Taste a Country
Born in Nazret, Ethiopia, Shita Yenenh knew she wanted to own a restaurant from a young age. Culturally, a mother’s recipes were passed down generationally. Shita lost both parents while still very young, so she learned the art of cooking by remaking the recipes she tasted while at other people’s homes. When she moved to the United States with her daughters years later, she worked a few jobs before finally opening Zagol.
“When people come to my restaurant, they will get real food.”
Because of her unique exposure to multiple family recipes and styles, Zagol’s menu offers a wide range of flavor. As the sole chef and owner of the restaurant, Shita describes her cooking style as “…real. It’s real food, made with real love, and passion. I don’t stress about how much of something to put in. I make everything from scratch, by hand. When people come to my restaurant, they will get real food.”
Her favorite dish to serve to her guests is Zilzil Tibs, a savory dish of seasoned beef and sweet onions. Clouds of steam parade the dish from the kitchen, and it is still sizzling from the fire. “When I bring it out to them, their faces light up,” Shita states, gleaming.
Ethiopia is famous for its coffee, and for good reason. The sweet, pure, aroma of fresh brewed Ethiopian coffee beans is hard to ignore. There is a coffee ceremony traditional to Ethiopian culture, and it is performed at Zagol, by the chef herself. According to what Shita was taught as a child, the coffee ceremony originated long ago when the women in the villages stayed home while the men went to work. Early every morning, the women would prepare the coffee in clay pots, hand-grinding and roasting the beans, releasing decadent aromas that filled the air. Once the men had finished their cup of coffee and left for work, the women would gather whatever sewing or cotton they were working on that day, bring the coffee, and meet in the village to gossip together and have a good time. The idea of gathering to have a good time with the best of friends is what kept the tradition alive.
“No one goes to bed hungry”
Zagol reflects some of the amazing qualities of Ethiopian culture. “In my country, there are no babysitters. There are no senior homes. Nobody needs that. Your family and neighbors are there. Everybody helps everybody. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is. It doesn’t matter if you are related, or a complete stranger. If you need something, they will give it to you, even if it was all they had. If you go to someone’s door, they will bring you in, make you comfortable, and feed you. No one goes to bed hungry.”
“Amet Bal. It means holiday and family and food and all the joy.”
When dining at Zagol, be prepared for a flavor-packed, family-friendly cultural experience. All of the dishes are presented on traditional Injera bread. There is no silverware, because the bread acts as a wrap, to scoop up the items by hand. ﾠThe best way to get a full taste is to bring a few friends. The meal is shared, so the more people there are, the more choices can be ordered. Every day is treated like a family holiday at Zagol. “It’s my favorite. Amet Bal. It means holiday and family and food and all the joy.”
Zagol is an inviting place to bring friends and family, enjoy time together, and dine on delicious food. Shita cannot wait to meet you!
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HERE ARE SOME OTHER ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANTS
OUR STORY Co-owners Ash Nega and Titi Demissie were both born and raised in Ethiopia. The two met later in life in Atlanta and instantly knew they would be a team forever. A few years later, Ash had a dream and a clear vision of Desta. His wife, Titi, faithfully and passionately dedicated herself to implementing the idea. The couple decided to start small and focus on what was important within their business model: authentic flavors, high quality ingredients, organization, cleanliness, speed and great service. After a lot of planning and hard work, Desta Ethiopian Kitchen opened its doors on July 1st, 2006. At the time, the restaurant served 8 people ﾖ 4 seated at a table and 4 standing at a counter top. Now, with the capacity to serve 250 guests, Desta continues to shock first time visitors. After multiple expansions, they have held tightly to their values, authenticity and excellent business model. Fusing Ethiopian culture with modern business tactics, Desta Ethiopian Kitchen is truly a unique experience.
AWASH ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT OPENED AUGUST 28TH, 2017 IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF MIAMI GARDENS. THE RESTAURANT WAS FOUNDED BY FOUAD WASSEL AND HIS WIFE EKA WASSEL. The restaurant encompasses a traditional Ethiopian “Gojo bait” (country style home) environment. The interior features a center piece commonly found in a gojo home, designed by Fouad himself. Fouad and Eka have been developing this concept for 15 years, creating a welcoming atmosphere featuring a shop with rare Ethiopian spices, coffee, and tea alongside a decorative bar featuring imported Ethiopian beer and wine, Ethiopian art, traditional music, and a coffee ceremony occurring Friday, Saturday, and Sundays. The name Awash derives from a river found in Ethiopia. The river is signifigant to the country because it travels throughout Ethiopia, never leaving its borders and remaining a source to the Ethiopian people.ﾠ
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