Imaan East African Restaurant – Calgary, AB

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

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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!

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