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When Eritrean-born Kesete Yohannes and his family opened Asmara in Oakland’s Temescal district more than 20 years ago, theirs was the only restaurant in the ’hood. These days, the Temescal is home to all kinds of tasty ethnic fare, but Asmara is still a local favorite—a welcoming, no-frills kind of place. The restaurant serves traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes such as rich, spicy doro wat (cubes of chicken cooked in a brick-red pepper sauce), vegetarian entrées such as kik alicha (a polentalike puree of yellow lentils), and tibsy fitfit (a dish of injera, the spongy, slightly sour, crepelike bread soaked in a piquant beef sauce). Enjoy a family-style platter of food with your friends, eat with your fingers Ethiopian style (plastic forks are available on request), and wash it all down with tej (a sweet honey wine) or potent Ethiopian coffee. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun.
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