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Above: Khanh Hoang, owner of Company of Khanh.
The first time I ever had Ethiopian food was in a tiny space above a home near Bahari Beach in Tanzania. Exhausted, having just arrived and being introduced to the people I would be helping implement better HIV/AIDS programs in East Africa, I was irritated.
My luggage had been lost, I was diverted into Kuwait for 14 hours, held in Dubai for another 18 hours, and the moment I stepped into my bedroom, I was being whisked away into the brush by a buncha volunteers in a taxi driven by a guy who insisted he be called “Biggie” (and eventually became the house’s go-to drug dealer and a good friend).
I couldn’t have asked for a better reliever than that of Ethiopian food. Communal, rich, and eschewing utensils, eating Ethiopian food becomes an experience–and rightfully so. You’ll often hear, especially if it is your first time, of gursha, an act of friendship or love expressed by feeding others around you with your own hands using injera, a sourdough flat bread that is the base of eating’n’scooping all forms of Ethiopian dishes.
So when asked why Ethiopian food is particularly special to me, it’s because it was a foreign cuisine that made me find a center in a foreign world that I was experiencing through very tired and confused eyes.
One of Hoang’s previous popup dinners.
Distinct and unique, Ethiopian food outside of LA’s famed Little Ethiopia—a stretch of Fairfax in Midtown—has been difficult if not outright impossible to find, especially here in Long Beach. (Minus the amazing home delivery food of Meseret “Mesi” Mekuria, which I still deeply miss.)
Well, until Khanh Hoang, owner of Company of Khanh, has decided to do an Essence of Ethiopia Popup Picnic on a private lawn along the bluff on June 10 at 6PM.
“Recently, I have been energized by different aspects of my community,” Hoang said. “I strive to be part of promoting diversity by doing what I know best; bringing people together with food. Despite working full-time as a nurse, I made a goal to host one popup a season to feel out the needs of my community.”
We couldn’t be more ecstatic. The menu is an array of classic’n’common items of Ethiopian cuisine:
- Yeqey Sir Qiqqil: Marinated and delicately spiced beets tossed in a simple tangy dressing
- Gomen: Collard greens fragrantly cooked in onions and jalapenos with hints of ginger and allspice
- Yatakilt Alicha: Cabbage, carrots and potatoes sautéed with infused niter qibe (aromatic ghee)
- Shiro Wat: Flavorful curried stew cooked with spiced chickpea seasoning
- Yater Kik Alicha: Creamy yellow split peas simmered with onions and savory spice
- Salata: Raw, crispy vegetables gently tossed with lime vinaigrette
- Misir Wat: Spicy red lentils curried with berbere spice
- Duro Wat Chicken: Tender pieces of chicken braised in robust berbere spice, garlic, and ginger jus
- with sliced hard boiled eggs
- Ye’Assa Tibs: Market fresh fish checkered cut and fried in grapeseed oil
Tickets are $45 per person. To RSVP, email [email protected]