Assab Eritrean Cuisine

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2845 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA, USA
Assab Eritrean Cuisine - Veggie combo & meat combo family-style plate (photo by Steph P. on - till I take my own photos)
Assab Eritrean Cuisine - Sambusa (photo from Fallopian Swim Team D. on - till I take my own photos)
Assab Eritrean Cuisine - Assab dining area (photo from Fallopian Swim Team D. on - till I take my own photos)
Assab Eritrean Cuisine - Assab Restaurant (photo from Toro D. on - till I take my own photos)

Assab Eritrean Cuisine San Francisco Reviews

leah151 leah151
30 reviews
Dec 18, 2007
Having tried Eritrean and Ethiopian restaurants throughout San Francisco and the East Bay, I can state with all assurance that Assab is by far the best! Of all the places I've been to, some have been better than others but no one compares to Assab. The cook, Mehret, has some kind of special magic she puts into her cooking. If not magic, then much love goes into it. The first thing you notice when you walk in to the restaurant is an overpowering aroma of spices that immediately gets your mouth watering. The simple but warm atmosphere takes over as you're greeted and seated by Matheos while traditional East African music plays softly in the background with its quick, rhythmic tempo that gets you wiggling in your seat while you study your menu.

Though I've not sampled every item on the menu, everything I've tried has been extraordinary. At first bite, you practically tingle with delight at the burst of flavor that hits your taste buds and overtakes your senses. Think I'm being dramatic here? Try it and prove me wrong! Having tried many of the menu items, a favorite has been etched out and often, I call up ahead of arrival and say 'the usual' so we can show up and begin the feasting. When we say this, Matheos knows to order up both the veggie and meat sambusa, the veggie combo and the zigni.

Sambusas are the Eritrean equivalent of a 'hot pocket' but way better. The veggie sambusa is packed full of carrots, peas, jalapeno and a spiced clarified butter that combined, just melts in your mouth. The meat sambusa is filled with ground beef and spices such as basil that really stands out. Some days it really has a spicy kick and other days it's more mild, but excellent every time. The veggie combo offers okra (fantastic even if you think you don't like okra) and zucchini samples, both in a zesty tomato-based sauce, and a hearty potato, cabbage & carrot dish. Each offering has a traditional name that I don't remember at the moment but they are not to be missed. The zigni is like a thick, spicy beef stew that comes with plain yogurt to dip it in. The yogurt helps to cool some of the spiciness as well as bring out the flavor in the zigni. Even if you aren't a big beef eater (as I'm typically not), you may still fall for this dish! With every order comes two different types of lentils and spinach greens on the side, all of which add more deliciousness to the meal. And of course, no Eritrean meal would be complete without the injera bread. For those unfamiliar, it is sort of a cross between a pancake, a crepe and a tortilla. It's a spongey, flat bread with a mild sourdough taste to it. The bread is torn off in manageable pieces, wrapped around whatever morsel of food you want to pick off the plate and happily stuffed in your mouth. Half the fun of this is eating the traditional way, with your hands! Of course, if you want to be a sissy about it, they'll give you a fork, but not before they lightheartedly kid you about it!

All menu items can be served individually or family style. Family style puts everything on one large plate for everyone to share and is truly the traditional way it's done. On average, you'll pay $8 - $10 per entree, $2 - $5 for appetizers and $5 for a glass of wine (much less for tea or sodas).

Speaking of wine, one final recommendation I have if you aren't a teetotaller is, try the honey wine, traditionally known as 'tej'! In fact, try a whole bottle. The East Bay producer and distributor where Assab gets their tej from makes the BEST I've ever encountered! I've never tasted such an amazing wine.

So, although part of me wants to keep this place a secret so I'll never have trouble being seated, I think everyone should know what authentic Eritrean cuisine tastes like. This is the best I've tried and now, I'm hooked like an addict and need a fix at least every couple months if not more often. I guarantee once you go, you'll be hooked too!
Veggie combo & meat combo family-s…
Sambusa (photo from Fallopian Swim…
Assab dining area (photo from Fall…
Assab Restaurant (photo from Toro …
Tessagirl23 says:
oops pressed the submit by mistake...cont. food with a friend. He was visiting. We were discussing what to eat. He came out with let's try Ethiopian. I was like sure. Being in San Francisco, they have a whole lot of different kinds of foods from around the world, we looked for one. We didn't go to this restaurant but I have to admit, me being picky with food, it was good. From that point on, I've been pretty open with different kinds of food to a certain extent.
Posted on: Jan 13, 2008
Tessagirl23 says:
I tried Ethiopian
Posted on: Jan 13, 2008
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