waaberi - oslo, norway
Rating: 4 / 10
I was sceptical when my friend suggested trying a Somalian restaurant for lunch. Not because I'm a fussy eater but more because I'd never heard anyone start a sentence with "I just ate the most amazing Somalian meal". Upon gentle persuasion, my fears were placated by the fact that it was cheap, quick, and on the way to a birthday party we were attending.
I brushed off my pessimism and walked the long streets haunted with anxiety at being at a social gathering. Covid times had made everything so awkward and complicated, and even the most careful germ-o-phobe lost their inhibitions after a few drinks.
We met in the square out front where North African men sat smoking cigarettes and conversing. It always gave me a slight feeling of being overseas which I greatly enjoyed. The restaurant was quite empty so we took a corner table, sanitized our hands and ordered their special: Suqaar with pasta.
There is a slight excitement brimming when ordering a totally alien dish, judging it only on the badly represented photo-menu. All manner of ideas go through your mind of what spices are used, will it be hot, is this the new best thing?
Fears were laid to rest when the plate appeared, replaced with grave concern. Visually the food did not cause rivulets of saliva to gather in the corners of my mouth ready to envelop the feast. It looked like something you got at a youth camp pot luck. The pasta looked disastrously overcooked, the meat dry and lifeless and the random addition of iceberg lettuce with a slice of lemon was an odd choice.
Unfortunately the looks were not deceiving and it ate like a trial. Mushy pasta with a sweet sauce, dry tough meat with some peppers that was lacking in any zip. If I had to offer one positive, the portion was gigantic for 100 NOK, but in this case I'd rather pay double and give my stomach something it deserved.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
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"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"