The food at Nyala Ethiopian Restaurant is as exotic as the African continent itself, featuring a rich blend of spices. The décor is warm and bright, with festive Northeast African accents. Large groups can order the house specialty roasted-while-you-watch coffee.
We dined here on Saturday night for Dine out. Arrived at 7 and was seated almost immediately. Our server was great! He was very pleasent, smiley and helpful. I really wanted to like the food but it was hard to. The pakoras were served cold. Not sure if they were supposed to be like that but it would have better hot (or at least warm). The chutney was good. I had the chicken for my main and my dinner date had the lamb. The chicken was acceptable, the rice was not. The rice tasted like it was sitting around uncovered for a while. There were hard chunks of it. The lamb was said to be tender and flavourful. For dessert, I had the pecan tart and my dinner date had the cheesecake. The tart isn't a tart. It's more like a tort and was mushy. The cheesecake was smothered in mango sauce that overpowered the flavour of the cake itself. The dine out menu needs some work. Their regular menu looks good though. May return when dine out ends (no regular menu during dine out).
It's been about a month since I went to Nyala for dinner, but I clearly remember the food and how delicious everything was. I was with a group of people for our monthly Dine Out but I arrived a bit later than everyone else. A few people had ordered appetizers already and from the general chatter around the table, everyone was enjoying the food.
The server was very friendly and helpful in recommending something to my liking. I ended up choosing the prawn dish, which had about 9 prawns served with saffron rice, onions and peppers in a piri piri sauce in a clay pot. It was piping hot and smelled fantastic when the lid was removed. The dish was about $23 but it was more than enough to fill me up, and probably would have been enough for two less-hungry people. You also get a serving of tabouleh and lentil salad with African style bread (can't remember what it's called) to go with your meal.
I noticed that other dishes were extremely small compared to the dish I had, so I would probably check with a server to see how the portions are before ordering. I was quite hungry and would have been disappointed to have had one of the smaller dishes, which were all between $16-$23 for meat or seafood dishes and about $12-$14 for vegetarian.
I really enjoyed my experience at Nyala and will definitely go back.
Used a groupon - maybe that was my first mistake. They obviously couldn't handle the wave of new business. I bought the coupon because I had a good experience before... but not this time.
Right from the start the service was slow and confusing. We stood at the door waiting to be seated but could see the servers delivering orders instead of acknowledging us. I finally asked, "Do we sit down wherever we want?" because I saw an empty table and she said "...No..." so we continued to stand there.
We ordered and started the waiting process. We could see other tables that were without food and the people looking bored, implying they'd been waiting a while. It took more than half an hour to get our main entrees (we didn't order any appies, but we did get a starter lentil salad) and my boyfriend's eyes bulged at how small the portions were, especially for that price. Meat was very very overcooked. My boyfriend wanted to dig in but I told him to wait for the wraps/bread... we waited and waited and watched our plate of wraps go to another table.
The bill was the real kicker. I was only planning on tipping MINIMAL for their slow and clueless service but they had already INCLUDED 15% tip, for TWO people - is that even allowed?? I was peeved but didn't want to waste my breath arguing - their english isn't very good. How can you charge so much tip when your service was terrible and the food only mediocre??
The sweetheart and I have come here twice.
On our first visit, we had a mild chicken dish and a spicy beef dish. Both were flavourful and true to their menu descriptions. The presentation was excellent. We liked the injera bread, and got a kick out of having to eat it with our hands. The warm washclothes provided beforehand was an excellent detail. Our server was very laissez faire, but we didn't feel neglected. In short, it made us want to come back for a second go-round.
However, on the second visit, our server seated us and didn't come back for a full 30 minutes, even though we put out all the clear signs of being ready to order (menus closed, looking up). The food, once ordered, came promptly. This time, the food was still nicely presented, but very oily, so much so that it rendered the injera bread underneath into an oily mess that we didn't want to eat. It was even darker in the restaurant this time, which made it a somewhat less enjoyable experience--vision is one of the senses that enhances food. Our water glasses were only filled once, and that was when we flagged down the server, having had no luck prominently displaying our empty water glasses at the edge of the table for 20 minutes.
There probably won't be a third visit. We liked the food itself, but we need a restaurant that will delivery ambience and service as well.
We used to really enjoy Nyala, especially when it was on 4th Ave. We went to the Main St location a couple of years ago and chatted with the owner since we were the only customers that night and he mentioned that his kids thought he was getting old and should close the restaurant. Well, after going last night and seeing how much the place has gone downhill, I definitely agree.
The place was packed but probably because everyone had to use their groupons that expire in 10 days. They couldn't keep up with the crowd and it took over an hour to get our food. The portions are a lot smaller than they used to be, and much more expensive, and they brought very little bread to eat with the dishes. They used to serve all the food on the big platter of bread, now apparently they'll still do it if you ask for it, but since everything took so long anyway we weren't going to wait yet again. We never did get extra bread or another pitcher of water. The sauce on the lamb tibs was nice, but all the other dishes were quite bland.
I just read some of the recent reviews and people are saying that they automatically include a 15% tip on the bill... the people in our group who read the bill didn't notice that, so we added a tip, which means we grossly over-tipped for a meal that was not very enjoyable. Well, that's definitely the last time I visit Nyala.
I know I know when I think back to the evening it's hard to believe it all happened!
We took advantage of some coupons and were also greeted by the owner with a sour face. Not a good sign.
We ordered pakora which basically was individual pieces of tasteless deep fried battered veg. Not the usual flavourful combination of shredded veg.
My entre was the evening special of lamb tagine which was presented beautifully in a traditional tagine baking dish. However the lamb shank was tough with lots of fat and I could barely cut it with my knife. For $24.95 I expected better.
Service was lacking with having to ask the waitresses for numerous items they kept forgetting to bring to the table. Both looked like they'd much rather be somewhere else and it soon became evident why.
Our bill included a 15% gratuity of the amount before deducting the coupon which normally I'm quite ok with, however if you're automatically going to tack the gratuity on you better be prepared to deliver. So when service & food is sub par I prefer to be able to determine my own gratuity or at least be told it was included. Good thing we noticed it added to the bill or we would have tipped yet again.
Regardless we paid what was asked without saying anything which turns out to be a good thing as another couple were standing at the bar with the owner quietly voicing their concerns about this very practice of adding the gratuity to the owner who commenced yelling at them about a 15% tip being added to the bill in most restaurants nowadays. NOT! The customers remained speaking quietly while the owner kept on and on in a very loud voice. They finally left the restaurant at which point the owner yelled throughout the whole place that the customer a "cheap son of a B" to the absolute amazement of the remaining guests.
It was all quite unbelievable and such an inappropriate display of downright boorishness on the part of the owner that there is no way we will ever return.
I was reluctant to use a gifted Groupon for Nyala due to previous comments however we were delighted with this restaurant. The service was friendly and timely. The meals were wonderful, the lamb tagine was extremely tasty and the spicy prawns were in a delicious sauce with peppers and tomatoes. Accompanied by freshly cooked rice and a specialty bread, don't know the name but it was perfect for dipping in the amazing sauces.
We were given (on the house) some light and refreshing tabouleh salad with brown lentils also very nice.
Perhaps the prices seems a little high but there is no extra charge for accompaniments. I would definitely like to return as we were pleasantly surprised. Sorry no room for dessert as the portions were good. Thank you Nyala Restaurant for a very memorable meal.
Extremely slow service. We were there for a total of 115 minutes, and we had no appetizers or desserts.
The food tasted okay, but the prices were ridiculous, considering the portion sizes.
There was only one scatter-brained server who seemed to be the owner. He had no idea how to scan a barcode for the Groupon, and then yanked my phone away to mark it as used, and told me it was no good anymore. Water was never refilled.
I won't be going back there, because I don't want to spend 2+ hours waiting to eat half-decent food for way too much money.
Located along the trendy/hipster main strip, Nyala Restaurant serves the most delicious and varied African fare around town. It's owners are originally from Ethiopia but isn't afraid to cook up some tasty Tagines (Morocco), Borewor Kebabs (South Africa) and even some Calamari, Pakoras and Hummus (all part of the appetizer platter special). For first timers it is a chance to eat with your hands and not be worried that it's not appropriate. It's a fun place to bring a date or get together with the family (kids menu is available). Now the joint features many local and some international artists playing music most nights. Food was tasty, owners extremely friendly and I loved the background African music.
Have a good time and report back what you thought!
We went here on the 1st night of dineout Vancouver 2008. My friend and I got there but the owner/manager refused to give us our table claiming we were late for the reservations! The restaurant at the time had only 2 tables seated and he was giving us the attitude big time!! He was rude to me and once we sat down to our table, no service for like 15 mins!! Then finally a waitress came and take our order...she was super nice!
The food was alright for a $15 menu. But the service was so so...since it got more busy as the night goes on...we had no water refills and waited forever for the check.
I think the place would be better without that guy there freaking out the customers and a going on a more quiet night would be better.
I was taken here by a friend who wanted me to try something different. We went on a quiet night, there were only about a few other people in there so service was prompt. Our server explained the items in the menu quite thoroughly. The food did take longer than expected but was quite good. Everything was quite tasty and it was really neat and different to be eating everything with your hands.
The decor was different. Lots of giraffe statues everywhere. Would definately return again.
Well, unlike some of the reviewers here I found the food at Nyala to be of generally good quality, and our server was friendly and helfpul. I chose the pakoras as an appetizer, the lamb tagine for dinner, and the cheesecake for dessert. I left feeling very full. The pakoras were served with beetroot on a papadum, along with greens, chutney and hot sauce. The pakoras were crisp and tasty. The lamb tagine had a nice sauce and the meat was well cooked and came easily off the bone. One problem I did find was that due to the low lighting, I couldn't see my food and that took a little of the enjoyment out of the main course because I like to see what I'm eating, especially with meat. And yes, the slice of cheesecake for dessert was small (the portion sizes have been small at several of the $15 menu restaurants I've attended for DOV) but the cheesecake was very rich and I think to a large piece would have given me a stomachache--and I'm not a small eater. Our server told us they make the cheesecake in-house and it is real baked cheesecake, very savoury. And I personally loved the mango sauce on it-- made from real mango puree and not just mango "flavor." Overall I enjoyed the food and the atmosphere.
The food is definitely tasty at Nyala and we enjoy going just for the food; however, it is no culinary experience so to speak. Service was rushed and impersonal - although I do like the cleaning towel idea before starting the meal. Ambiance is not great ... you feel like you are sitting in a classroom close to the street. Go for the food; expect little for service and ambiance.
The portion size was surprisingly small for the price. I felt horrible spending 19 dollars for a small skillet of beef with some onions and peppers strewn about. While the food was maybe not my kind of thing (and that's not why I'm leaving a negative review), I know I would have definitely enjoyed it more had it been cheaper and had I left full.
My boyfriend and I split an appetizer platter with another couple and ordered ONE beef dish; We spent $37.00. Had it not been for the sour crepe (injera) to dip into the chutney sauce, I would've left completely famished.
The service was quite poor, which surprised me. The waiter was wearing a baseball cap, baggy jeans, and an untucked oversized dress shirt. He wouldn't split our bill (there was about 15 of us) and forgot to bring back the debit machine a number of times, making things really confusing. However, the other staff was pretty nice.
If I HAD to come back, I'd order the appetizer platter ($20) to share - and that's it, though I'll probably avoid coming back. I don't know how they can charge what they do.
Was there for the world cup. Forced to choose from their "game menu" (i.e. limited late night menu). After waiting nearly forever for our food to show up, we ordered the hummus, lamb kebab appetizers and chicken stirfry meal.
Hummus was probably the best I've had in Vancouver (that doesn't say a whole lot but I've tried many many places). Full of garlic and chunky and quite tasty. So is the accompaniment of pita which seems freshly made .
However, the lamb kebab was unexpected. Tasted like day old hot dogs cooked with some kind of beet potato salad. Barely any kebab with too much of the salad in comparison to the rest of the plate. Amount of food for the appetizer was enough for a meal but couldn't finish it. It came with a fried rice roll which was nice as well but only one.
The Chicken stirfry meal was awful. Found a piece of beef in the chicken dish and complained to the owner, we showed him the piece of meat we found. However, instead of being apologetic, he proceeded to lecture us that we should have complained earlier. We had tried to flag the waitress down earlier but was ignored pretty much the entire time until she finally came to collect the plates which was when we complained.
The owner offered another plate but as we were on our way out the door, we declined. He was unremorseful and irritated. There was no concession on the final bill.
And ladies, don't even think of going to the toilet... the door lock is nonexistent and in the small cramped space there's an extra door for the single stall but no working lock on that either.
Will never return here again. Sad because the hummus was good.
I have only had Ethiopian food once before and this was definitely a much better expeience. The server was very helpful explaining the different dishes to everyone and suggesting ideas.
The food was tasty and the ambience was nice, mine was relatively inexpensive however my partner did think his meal was overpriced.
If you're first definitely ask about a sharing platter as it was really really tasty and had a good variety of food.
I would go there again but there would probably be other places I'd try first.
We dined here on a Friday night and there was only three other tables while we were there. The service was very good, the host made recommendations, made sure about the level of spice and was very friendly. The food was good, well presented and the portions were generous but not over-the top. I would go back and would recommend it to others.
If you have lots of time on your hands and a tremendous amount of patience then Nyala African Cuisine is the restaurant for you.
A lot of care and attention must be put into the preparation of their food because appetizers were served 45 minutes after they were ordered and the main courses came another hour later.
At no time did anyone attempt to explain why there was such a delay or even apologize for it.
I spoke to the host/manager/owner about the service afterwards and found him very defensive. He asked how I found the food. I told him that it was "fine" and he said that he can only be responsible for the food and nothing else. Basically, he was blaming me and other patrons for eating there and creating this problem for him. His idea of making it up to me was to give me complimentary tea with my dessert.
The food was simple but nothing spectacular. I did see another table send back chicken because it was raw.
This was my worst dining experience ever and just so you understand how bad it was, it occured more than 6 months ago and I still can't get it out of my mind.
I went to Nyala for Dine Out Vancouver 2008 last weekend for $15 menu. The portions were so small we went home hungry. I told the owner’s son that it was too small, and he said that’s what you get for $15 and tat the regular menu is different (more food).
Why didn’t they have $25 menu (if $15 is too low for them) and normal amount food instead so we don’t have to go home and eat dinner again? Come to think of it, they did have almost the same $25 menu with goat, ostrich and prawn, instead of lamb, chicken and vegetarian. Appetizers and deserts were exactly the same. I never saw such a small piece of the cheese cake in the restaurant before.
It’s a small restaurant, and there were four serves, but the service was slow. The servers would go in the kitchen and stay there, so I was wondering if they were cooking the food?
That was a disappointing experience for me and I will never go there again. I thought that Dine Out Vancouver is an opportunity to promote your restaurant and attract more guests, not take their money and leave them hungry and unsatisfied.
The food was alright but was not nearly as spicy as they advertised it to be. The "HEY THIS IS REALLY SPICY BE CAREFUL" foods turned out to have the mildest kick; for a frame of reference, I usually order "mild" at restaurants and get a pretty good kick.
The menu is deceptive and makes everything sound delicious, often omitting key ingredients, such strong-tasting celery (which I hate).
The server, though extremely friendly and helpful, switched up one of the orders and spoiled my dinner. (I wanted lamb but I got chicken instead! wahh!) No biggie. Waters were filled up always and the server was otherwise attentive as well.
The atmosphere of the evening was pretty awkward. It was a quiet night but they left the music pretty quiet as well, so we spoke in hushed tones to each other across the table. We had visited Nyala on 4th previously and the ambiance of that location was much better -- darker, more exotic, often with live music, and the staff more lively. This was a bit of a disappointment.
Overall, my reaction is bleh but it might be worth another shot.
Review by Fish on behalf of The Last Supper, recorded on 2007-07-29, uploaded 2007-09-08
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