The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Makeda, Mitsuwa, and Otto


[breathe in, breathe out, just like they do in lamaze, or something]

This entry may not make the top ten/hundred, but here I go anyway.


On Monday I met up with chocolate making extraordinaire Deb at Ethiopian restaurant Makeda for lunch with my mum in tow. I've never brought my mum to a "meet another food blogger" meal before, but she likes food. ...And I suck at driving to places I'm not familiar with (probably not that good at driving to places I am familiar with), which was the main reason I needed her to come along. Besides that I love her so very much!

The spacious, wood-accented restaurant only had a few customers, which is too bad because their $9 lunch special is yummy and filling. As for how good it is compared to other Ethiopian food, I have absolutely no idea how it rates. Ethiopian eateries aren't exactly ubiquitous around these parts of suburbia, nor in NYC. At the very least, I can confidently say that in the overly general scheme of "food", it's great stuff and unique if you haven't eaten it before.

meat and two veg
meat and veg

I don't remember exactly what I ordered, but it may have been this:

  • Minchetabesh - Finely shopped prime rib, pan fried with ginger, onion, cardamom and white pepper until golden, then sauteed in Ethiopian's famous Keywat. Hot.
  • Atakilt Wat - Fresh green beans, carrots potatoes, green peppers, cabbage and onions, sauteed with garlic, ginger and tomatoes
  • [insert name] - Damn, I forgot.

Overall impression? All...yummy. I know that's horribly undescriptive, but I'm not going to make something up. They ain't kidding when they say "finely chopped"; it's like meat stew. Which is fine with me. I liked the vegetable portion (right-most item on the plate), but I can't remember what it was, and the pureed quality of it doesn't make it recognizable. At the very least, I can make out the potato and vegetable medly. My ability to recognize flavors is pathetic, so I'll just say that I don't think anyone would find this food too bland or overwhelming. I'd hope that most people would find it interesting and tasty, unless they're insanely unadventurous.

While you could ask for silverware, you're supposed to pick up the food by using the included injera, a spongy, flat sourdough bread that soaks in all the saucy goodness. You don't mind getting your hands a little messy, right? I mean, you will wash them. Eventually. I hope. They give you napkins to wipe your hands with before and after the meal if you're concerned about that. Aside from a splodgey big of overly soaked injera in the middle of my plate, I chowed down everything. Unfortunately, it's the Robyn way.

four veg

Deb and my mum ordered the same thing (or rather, my mum ordered the same thing as Deb). They also both used forks. LIKE TWINS, THEY ARE!

The Ultimate White Chocolate Mousse Cake
white chocolate mousse cake

Although the dessert menu is about as Ethiopian as I am, my mum and I topped off our already stuffed bellies with mousse cakes with surprisingly awesome results. My "Ultimate White Chocolate Mousse Cake" consisting of "pure white chocolate and whipped heavy cream over a buttery cookie crust, topped with swirls of ganache" was as good as it sounds (the assumption being that it sounds damn good). The texture was "medium"—not too heavy or light, kind of like a cheesecake, but instead of the slightly tangy cheesecake flavor that fails to capture my sweet-lovin' heart, it just filled my mouth with smooth, sweet, vanilla white chocolate-ness. Awesome, really. I'd want to eat it again.

Chocolate Mousse
chocolate mousse cake

The description of my mum's chocolate mousse cake, "a very light chocolate mousse with an oreo crust and topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings", also proved to be truthful. The texture was lighter than my cake and it had a smooth chocolate flavor that wasn't too sweet or bitter. My mum declared it the best chocolate mousse cake she's ever had! Check out Deb's blog for a photo of my smiling mum and her cake chunk. ;)

Great entrees, sinfully tasty desserts, friendly service, and a cool environment make me wish I lived closer than a 90-minute drive to Makeda. [sigh] Thanks to Deb for the suggestion and for giving my my mum and I a box of her adorable chocolates.


You can buy Deb's Delectables for yourself. Hell, you can buy a box of 100 chocolates in a special box that comes with a freakin' handle so that you can lug your chocs to your secret "chocolate gorging" location in that secluded cave in the woods (as opposed to the non-secluded one)...yeah, I can see you.

Not creepy. Not creepy at all.

Mitsuwa steals my non-Japanese heart

On Sunday I met up with Steph at my most beloved NJ spot, Mitsuwa. It's a piece of Japan that longs to cross the Hudson into NY, but is instead stuck in NJ. Like most things in NJ.

out..tards? katsu!
katsu time

Who doesn't like katsu, the golden, delicious deep fried foodstuffs, the antithesis to sushi (or one of em), the surefire way to make your salivary glands do that "drooling" thing? I DON'T KNOW. I got some kind of yam chunk thing and Stephanie went with pork (or chicken...well, they look the same after they've been fried in cutlet form). I'd say skip the yam unless you like pseudo-slimy gelatinous chunks armored in a crunchy shell, but at least it had the crunchy shell to make me forget about the pseudo-slimy gelatinous chunks.


I ate a red bean donut from St. Honore Bakery for dessert while Steph went for the less guilt-inducing fruit danish. Unlike American filled donuts I've had in the past (all three of em), the Japanese donut had a more substantial, chewier dough. The red bean filling was also thicker than a standard donut filling, such as jelly or cream. Japanese donut wins over regular American donut in my case, but my love for red bean paste has a bit of influence in that preference. I know some people who don't like red bean paste and to them I say, "STAY AWAY FROM MAH DOOONUT." (The surge of craziness changes "my" to "mah". Don't ask. I have no answers anyway.)

And now for some random photos (of which many more lurk in my flickr account; click on the photos for more info):

EEL!!!!! some noods not available baby flavored bun!!! hot dog
Japanese things

A childhood flashback spurned from the deep, oh-so-squishy depths (indeed, in deep spaces you will find depths) of my brain when I spotted these "chu-chu" bars. Who else ate these as a kid? You stick these artificially flavored/colored liquid-plastic tube-filled (methinks those words weren't combined correctly, but I'm no English professor so it doesn't matter!) in the freezer and take them out (after they' know, solidified) when you want a cool treat. Break em in half and suck out the icy goop for MEGA FUNS.

amino value
amino value?

I just liked the name of that drink. For all those times I need 2000 mg of BCAA or whatever the hell is in this drink.

spaghetti sandwich
double the carbs, double the funs

Ever wanted to eat spaghetti with your hands? Man, who doesn't?...don't answer that. Whether or not you give a crap, the solution is here: carbs wrapped in carbs! I love Japan.

wuvluv HAHAHAHAHA!@#$%

You need to click on those photos for a larger view. Trust me. They fill me with odd joy and laughter from my disturbed inner child.



Last Friday I ate at Otto with Jennifer with the goal of eating tasty food and getting a little interview out of me. :] If you like tomato, mozzerella, anchovy, capers, and chiles, then OH BOY, this pizza is for you!

...Actually, it's for me. I ate it. Hopefully it passed through my digestive system by now.

Otto is one of my favorite pizza places for their ability to make the thinnest, crispiest crust I've ever chomped on. I know it's not the "best" pizza in NY, buy hey, I'm still making the pizzeria rounds. Besides that I love the crust and toppings, I consider the smallish size a plus as it means I can eat the whole pie without feeling like a beached whale.

chocolate budino
chocolate budino

However, not everything is a satisfying size at Otto. Check out Jennifer's chocolate budino (chocolate hazelnut pudding with whipped cream) in its comically tiny cup. The size would make sense if the pudding had the chocolate density of an atomic bomb, but it was simply regular chocolate density pudding in a small cup. The pudding was good—smooth, texture like a thick mousse, don't remember much about the flavor besides that it was chocolate hazelnut—but the $4.50 price tag for what looked like a pudding shot made it underwhelming.


Upon my waiter's suggestion, I ordered the "coconut gelato, lime curd, strawberry granita, coconut tapioca and pineapple" parfait. For $9, it's twice as much as the pudding shot and definitely more worth the moolah, although still not as satisfying as a simple three-flavor $7 gelato cup. I'd suggest getting unadulturated gelato over anything else, as Otto's gelato is really awesome (for those of us who haven't been to Italy, at least), but the parfait is also worth trying. The granita was more like fresh strawberry jam than what I thought would be more sorbet-like and the smooth lime curd was just strong enough without being throat-cloggingly acidic.

...But I want olive oil gelato. Mm. Yes.

Thanks to Jennifer for joining me and going where no blogger has gone interviewing me in real life. I'd expound upon the questions here, but I have to go to sleep and wake up in less than six hours. Damn. You can google the addresses yourself, right? Goodie.


Tim / August 9, 2006 4:33 AM

Ah! The famous pasta-in-bread. My favorite variation had noodles, red roast pork in hoisin-type sauce and breadcrumbed and fried bacon. All for 125 yen ($1?). One of those for breakfast and you're sorted for carbs all morning. Or until you see a bakery, whichever comes soonest.

Japan is truly the land unafraid to put anything into a bun. Best bun ever: Octopus bread (Takopan). A sweet bun containing octopus in okonomiyaki sauce with a hard-boiled quail egg. Topped with more okonomiyaki sauce and bonito. Mmmmm.

Adalmin / August 9, 2006 5:54 AM

Why is it that the Japanese are always faster at adopting ridiculously awesome combinations like spaghetti wrapped inna bun?

Even Elvis Presley (the guy who fried peanut butter and bacon sandwiches) can't top that.

But wait! In Britain they have fried Mars Bars. Japan and America are bound to surrender to fried British chocolatey goodness.

What the hell am I talking about I don't know.

Josh / August 9, 2006 8:20 AM

That spongy Ethiopian bread is more also called Injera. It's made from an imported flour usually known as teff, which up until recently had to be imported from Ethiopia or Somalia. Now...if you want the abosolute best Ethiopian food in the world, if you are ever in Vancouver Canada visit Addis Cafe on Fourth and Commercial. It's run by Tesfa and Frey two of the kindest people I have ever met in my life.

Rose / August 9, 2006 9:48 AM

There's good ethiopian food in Hell's Kitchen. Around 47th street and 10th ave. I love japanese products, too cute.

roboppy / August 9, 2006 11:25 AM

Tim: Whoa, your noodle/pork/bacony (two pig meats!) sandwich sounds intense. And delicious. The takopan sounds good too and I don't like squid that much. Waah, I wannit.

Adalmin: I dunno what I talk about most of the time either! Wee!

Something unique about Japanese food in my opinion (or Japanese culture overall) is that they have no problem adapting things from other cultures and making them...Japanese. Or something. Like spaghetti in a bun. :)

How about fried chocolate bar in a bun? Would that work? Hm.

Josh: I would hope that the Ethiopian food in Ethiopia is also good. ;) Problem being that they have all those food

The waitress told us that they got their teff from Ethiopia. Mmm, yummy teff.

Rose: So much food I need to try in HK. :| If I lived or worked in the area I'd definitely go, hehe. JAPANESE STUFF IS THE CUTEST!

Daisy / August 9, 2006 12:12 PM

Hey would you mind if I used part of this picture ( in a blog layout? :) I'd credit you hehe. It's so beautiful. :D And those pictures of mousse are awesome. I love mousse! lol

maria~ / August 9, 2006 12:36 PM

Wow! Yummy! I was supposed to go to an Ethiopian place for lunch too this past week but I had to cancel due to boyfriend's sickness (damn boyfriend!!!). Anyway, Otto looks awesome! I also luuurve really thin crust pizza. Being in Chicago, it's quite difficult to find a good super-thin crust pizza with the 2nd City deep dish pizza pride and what-not. Boo!

timelas / August 9, 2006 1:08 PM

OTTO make me think of Heat, where they all the chefs think the pizza sucks but for some reason the place is full every night. Nothing like a little celebrity to make a successful restaurant!

Ani / August 9, 2006 1:44 PM

Mmmm Ethiopian!!! You know if you eat the bread to much it will give you a tummy ache. Something about the dough expanding.

William / August 9, 2006 2:43 PM

Deb makes some lovely chocolates, especially the butterflies in the spring box.
And have I ever mentioned how utterly jealous I am of your photography? Probably not, but I am. Not just jealous - utterly jealous.

roboppy / August 9, 2006 3:18 PM

Maria: I guess NY has the opposite problem where it's difficult to find good deep dish pizza. ;) I'd like to try Chicago pizza someday.

tim: Oops, I don't remember that part in Heat. :O While "researching" Otto, I found plenty of people who didn't like their food...and some that did. Like me! :D I kept my expectations low the first time I went (for the pizza; I expected the gelato to be awesome) and was surprised when I ended up loving it. My problem with most pizza places is that the crust is limp. It seems so hard to find a good crust! :(

Deb: Oops, corrected!

Ani: If I eat too much of anything (especially bread of any kind) then I'll probably feel a bit achey. .__. Today I think some spices did a number on my belly. Eek.

Wiliam: Now imagine a 100 piece box! EH, EH?!?!

Utterly! No need to be jealous; if you want to join the fun and make a $700+ hole in your wallet, feel free. ;) (And this is why I'm working, right?...right!) But it's worth it if you take like...500000 photos a day. And you want to capture every bit of the chocolate's beauty

Tychen / August 9, 2006 3:23 PM

Mitsuwa! My family and I go there all the time. I don't know if you've ever had this in Taiwan, but there's Mister Donut there and it's AMAZING. I believe that the donuts in Asia (or at least in Taiwan and Japan) it's all about the "Q Q"-ness, aka. chewy-ness of it all. Yuummm...

I gotta say, Ethopian, Japanese, Italian. Quite a unique mix. Yay for ethnic foods.

Angel / August 9, 2006 6:14 PM

Why is yout blog so entertaining? I gain twelve pounds just reading your entries! So, I'd thought I'd stop by and say hi. Thanks for the delicious entertainment! =)

Now I'm hungry. :(

piccola / August 9, 2006 10:53 PM

I guess you're not on your fruitarian diet anymore...

Re: Ethiopian food and the "eating with your hands" thing - it's long been my test to take a date to an Ethiopian place and see how they react. If someone is too squeamish to share food and eat with their hands, it's a bad sign.

roboppy / August 10, 2006 12:05 AM

Tychen: I've been going to Mitsuwa/Yaohan ever since I was born!...kinda. I dunno if my parents took me there as a baby, but I remember going when I was weeee little.

I never tried Mister Donut, unfortunately. If they were open when I lived in Taiwan (about 9 years ago?), then I must not have cared for donuts. BUT OMG MISTER DONUT I LOVE THEE...for the cuteness. Can't wait to experience it for myself. :)

Angel: I gained twelve pounds by ...ahem, "researching" my entries. ;) Okay, not twelve yet, but over time, god knows. I feel like a humanesque blob right now. [sniff]

piccola: The all-fruit diet ended a while ago...can't say I was ever one it for a long time, haha. A few days at first just to flush things out and then it was off and on. This is a "bad" week for fruit in that I'm eating all my meals out of the house with people who want to eat STUFF! Probably not a banana.

People must be willing to share! And not be a germaphobe.

jo / August 10, 2006 1:43 AM

I did have those "chu chu" things when I was little; it must have been a long time ago because I can't really remember where I had them, probably my grandmother's house in Taipei.

yellow_mustard_girl / August 10, 2006 3:21 AM

mmm delicious ethiopian. I could subsist on those little rolled up hand towel bread thingies alone. then again, I could probably just subsist on hand towels. I eat lots of things, is what I'm trying to say.
Oh, how I love your blog. but you need to stay in your ditch or whatever of blog posts yet to be posted because I can't freaking keep up!! Some of us have to WORK you know! We don't have all day to be reading all of your addictive and entertaining posts. THINK OF YOUR FANS.

Just kidding.
YMG :)

paul / August 10, 2006 10:05 AM

wheres the love for the korean food? i just ate a plate of sashimi 2 days ago, sooo good.

roboppy / August 10, 2006 10:21 PM

jo: I only remember eating them a few during a holiday or visit to someone else's house, which probably made it more special. Also, my health conscious mum probably wouldn't let me buy something so brightly colored. Of course, artificial coloring just makes things more appealing to little kids. "MM, BRIGHT PINK!"

YMG: I understand eating lots of things. [nod nod]

Don't worry, I'll eat less at some point (god, please be soon, my stomach can't take this) and you won't have to struggle to keep up. :)

paul: Not much Korean around my area, unforunately. (At least not to K-Town-like density.) Or maybe it's not that good. Honestly, I wouldn't know what's good or bad, so maybe I should just eat whatever Korean food I can find. There used to be this little Korean stand inside another deli run by this adorable Korean grandmother (my assumption was that she was a grandmother) but the whole place close down. Aw. I hope she's still cooking somewhere.

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