Wass Ethiopian Restaurant; one of my favourite restaurants in the city. A true gem, and one that does not get as much love and attention as it deserves.
In a city with an infinite number of Italian restaurants, brunch spots, and coffee shops, surely we’ve got enough room to rant and rave about the goodness that is Wass.
Wass opened nearly a decade ago in 2009 (although under new ownership within the last year or so). It’s located on James Street South a stone’s throw south of Bronzies in the basement corner of James and Forest.
The atmosphere is casual, no frills and typically cloaked in the heavy aromatic scent of incense. The service (although at times can be slow) is warm and friendly and has a definitive mom and pop family-run type vibe going on. It’s a place frequented by its regular customers stopping in for lunch time take-out or coming by to sit and grab a bite.
My favourite thing about Ethiopian cuisine is the mix of flavourful spices of the meat dishes (lamb, beef and the most tender fall-off-the-bone spicy chicken) combined with the subtly sour injera bread to eat along side the light pickley sautéed flavour of the veggies (collard greens, cabbage, potatoes and beets). The portions are very generous and the prices are super affordable. Go on a Sunday evening for the two-person “Taste of Ethiopia Dinner Special” for $55 which include meat and veggie combo platter, coffee ceremony, and baklava dessert.
Ethiopian food is the kind of meal I enjoying sharing and eating together with friends. I often save occasions at Wass for a slow relaxed meal when I’m in the mood for something rich, satiating, and filling. Typically I order a shared veggie and meat combo, which gives a hefty sampling of a variety of meat, lentils, and veggies. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a shared meal at Wass in one sitting.
If you’re new to Ethiopian food, not to worry, the menu gives the low-down on Ethiopian cuisine, injera bread (with step-by-step instructions on how to eat your meal with injera) and the history of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony; not a surprise, being that Ethiopia is the original birthplace of coffee. If you are looking to do the coffee ceremony at Wass, don’t wait until the end of the meal to order. Tell the server in advance because the ceremony is pretty lengthy and takes some preparation. The coffee beans are essentially roasted right in front of you with the aroma of the roasting beans filling the air.
You can buy Ethiopian coffee beans here too, raw or roasted. Combine picking up some fresh beans on a weekend to try out their breakfast menu. Ethiopian breakfast is available only on Saturdays and Sundays; I’d be super curious to try it out.
If Wass were to ever disappear from Hamilton, I would be just about the saddest person. Give this place some love and order up some doro (chicken), lamb wat with gomen (boiled collard green sautéed with red onion), yatakilt wat (carrots, potatoes, cabbage) and yekik alicha (yellow split peas)!
Sunday 11 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Monday – Closed
Tuesday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.