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Fasika: revisiting a YUM favorite

By Alex Galimberti

Ever since the very first YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City, attendees have been able to enjoy the unique flavors of the Ethiopian food served by Fasika. During the years that Fasika has been in East Somerville people have grown to love the unique food and dining style that Ethiopian immigrants like restaurant proprietor Mr. Befekadu Befar have brought to share with our community. And the busy people of Somerville and surrounding communities have not only learned to share meals with our hands but we also embraced Fasika and the contribution of Mr. Befar to our city.

On a recent visit to Fasika I was able to ask Mr. Befar about one of my favorite components of any Ethiopian meal; the delicious injera bread that is used to scoop up food with and adds a nice tangy taste to each bite. He explained that the injera prepared at Fasika follows traditional fermentation methods: the batter is made with a mixture of mostly teff flour that is naturally fermented in a way similar to sourdough bread. The batter at Fasika is made with the addition of barley and wheat flours for optimal textures. Each batch of injera ferments for 2-3 days based on the current temperature and humidity levels. A batch of injera made with 100% teff flour is suitable for guests with gluten allergies and can be prepared by special request, with advance notice.

In addition to explaining to me the method of preparation for Fasika’s famous injera, Mr. Befar also shared that the East Somerville restaurant which is located at 145 Broadway has recently undergone renovations to the kitchen and restrooms so that they can better accommodate the growing volume of sales. Also, customers who would like to try Ethiopian food for breakfast or lunch can do so at the restaurant’s second location Fasika Café, located at 51 Roxbury St. in Boston. I recently tried their breakfast and highly recommend it. See photos below.

We hope that you will attend the tenth annual installment of YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City on April 11 and try some of the food served by Fasika and the eight other restaurants participating this year.

Breakfast at Fasika Cafe in Roxbury

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The Neighborhood Restaurant & Bakery

If you live in Somerville or anywhere near and you haven’t been to The Neighborhood Restaurant & Bakery in Union Square, you are missing out on a real gem.  The Neighborhood was started in 1983 by Mario Borges and his father and is now run by his sister, Sheila.  Photos of the family dominate the walls in the cozy restaurant.  Breakfast fare is popular on the menu and the Borges family’s Portuguese roots come through in items such as the Linguiça, a Portuguese smoked pork sausage and Portuguese sweet bread.

In order to avoid the hundreds of people who flock to The Neighborhood on the weekends, a friend and I visited the restaurant at lunchtime on a Thursday.  We were greeted by an extremely friendly waitress who gave us a choice of seats in the cozy, sunny dining room.  We both opted to order from the breakfast menu that is served all day.  I chose the Three Eggs with Linguica, fried banana and homefries and my friend chose the special pancakes with bananas and pecans.  All breakfast items come with Portuguese sweet bread toast, orange juice, coffee and choice of a fruit cup or Cream of Wheat.  How many restaurants would give you all of that at no extra charge?  Everything was absolutely delicious and we both walked out totally satisfied and ready to face the rest of the day.

If you are not in the mood for breakfast food, The Neighborhood also offers sandwiches, soup and other entrées including grilled and fried fish and seafood, steak tips, cod cakes and chicken.

The Neighborhood Restaurant and Bakery is open daily from 7am – 4pm and is located at 25 Bow Street, Somerville, MA.  www.theneighborhoodrestaurant.com

To see all the restaurants that will be featured at this year’s YUM event, click here.

YUM: A Taste Immigrant City is an evening of culinary tastes from immigrant-run Somerville restaurants and local world entertainment, which benefits the work of The Welcome Project, Somerville’s largest immigrant and advocacy organization. The Welcome Project serves over 200 families each year. Purchase your tickets today!

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Istanbul’lu

We walked into Istanbul’lu just in time to get a table on a busy Friday night. My husband, Isaiah, and I were seated in the corner looking out over Holland Street. The room was cozy and filled with tables of people clearly savoring the food and the atmosphere.

Just after we were seated, we were brought a basket of warm, fresh Turkish bread with red pepper sauce, which was a nice accompaniment to a glass of Georgian wine (me) and Efes Turkish beer (him).

We started with the Coban Salad, a refreshing mix of tomato, peppers, cucumber, scallion, peynir (a hard Turkish cheese), tossed with olive oil and lemon juice. The salad was crunchy and fresh, and a great starting point for our meal. We decided to split a number of small plates, with our favorites being Mucver, a flavorful zucchini fritter with fresh yogurt sauce, and Ispanak Borani, a creamy spinach dish with tomatoes and tangy yogurt. It felt only right to cap this incredible meal off with a cup of sweet Turkish coffee.

Istanbul’lu was a perfect spot for our Friday night pre-movie date, and I have a feeling I’ll be bringing friends back to this spot again so I can sample more of the menu! With the restaurant full and humming, we did not get much of a chance to chat with Istanbul’lu’s owner, Huseyin Agkun. We look forward to catching up with him the next time we stop in, perhaps for a Turkish breakfast.

Sample Istanbul’lu’s Turkish specialties at YUM, coming up this Thursday, April 26th at the Arts at the Armory! Click here to buy tickets.

Istanbul’lu is located at 237 Holland Street in Somerville, MA. Click here to find out more about the restaurant or place an order online.

To see all the restaurants that will be featured at this year’s YUM event, click here.

YUM: A Taste Immigrant City is an evening of culinary tastes from immigrant-run Somerville restaurants and local world entertainment, which benefits the work of The Welcome Project, Somerville’s largest immigrant and advocacy organization. The Welcome Project serves over 200 families each year.

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Masala

Masala is a special place. Lined with a row of windows that looks out onto Teele Square, natural outdoor light meets the warmth of the restaurant itself. Inside, with a beautiful dining area and a glass window looking into the kitchen, Masala gives every customer a sense of both openness and connection. That, in fact, is what makes the whole experience so unique.

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted with a plate of complimentary papadum, a thin and fragrant cracker with three sauces, including a spicy chutney. For dinner itself, we sampled a variety of food, including samosas, garlic and peschwari naan, a lamb rogan josh, and a creamy rice pudding for dessert. Everything was delicious; I was only sorry I didn’t have room for more of the extensive selection.

After dinner, we were warmly welcomed by Dammar, Masala’s owner. He talked about how Masala serves both the local Nepalese community – nearly half of customers on weekends are Nepalese – and helps engage people who are less familiar with the cuisine.

 “Before,” Dammar told us, “I sold only 10% of my menu – now I sell 40%.”

It is a dynamic process for him, a two-way street where his guests learn about his food and culture – they start to know the names of different dishes, and ask for new recommendations – while Dammar also loves to ask the guests’ opinion on what they have eaten.

Dammar’s own story shows how comfortable he is working between cultures. Before arriving in Boston, he travelled to over 80 countries as a chef on Carnival cruises. He described working with crews of 150 people from 140 countries, making food 24 hours a day for thousands of people. Trained in French cuisine, Dammar’s wanted to share a passion for his own cuisine, the taste and textures of Nepalese cooking.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2f20.jpg

This passion has caught on, as we could tell by the number of different kinds of people sharing the restaurant with us, whether a regulars who knew all the wait staff, or a group of friends out for a weeknight meal. This restaurant is clearly well-respected and well-loved, as a unique place to connected to the people and the process behind the delicious food that you are served.

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Masala is located at 1127 Broadway, Somerville. Find more information on Masala here: http://www.somervillemasala.com/

Sample Masala’s dishes at YUM, coming up this Thursday, April 26th at the Arts at the Armory! Click here to buy tickets.


YUM: A Taste Immigrant City is an evening of culinary tastes from immigrant-run Somerville restaurants and local world entertainment, which benefits the work of The Welcome Project, Somerville’s largest immigrant and advocacy organization. The Welcome Project serves over 200 families each year.

Photo credits: Helen Fowowe.