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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review: Das = Das is That

Washingtonians are spoiled. We can enjoy cooking from almost every corner of the globe. We have so many choices, in fact, that many of us just take foreign foods for granted. Want Bolivian? Korean? Lao? It’s all here, in one or the other neighborhood. Just take your pick.

DC’s melting pot communities also are chockfull — well, almost — with another cuisine that in most parts of the country would be exotic beyond words: Ethiopian. For Washingtonians, not only does the city boast upwards of two dozen Ethiopian restaurants — and that’s just in the city itself — but also it seems each of these Ethiopian eateries commands its own fan base. And one of these, Das Ethiopian Cuisine, is the reincarnation of one of the city’s oldest and most beloved Ethiopian destinations, Zed’s.

Owned by Zed Wondemu, Zed’s was a Georgetown fixture for years, moving from its first location to the current corner spot where Das now serves the burning-hot doro wat with its spongy injera bread lining. Zed made such a name for herself that she even opened a second Zed’s way out in Virginia. But more than one year ago, Zed closed down her eponymous setting, and Das has taken over.

The two-story eatery has the same bright white appeal with linen tablecloths, zany photographs on the wall, and a well-stocked bar on the first floor. Floors at the table, courteous service, and plates filled with worthy Ethiopian food makes Das a good choice for either fancy or formal dining.

Although Ethiopian cuisine is famed for its lusty vegetarian dishes, you should at least include the shrimp appetizer, served with rolls of injera bread (made from the grain known as teff), which is spiked with a zesty sauce and garnished with tomatoes and onions. Expanded, this shrimp Tibs also has its place on the entrée selections, and on a second visit, that would be the main course of the meal.

That, or perhaps the beef Tibs Wot, which are strips of beef simmered in a red pepper sauce. Ethiopians know how to use red chilies to the best effect, and their sauces, while spicy, do not merit a fire hose. Instead, sauces serve to highlight, not overwhelm the main meat of the dish. The entrées, as is customary in Ethiopian restaurants, come scooped on a flat wheel of injera, and with each serving comes a side dish of injera. Why? you may wonder. Best news: Ethiopians eat with their fingers, using the very supple infera bread to pick up bits of meat, poultry, and scoops of veggies.

And yes, this is a very heavily vegetarian cuisine, which the menu plays up with a special veg section: split peas, collards, carrots, eggplants, lentils and assorted combinations will satisfy the most stringent vegetarian diet. Add to that the spicy character of the food. Hard to beat.

Das Ethiopian Cuisine (1201 28th St., NW; (202) 333-4710; www.dasethiopian.com. Hours: Daily, 11am11pm. Entrée price range: $11 – $32.

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.