Launched by the non-profit Tiyya Foundation, Flavors from Afar originally started as a catering service, employing former refugee chefs cooking food from their native homelands. Their brick-and-mortar restaurant opened in Little Ethiopia last year, just as the pandemic started. The menu rotates monthly, spotlighting immigrant cuisines from places all over the globe – Belize to Egypt to Kenya. During my visit, food from Somalia was featured, with Chef Malia Hamza at the helm.
Located on a busy stretch of Fairfax, Flavors from Afar was not open for dine in, which is a shame because the restaurant is beautiful, but takeout and delivery were available. I placed my pick up order over the phone (you can also order online) and was warmly assisted by Christian, one of the co-founders.
I ordered the Veggie Sambusas as a starter. The sambusas were similar to samosas, stuffed with a spicy mix of broccoli, cabbage, onion, potatoes and carrots, wrapped in a delicate pastry, and served with a dip. Even though they were fried, the sambusas were very light and not greasy.
A huge salmon fillet, coated with Somali seasoning, sat on top of a bed of delicate coconut rice with broccoli, onions and peppers in the Baked Salmon Coconut Fried Rice. The dish seemed quite healthy, and the fish was cooked perfectly.
My favorite dish was the Somali Pan Seared Chicken Fried Rice Plate. Two large pieces of halal chicken legs were coated in a slightly spicy sauce that was completely intoxicating, with meat so tender that it was falling off the bone. Usually I try to avoid eating the skin to be healthy, but it would have been a crime to have left it behind. The chicken paired nicely with the rice, which had carrots, cabbage, onions and fried potatoes. The serving size was so generous that I had enough leftover for another meal.
My jamaica agua fresca was not too sweet and slightly tart, which helped extinguish some of the heat from the food.
Not only does Flavors from Afar employ refugee chefs, but proceeds go to programs that support families of refugees and low-income immigrants. With its ever-changing menu highlighting cuisines that aren’t normally easily accessible, it’s one of the most interesting restaurants in Los Angeles, with its heart in the right place.
Location – 1046 S. Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Website – https://flavorsfromafar.co
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes