‘I tried the Dalston Ethiopian restaurant that’s one of the best in London where a main costs just £8’ – Ayokunle Oluwalana

As prices soar around us and the cost of living gets increasingly more expensive each day, finding a bargain is always welcome. Whether that be a buy one get one free type of offer or haggling at the market, saving yourself some money is never a bad thing. That’s why when I set out to Dalston after hearing you could get a main for under £10, I had to try it.

Heading to the East London neighbourhood, several big-name establishments and independent shops line Kingsland High Street. As you walk down you would see a McDonald’s, Wingstop and different nationalities of food all daring you to come in. I was completely spoilt for choice but only had one thing on my mind.

As I walked past those establishments, I was greeted by Andu Ethiopian Vegan Cafe. A modest outside with big windows giving you a chance to look inside, Andu’s seems like an unassuming place. As you walk in you are greeted by paintings and photos lining the walls and traditional Ethiopian music helping to set the mood. My socks weren’t knocked off but I came for the food, not the vibe this time around.

READ MORE: ‘I went to London’s best rated Indian restaurant on Tripadvisor and ended up sitting opposite Vanessa Feltz’

It was pretty empty on a Friday afternoon but that’s never a bad thing

There were only a few people in when I got in and getting a seat was not a problem. There is one menu, offering ‘Sampler’ or ‘Traditional’. My curiosity peaked because that did confuse me, no doubt.

I asked the employee and she explained that the food is the same in both cases but with the Sampler, you get rice and with the Traditional you get bread. As a man who eats way too much rice in the first place, I did the smart thing and chose to have the Sampler. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The food was quickly brought out (a slight concern) but I was instantly impressed. A big bowl of rice accompanied by four different bowls waiting for me to dig in. The options included chickpeas, spinach, split peas, green beans and carrots, red lentils and cabbage and potatoes. It instantly dawned on me that I may have taken on more than I could handle.

The menu shows 6 different options to be included, sadly for me, I only got 4

The menu shows 6 different options to be included, sadly for me, I only got 4

The smells were wonderful and helped prepare me for the taste. I picked up my spoon and plunged it into my rice and went straight for the chickpeas, making sure I got a healthy ratio of chickpeas to rice. I was instantly impressed and it went down a treat.

I could have simply had a bowl of the chickpeas and been happy. The cabbage and potatoes were my second favourite as the greens helped make me feel less guilty for what was a healthy meal in the first place.

My least favourite was the sauce. I would assume it was the red lentils but it left a taste in my mouth that I didn’t expect and was not a fan of. However, the combination of chickpeas, green cabbage and potatoes was enough to please me. Everything else became a bonus. As I looked at the menu again, six different meals were meant to be included in the Sampler but I only got four. I don’t know the reason for that but maybe six would have been too much for one person.

When I got the Sampler for £8, my first thought was 'how am I possibly going to finish it?'

When I got the Sampler for £8, my first thought was ‘how am I possibly going to finish it?’

Sadly for me, I wasn’t even able to finish it due to the rice running out. An age-old problem, never having enough rice for a meal. In this case, one bowl for four different samplers was never going to work. I looked on into the distance as I realised I was going to have to leave my chickpeas and begrudgingly walk off.

I heard another customer pick the Traditional and when it came out I did look on in envy. The bread and portion size seemed to be a lot more manageable and he easily cleaned up the plate. Nothing was left to waste. I’ll remember for next time it seems.

The biggest shock came when I went to pay – the employee told me it would be £8. I thought this has to be some sort of trick. Thankfully, it wasn’t and for £8, I left leaving relatively stuffed with food still on the table.

As you would expect, there are a number of memorabilia dedicated to Ethiopian culture

As you would expect, there are a number of memorabilia dedicated to Ethiopian culture

All in all, it was a pleasant experience eating at Andu’s, however, it could do with a bit more liveliness. It seemed like a pretty mellow place but I guess if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s perfect. It is 100 per cent vegan so if you are following a plant-based diet, it is certainly worth a visit.

Be warned though that Andu is a cash-only establishment. After the pandemic, it looked like most businesses were going cashless but in Andu’s case, cash is still king.

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I’m Ayokunle (Ayo to most) and I’m a Community Reporter at MyLondon covering community stories around London and positive human stories. I started in October 2021 and since then I’ve covered a range of topics spanning all of London.

Three stories in the last month that I’m particularly proud of are:

I was born and raised in Hackney and I came back from living in Sydney, Australia in 2020 which was a positive but stressful experience (Due to Covid). I do enjoy London but my knowledge of it for someone who has lived here his entire life is pretty shameful – that is why this job is ideal.

You can contact me at [email protected]

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