Brisbane has become home to a diverse range of multicultural dining options in recent years. While we may be familiar with Italian, Mexican and Thai meals, a restaurant in West End provides a taste of a part of the world we don’t normally get to experience.
Mu’ooz Eritrean Restaurant is set-up as a not-for-profit social enterprise that has employed over 96 refugee women in the past seven years, with 97 per cent of these women still in employment. These statistics are pretty impressive for any organisation, let alone one that serves up some extremely tasty food to boot.
Starters on the menu include enjera bread with traditional dips, which is a great way to begin an African food journey. The enjera bread is like a thin, sour bread pancake, but is still light and fluffy and a great accompaniment to both dips and stews. Each of the dips were infused with aromatic herbs that were interesting and very moreish.
Also on the starters menu are hand-made spring rolls full of fresh vegetables and lentils. These spring rolls again had a distinct North African taste to them with thanks to the use of traditional herbs and spices.
The mains menu comprises a selection of stews and curries for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. These are served with rice or enjera bread, depending on your carb of choice.
We tried a range of stews, including one with slow cooked goat, onion, garlic, capsicum, green chilli and herbs. This gamey dish was incredibly rich and tasty with an excellent blend of flavours.
Also on offer was a tender lamb stew, sautéed in tasame (a flavoured ghee) with red onion, capsicum, garlic, ginger, rosemary and green chillies. Some highly flavoursome chicken and beef options were available as well.
From the vegetarian list, the Duba pumpkin stew with Berbere spices, onion, tomatoes and garlic was surprisingly good. It came out looking like plain mashed pumpkin, but one mouthful made me realise how wrong I was. Berberé is a spice mixture which usually includes chili, garlic, ginger, basil, rue, korarima, ajwain, nigella, and fenugreek. Such spices absolutely made this dish which was a pick of the night.
Eritrea was an Italian colony in the past, and this influence was seen in the desserts on offer. We tried the panna cotta with cinnamon and coffee, which had a strong coffee bean taste. There was minimal sugar added to this dessert, making it unique compared to the panna cottas of places that serve pasta. While it may not be as sweet as some people would expect, it was a lovely creamy way to finish off a meal.
Mu’ooz also freshly roasts its own Eritrean coffee beans, with the smell permeating the restaurant at certain times. The coffee is served in a small cup and is strong, full-bodied and slightly sweet without being at all bitter.
A taste of North Africa is just at our doorstep.
Mu’ooz Eritrean Restaurant is located at 54 Mollison St, West End and is open for lunch from Tuesday to Saturday and dinner from Monday to Saturday.