If you’re a foodie like I am, you’ve experienced food’s mood-altering effect on virtually every aspect of life. It happened recently when my team and I were in Baltimore on our Black Foodie trip. I’d just received bad news that put a damper on the trip, until I walked through the doors of Ekiben located at 911 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211.
This quick casual Asian and African fusion is an unforgettable dining experience that was out of this world delicious, and a foodie’s dream come true.
The owners, Steve Chu and Ephrem Abebe, are so amazing they once drove their famous tempura broccoli to a dying woman as part of her last wish. Drove from Baltimore to Vermont. The woman’s son contacted them for the recipe, but the owners had something else in mind because the know the power of food and its ability to provide comfort is truly divine.
The cuisine here is like nothing else in the city. The Neighborhood Bird sandwich is a huge Taiwanese curry fried chicken thigh topped with spicy sambal mayo, pickles, and fresh herbs. I ordered mild since the sambal mayo is abundant with red pepper flavor. To turn up the heat, get it spicy.
Biting into this flavorful sandwich resulted in my brain experiencing a small loss of consciousness from the Ethiopian flavoring, batter seasoning with sour and pungent undertones, the crunch, decadent sauce, and softness of the bao bun.
The beauty of our nationwide blog is we can confidently compare gems from city to city. When we encounter a gem that is the crown jewel, we believe in giving props, so I can say unequivocally this sandwich will easily rank as one of the nation’s best. I’ve only experienced a chicken sandwich of this magnitude with the Chicago staple Hermosa’s Cambodian fried chicken sandwich.
Next was the Tackle Box, which came with perfectly tempura fried catfish and/or crispy shrimp, fresh herbs, roasted garlic. Each seafood item was fried to perfection. The balance of spice and flavor enhanced by the sauce made the cohesiveness of the dish so impressive that the box didn’t even have that oil ring at the bottom from it settling when I took it back to the hotel.
This is not the standard tempura by any means, the African seasonings were poppin like balloons in the hands of an 8-year-old holding a needle. The tempura broccoli had the same batter and was as delicious as the seafood even though flavor and palate reception were entirely different.
The following entrée was their incomparable vegan Tofu Brah served in a spicy peanut sauce, seasonal slaw, fresh herbs, and roasted aromatics. The most fragrant of the entrees we enjoyed, this dish was perfect for our vegan camera guy who drove 30 minutes to return for more.
Last but certainly not least was The Borrego, their slow cooked lamb, crudito, fresh herbs and onions served with a side of salsa roja for dipping. I loved that it was messy and all in my beard. Messiness I wear with pride since our audience knows if the food is in my beard, it is the $#@&!
My pride and respect for Ekiben expanded tenfold as it became apparent that the deliciousness of the food is enhanced by the righteousness of its owners. It makes so much sense now. While we dined in this space, we saw incredibly happy employees and owners and line staff – a beautiful multicultural workforce reflecting a delicious unforgettable African-Asian fusion that will one day have locations all over the United States.
They are only doing pick-up and delivery, so please click the link to place an order https://www.ekibenbaltimore.com/order-online/.
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