March 8, 2009

Moroccan flavors

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Yet another evening of gathering with friends and finding somewhere interesting to eat. I dragged everyone to the "dark side" so I can have another taste of the Arabic/Moroccan food at Malouf's. It's been over half a year since my last visit, and I was ready to relive some fond memories...

We had three starters to tide us over, beginning with the mezze. The cheesy ladies fingers were OK, and the smoky baba ganoush was not bad with the homemade jou jou bread. The almond falafel was nice as to be expected, while the salt cod and preserved lemon fritter had a nice, soft texture like one would find in a Portuguese or Spanish restaurant.

Batt moubakhar - the duck leg was marinated in "7 year master stock"...not quite sure what that means. While the frying made it look like a duck confit, the cumin salt used reminded me of Chinese 5-spice. The accompanying carrot salad matched the duck nicely.

Laban immor - the lamb dumplings were pretty good, with the interesting tastes of garlic mint yogurt with spinach and chick peas. A second round of ordering added another starter and some mains. I didn't take any of the shawarma as it's been made into a modern salad.

We had two orders of the bistayeea, since we would have been fighting for the pigeon pie otherwise. However these fell a little short of my expectations, given how yummy they were on my last visit. The flavor of the pigeon meat was less intense, and although there was still the almond and the sweet filo pastry, it was just a bit anti-climactic.

Malouf's Mouhrabieh bi kraides - this prawn and mussel tagine was interesting, with caramelized fennel and giant cous cous that look like white BB shots. Not sure what these balls are made of, but they sure are chewy.

Mozat bi baharat - the veal shank looked gigantic sitting in the tagine pot. The meat was tender although just a tad dry for my taste. The butternut pumpkin base was sweet and good. We can't walk out of the place without sweets, so here goes a third round of ordering...

Spiced pomegranate ganita with minted watermelon salad and lime syrup pistachio halva - I had a tiny spoonful and it seemed pretty good.

Mahallabia - I had this on my last visit, but the jelly on top of the cream is now made with rose scented strawberries. Still had the Iranian candy floss on top which is just dragon beard candy (龍鬚糖) to the Chinese...

Syrian apricot and almond tart with caramelized orange and orange blossom clotted cream - pretty yummy actually, and the caramelized orange was especially interesting as this isn't something we usually see.

Burnt honey ice cream and kataifi and toffeed figs - delicious caramel flavors.

I had the Moroccan mint tea, but unfortunately the tea had neither enough flavor nor enough sweetness...

Overall it was a pretty decent meal, if a tiny bit below my expectations in terms of food quality. However the real let down came in the form of service. The staff seemed poorly trained and generally slow, perhaps even a little nonchalant. We were a bit put off by this. The whole dining experience would be so much better - resulting in more customers - if the staff could just care about service a bit more... Oh well...

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