CONTRIBUTED BY ANJALI LIND
I was determined to find Ethiopian food in Seoul, so when I heard that a reggae club in Itaewon, Club Zion, served food on the weekends, my husband and I headed there on the next free weekend night we had.
The club is definitely a bit intimidating upon entry, but don’t let that stop you! When you walk in, there’s a pool table right in front, patrons smoking everywhere, and it’s much more of a bar atmosphere than a restaurant one. The food, however, more than makes up for the atmosphere, and is well worth a visit (or two, as we’ve already been twice in the last month!).
In our two visits, we have ordered the Beef Awaze Tibs, the Meat Combination platter (Yesega Beyayenet), and the Veggie Combination Platter (Beyayenet). The combo platters come served on injera, the traditional Ethiopian bread that is a sourdough-risen flatbread made with teff flour, soft and spongy and the perfect eating utensil. The first time we ordered beef tibs, it was served in a dish, and the second time it was served on another piece of injera, so perhaps it’s up to the whim of the kitchen.
I have eaten at many Ethiopian restaurants in my life, and this place is right up there with the best of them. The tibs are delicious, perfectly seasoned with the berbere Ethiopian spice blend. Everything on the veggie platter was amazing – several different lentil curries, collards, potatoes, green beans, and a small fresh salad. None of the Ethiopian restaurants that I’ve been to in the U.S. have offered a meat combo, so that was fascinating to try.
We got to sample many different meat curries, all delicious, that we probably would never have gotten around to ordering on a dish-by-dish basis. A word of warning: kitfo is made with raw minced beef, and unlike other Ethiopian restaurants I’ve been in, Club Zion doesn’t state this on the menu. The first time we ordered the meat combo, it didn’t have any kitfo on it, but it did the second time. It’s delicious, but not for everyone!
Ethiopian dining is communal – everyone shares what’s on the table. There are no utensils given – you just tear off pieces of injera and scoop up the food with the bread. You can order extra pieces of injera if you need more. As the meal goes on, the flavors of the different dishes soak in to the injera, which is one of my favorite parts of the meal.
If you get the chance to check out Club Zion, you will not regret it! Ethiopian food hasn’t become as mainstream as Indian or Thai, but it is one of my favorite cuisines, and everyone I’ve ever introduced it to has loved it.
click photos to enlarge menus
Club Zion Ethiopian Restaurant and Bar
Hours: Weekends only, 6:00pm-Closing
Address: 128-16 Itaewon Dong Yongsan gu, Seoul
GPS Coordinates: 37.5339574, 126.9930028
Directions: Coming out of Itaewon Station, take Exit 3 and walk straight until you reach the Dunkin Donuts. Take a right at the next corner and continue walking up the hill, and Club Zion will be on your left at the first crosswalk.