Imaan East African Restaurant – Calgary, AB

Imaan East African Restaurant
#2, 3218 – 17th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta
Open Sunday-Saturday, 8am-11pm

Imaan East African Restaurant on Urbanspoon

In the quest for great food, sometimes you stick out a bit. Sometimes you stick out a lot. And sometimes, you feel like you’ve been transplanted to another time and place. You get a bit of that awkward feeling – everyone stops and looks at you and wonders why you have disturbed their sanctuary. You feel a bit uneasy and want to politely ask if they speak English, and then you remember that you’re in Canada. I call it Chinese Restaurant Syndrome(CRS).

On my way to lunch, I noticed a new sign up in a nearby strip mall. Imaan. “The taste of ancient kush”. Kush is an ancient region of East Africa, a kingdom of old that occupied the territories that now are Sudan. Not really knowing what Sudanese food was, I decided to stretch my elastic pants and eat a second lunch. On my way back, I stopped in at Imaan – East African “Fine Dining”.

Inside is a restaurant that looks like it drastically needs some work – roughly 2 months old the owner tells me. This is East African Fine Dining done cafeteria style! When we walk in, everyone stops and looks. Speaking something that sounded like Amharic, the owner pops his head out of the kitchen in a bit of surprise, and rushes over to help us out.

We’re handed menus, and he patiently explains some of their cuisine. Kushitic cuisine is very similar to Ethiopean cuisine.And Somali cuisine. East African Cuisine in general is my guess.  They serve it by way of Somalia. Everything is home cooked in the back. And most of the dishes sound vaguely familiar. Anjero, Muufo. We’re told they carry goat. “Try the Spaghetti – it’s good”! Spaghetti comes with anything else on the menu,so i definitely hope it is!

Not wanting to bring myself to a wafer thin moment, i order a side order of Suqaar, which is advertised as Beef and Chicken stew, and some Injera, i mean Anjero. The owner takes off to the back. The food is delivered in African time.

I don’t mean to digress, but for those who have been to Africa, they understand the concept of African time. For those of you who don’t get African time, let’s just say, don’t be in a rush, because really, you have no idea when anything will show up.  It happens when it happens. If you think waiting for an appetizer for an hour is frustrating, you’ve never been to Africa 🙂

Anyway, out comes a monstrous stew and some Anjero, which has a slightly thinner texture than Injera, and not as sour. Im quite happy with it – especially for $5 along with $1.50 for the Anjero. The stew itself is flavourful, and meaty.  Chock full of potato, carrots, and beef, im not 100% sure where the chicken component is (maybe the broth?), but they don’t come in chunks.

Apparently, this is not a monster order, but is a double order – oops.$10, not $5! My friend of significantly less girth had bowed out of secondsies, but they brought him food anyway.

At $10 for the dish, it wasn’t quite the insanely good deal i felt it was. But it was still quite reasonable. And quite tasty. The menu is an interesting mish-mash of food – most holding a very strange appeal to me. Pancakes, Omelets and Liver. Hmm. Ugaali,the local corn meal dish. Called NSima in Malawi, Pap in SA, Sadza in Zim, if it’s anything like NSima or Pap, i’ll pass. Bojiya – bean fritters and pepper – sounds interesting. The Firdhis Sampler looks good – a meal for two with rice, chicken, suqaar, spaghetti, and goat meat with a salad. For $24, this seemed to be the meal of choice among the more… regular crowd. I wish I had a greater appetite to explore, but it just creates more reasons to return.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what to say about Imaan. The food was good. The prices were very reasonable. The owners were friendly. The room was sterile, and we definitely felt out of place. It was a bit uncomfortable being stared at. I guess think of this as a scouting report – and when you’re in the SW, and feeling a bit adventerous, know that there’s a place that you might enjoy more than another burger. Give it a try and report back. We’ll be seeing you just now!

Imaan East African Restaurant on Urbanspoon

10 thoughts on “Imaan East African Restaurant – Calgary, AB

  1. I find that somalian food is so tasty, It’a so good. Everytime I eat somalian food it seems I can’t stop eating. I love it and its great !!!

  2. Hi

    I have been to this resturant plenty of times. These people are very friendly people. And they have the best food east african food in Calgary. I never have the promble with this restrurant. Sametimes I get my food fast depending on how busy it is. I never been started at or been out of place . Yes they do know english and No they arent refugess.

    I think if you do have a promble with the services you should talk to the one of the owners instead writting it in here .
    I reccomed the imaan resturant to everyone . I have never been started at excpet by the custmers. How would you know if you are being started at. Maybe you are the one who is staring at theme .

    From Anna James

  3. Hi Anna James,

    I’ll be honest – im pretty torn at the moment. Part of me says that I should be patient with you, and explain how you’ve misread, misinterpreted, or just flat out misunderstood what i’ve said. Another part of me is sick of getting torn apart for being fair and reporting everything that happened, and for people who pick out negative elements, out of context, and key in on that. Im not sure how i should respond.

    I will try and keep it as impersonal as possible – which i hope was your intent. But that isnt clear to me at this point. And im losing patience.

    1. I liked Imaan.
    2. I liked the service – i believe i stated several times about how friendly and kind the service was. I did not have a problem with the service.
    3. Im glad you sometimes get your food quickly. When i went, it wasnt busy. And i didnt get my food very quickly. I am OK with this. The food was good and worth the wait.
    4. I never said they did not know english, and i never said they were refugees. It’s a preamble. I was discussing what it is like to walk into a very ethnic restaurant as someone who is not of that culture. It happens in almost every kind of very ethnic restaurant. Chinese. Vietnamese. Indian. Caribbean.
    5. Maybe i am the one staring at them, but i sincerely doubt it. Of all my flaws, staring isnt typically one of them. Regardless if it happened to you or not, it happened to me. Your accusations are both baseless, and far too defensive to be someone who has a “customers” focus. We always disclose if we have any relationship outside of a customer-restaurant relationship – do you have anything you would like to admit??
    6. I hope everyone does try Imaan.


  4. Well it seems we all agree the food is good, the service friendly and the timimg could use some work. I am Somali and have been going to Somali restaurants since i can remember and i have to agree people do tend to stare. I dont think its because you were not a Somali but thats just how my people are, curious. I also agree that no matter whther they are busy or not it takes sometime but that is because the food id prepared fresh and the way it is cooked needs specific amount of time. I guess they should mention that if it is a new experience.
    Anna i think you did misunderstand the whole concept of honest reviews and its not an attack but just truthful feedback.
    Personally i hated the food when compared to other restaurants and the place looked dirty when i went there. Sorry >:

    • Faria – Thank you for a fair assessment of the situation. I appreciate the feedback. My question for you is, if Imaan is not as good as other Somali restaurants you’ve been to, can you suggest others you like better?

      I went after they had first opened – and as with many other ethnic restaurants, i have noticed many places that start to lose their “lustre” after a year or so. The fact it looked dirty doesnt surprise me. I think though, based on the number of East Africans i’ve seen there, im surprised you didnt find the food good. What did you not like about it?

  5. Will maybe head here with a few Urbanspoon folks for a group feed in the next couple weeks. I’ve wanted to try it for some time now.

    lol, African time = Caribbean time = North Carolina time…

    I also tend to be very patient when it comes to the time it takes for food to arrive. I’ve been all over the world and apart from say the former Soviet Union where nobody really cared if you were served or not(a problem in some communist countries)I do tend towards freshly made food as the reason for much of the wait in most places.

  6. Pingback: Imaan East African Restaurant review « ChowTown

    • Thanks for the update RuneRider! Had just briefly begun skimmed through your article when I received notice of a pingback to our post. 🙂 Glad we are all in this to share new and often exotic locations!

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