4/6-10 Harrow Rd
Auburn, NSW 2144
I acquired a rather soft spot for African food after learning that you can eat a lot of it with your hands. Unfortunately African food as a whole isn’t as much of a big deal in Sydney as it is in Melbourne. But Salam Café and Restaurant is where you can get the good stuff. Filled with nothing but expats, expect to see large families seated barefoot on the raised platform covered in vivid carpets, grazing from giant communal platters. It is, as the kids say, a total vibe.
Rating: 12.5/20 – so authentic they don’t even give you cutlery
Hot Tip: but you can ask for cutlery if you like; they certainly didn’t judge me for not wanting to eat rice with my fingers.
The Somali and Ethiopian Combo ($22) showcases pretty much all the must-have dishes. Half of the tangy injera bread is covered with spiced mandi rice and aromatic roast lamb, whilst the other half soaks up the earthy gravy of the doro wot. The platter also comes a couple of different types of lentil stew, as well as a golden, turmeric-heavy braise of vegetables. It is about as hearty as meals come, and the sauce-soaked bread at the bottom is practically daring you to finish every last scrap.
If meat’s not your thing, the Combination Platter of Veggies ($20) will get you through. Instead of lamb and chicken, you get two MORE types of lentil curry, in addition to the two you get by default. Who knew there were so many shades of brown! However, the taste of each is sufficiently different so that you don’t feel like you’re eating the same thing four times over.