New York – The Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in New York was featured at the first Choice Eats tasting event organized by The Village Voice, the nation’s first and largest alternative news weekly. The event took place on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 at the historic Puck Building in Manhattan.
Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant was one of thirty-three favorite restaurants of Voice food critic Robert Sietsema, author of Secret New York. Sietsema has reviewed more than 2,000 restaurants in the last 14 years and this year’s Choice Eats cover samples from all corners of the world.
Among those dishing out delicious and eclectic cuisine was Philipos Mengistu, owner and Executive Chef of Queen of Sheba, and his wife, Sara. For the event, they prepared injera rolls with fillings of either spicy lentil or beef sauces. Eager tasters waited patiently in rows to pick up the wraps. In it’s description of the Queen of Sheba restaurant, the event publication wrote: “New York finally has its own Queen of Sheba, providing intriguing and sometimes fiery spice combinations.”
More than a thousand foodies packed the Puck Building for a tasting extravaganza, according to The Village Voice.
Other culinary delights hailed from The Dominican Republic, South Africa, Belgium, and Australia. For a complete list of participants at the VillageVoice’s Choice Eats event you may visit their website at: www.choice-eats.com
On Thursday, April 26, the audience in the Cellar Kitchen at Macy’s Herald Square, the world’s largest store, received an important lesson in cooking up flavorful Ethiopian dishes from Philipos Mengistu, owner and Executive Chef of Queen of Sheba restaurant in New York City.
Philipos demonstrated why crowds are flocking to his midtown Manhattan eatery. He was assisted by his wife Sara and Asiana Blount, manager of Macy’s Herald Square Special Events, and the staff at Macy’s Culinary Council.
NEW YORK — On the wall of the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen stands a mural depicting the Queen’s visit to King Solomon centuries ago. The queen, known as Mekeda, arrived in Jerusalem bearing gifts of previously unknown spice from the mysterious foreign land. Below the mural late Saturday night, Ethiopia’s modern queen was being feted for making her own history and bringing her own spice to New York.
Meseret Defar‘s historic run at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island hours earlier established a world record for 5,000 meters. With a blistering 61-second final lap, the defending Olympic champion finished in 14 minutes, 24.53 seconds, breaking the mark set by Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse (born Ethiopian and changed her nationality to Turkish recently) two years ago by a scant .13 seconds. Defar’s feat made her the first runner to break a world record in a certified distance event (1,500 meters to 10,000 meters) on U.S. soil since Henry Rono broke the mark in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in Seattle in 1978. Defar, 22, wasn’t even alive.
Conversation loosened as the hours passed and the women began teasing one another for having slow kicks and flawed running form. Defar sipped only once during a champagne toast in her honor and then stood up to join in an impromptu eskista, a gyrating shoulder dance for which good form is surely beside the point. As several male teammates began clapping and getting into the rhythms of Amharic pop tunes, another woman began waving an Ethiopian flag behind the revelers as men from the bar clapped a chorus and feted the young legend before them.
Defar probably needed to negative-split her celebrations. After a weekend of training and sleeping, Defar and her team planned to loosen the discipline to enjoy a New York excursion. “We are going shopping,” she said. “I will buy anything I might like.”
That’s heady progress for the girl who began running in shoes her older brother would outgrow and discard because her family in Addis was too scrapped for money. “Fifty people in this restaurant will remember what she did here and remember this night forever,” Philipos Mengistu, the restaurant’s owner and chef, said in the wee hours of Sunday morning. “It’s a small world, but now the world is hers.”
The Ethiopian restaurant Queen of Sheba offers unique, exotic meals in a relaxed setting. Delicious vegetarian, chicken, lamb, beef, fish are available at bargain prices. A great New York find! 650 Tenth Ave. (btw. 45-46 Sts.), 212-397-0610.
GOOD EATING; Out of Africa
February, which is Black History Month, is a good time to explore the exotic foods at these often overlooked African restaurants…
With its brick and ocher walls and good-looking crowd, Queen of Sheba is one of the more inviting Ethiopian restaurants in New York. And the food is pretty good, too: beef and lamb stews flavored with a rousing dark-red hot sauce, and wonderful vegetarian dishes seasoned with complex spice blends….”
Taste of the Month
“WHAT’S THE MOST EXOTIC TABLE where editors have sat down recently? The mesob (traditional basketwork table) at Queen of Sheba. We went totally native at this Ethiopian storefront, breaking off shreds of injera, a spongybuck wheat bread, and scooping up delicacies like azifa (green lentils onions and chili peppers). Tibs wot was an adventure; think morsels of beef spiced to the nth degree with peppery berbere sauce. We also tried kitfo Ethiopian steak tartar and doro wot, a zesty stew containing chicken legs and whole hard boiled-eggs. Aromatic cinnamon-infused tea carried us through the meal. If you need help in ordering, ask owner and chef Philipos Mengistu who is as gracious a host and as adept a cook as your are likely to find along the length and breadth of Tenth Avenue. “
“Ethiopian immigrants must be among the nation’s canniest restaurateurs. Though numbering only 33,000 nationwide, they’ve assembled an impressive collection of restaurants in major American cities: Washington boasts 17, Seattle 11, and New York 12, plus a pair of Eritrean joints. Many share an assortment of predictable names like Blue Nile, Red Sea, Queen of Sheba, and Meskerem (the joyous first month of the Coptic Christian calendar), though none seems part of a chain. Sadly, they also mount nearly identical menus of brick-colored meat stews and hard-to-differentiate pulse purees. Between the intriguing and sometimes fiery spice combinations and the chance to eat with your fingers without your parents lurking around to scold you, most of these places are pretty appealing anyway. But Ethiopian cooking is much broader.
New York finally has its own Queen of Sheba, recently opened in Hell’s Kitchen around the corner from Meskerem, the city’s best Ethiopian. With some excitement, I found myself scanning the menu for oddities that would expand New York’s repertoire of Abyssinian dishes. Kategna ($4.59) is nearly unique, a warm appetizer of toasted injera flooded with gritty chile butter. It’s scrumptious, and stains your fingers a flattering shade of red. Kategna is a favorite breakfast back home, much the way we toast stale Wonder. Dabo ($3.25) is another revelation, a dense semolina bread cut in cakelike squares and dotted with black nigella seeds, proving that Ethiopian cooks can wield the yeast cake with the best of them. It’s served with a dense dipping sauce that’s a moisturized version of berbere, the country’s signature chile powder, which contains as many as 20 other trace ingredients, notably fenugreek, cardamom, ginger, and rue seed…”
At Long Last, New Yorkers’ Appetites Are Ready for Ethiopia
“The brick and ocher walls glowed softly in the low lights, the place was packed with a good-looking crowd, and the chef was making the rounds, kissing familiar faces and asking if everybody was happy. But nobody at this new restaurant was praising the foie gras or the tuna steak. Here at Queen of Sheba, which opened just a week ago in Clinton, the crowd had turned out for fine Ethiopian fare: beef and lamb stews flavored with a rousing dark-red hot sauce, and wonderful vegetarian dishes seasoned with complex spice blends, all eaten not with forks but with pieces of injera, a spongy flat bread with the enticing flavor of sourdough.
The brick and ocher walls glowed softly in the low lights, the place was packed with a good-looking crowd, and the chef was making the rounds, kissing familiar faces and asking if everybody was happy. But nobody at this new restaurant was praising the foie gras or the tuna steak. Here at Queen of Sheba, which opened just a week ago in Clinton, the crowd had turned out for fine Ethiopian fare: beef and lamb stews flavored with a rousing dark-red hot sauce, and wonderful vegetarian dishes seasoned with complex spice blends, all eaten not with forks but with pieces of injera, a spongy flat bread with the enticing flavor of sourdough.
Queen of Sheba, though the newest Ethiopian restaurant in New York, was not the only one getting attention last weekend. Ethiopian restaurants around Manhattan were crowded, with mixtures of families, university students, Ethiopians and Jamaicans, many of whom venerate Haile Selassie by his given name, Ras Tafari.
“Popular?” said Philipos Mengistu, the owner and chef of Queen of Sheba. “That’s why I opened in Midtown. The market is there, meaning people are getting addicted.”
For years, Ethiopian restaurants have been relegated to the edges of New York’s restaurant menu, stereotyped as low-priced campus favorites where young people on meager budgets braved squat wooden stools and flimsy tables to scoop up stews with bread and fingers. But slowly, with three new Ethiopian restaurants opening in the last year in Manhattan, this bedeviling image is changing as New Yorkers are opening themselves to the pleasures of this unusual cuisine…”