Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Taste of Morocco in Beijing

On Friday night my friend and I tried out a Moroccan restaurant called Moro in a non-descript area west of Liangmaqiao station. Walking a few hundred metres west takes you to a small narrow restaurant that is a bit cramped.

For the first hour or so we were the only diners in the dining establishment which made us wonder if the place would get busier later on.

However, the food proved that it's a small gem in the Beijing food scene with hearty dishes. Chef Youssef Moro is Moroccan and apparently buys most of his ingredients everyday at the nearby Sanyuanli market that I've also been to a few times. It definitely has fresh meats, seafood, vegetables and fruits.

He previously cooked for Starwood Hotels and has had enough of the corporate scene and last summer opened his own restaurant.

We started with the harira soup, a slightly spicy tomato and lentil soup with braised lamb. Definitely a perfect winter starter and was full of flavour.

Next came the tapas platter, which had a number of small ceramic bowls filled with braised eggplant, peppers, fried calimari, mushrooms, grilled celaric and marinated kalamata olives. These were all eaten with pita bread. The button mushrooms were served in a plate of oil which was disconcerting, but they were cooked with lemon and garlic for a tangy flavour. The grilled asparagus with cheese was delicious.

The main event, the lamb tagine was divine. It was braised for a long time with prunes and garnished with almond slices. The meat fell off the bone and the sauce that included cinnamon had to be mopped up with our order of cous cous cooked with herbs.

Afterwards we had just about enough room for dessert, but the dessert of the day wasn't available; only ice cream. We decided to give it a pass as we were quite full.

In the next few weeks the restaurant will move closer to Sanlitun which will not only give it more exposure, but also hopefully more room for customers to sit back, relax and savour each bite.

No comments: