my own recipes. I purchased a smoky paprika and a garlicky spice that I can't pronounce. Solomon appologized that the labels are mostly in Ethiopian so I couldn't read them - but who needs to read when your nose can tell you what you like? I also bought some dried spicy jerky and pretzel-type bits that I munched as I sat watching TV with the regulars.

The vegetarian platter had selections that ranged from gently stewed potatoes, sweet carrots and cabbage, soulful collard greens, split peas with onion and garlic all the way to a spicy (but not hot spicy) mash of lentils. What a food journey!

The Lamb was a revelation. Just the right warmth and complexity of spices, I was shocked to see little lamb shanks nestled into the entre with the marrow intact. That rare treat is what makes celebrity chefs like Tony Bourdain and Mario Batali close up their kitchens and head out late at night to experience. Warm. Comforting. Satisfying.

Using the fresh Injera bread as a utensil to pluck bits of food felt more refined than shoveling it with a fork. I liked the way it complimented the entres.

I can't wait to try more of Tana's menu and I drove away thinking of what Solomon said, "I will make you happy with my food. If I don't please you, I don't survive." My note to Solomon is he won't stay in business if he keeps being so generous with the Injera bread. He could get away with a fraction of what he serves!

See you there!


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