Vivid scarves trail the movements of a belly dancer, who is herself echoing the vivacious rhythms of a North African tune. The spectacle serves as a multi-sensory spice alongside a feast of Moroccan cuisine at Mamounia, a thrilling eatery that evokes the mystique of Marrakech with traditional foods served in immersive environs. As they take in the candlelit scene, guests can share hot or cold mezzes of fattousk salads and phyllo dough chicken bastilla pastries, or feast on main courses of quail kebab, slow-cooked wild salmon, and sweet lamb-shank couscous.
Special occasions call for a three- or five-course dinner of lamb and chicken stews, baklava and mint tea, while off-site catering rings in birthdays and court dates with fragrant soups, fresh salads, and savory kabobs.
Grilled chicken, shrimp, and filet mignon kebabs lie upon beds of traditional couscous at Marrakesh, a restaurant devoted to introducing diners to authentic Moroccan cuisine. Chefs assemble chicken-stuffed bastilles—a type of filo-dough pot pie covered with powdered sugar and cinnamon—and marinate morsels of lamb in a sweet honey sauce. They also send out Harira, a Moroccan soup, and three traditional Moroccan salads with every prix fixe dinner. Meals draw to a close with pieces of homemade baklava and fragrant glasses of mint tea, which aid digestion and freshen breath more pleasantly than a mouth full of soap.
Dips made from fire-roasted eggplant or bell peppers, known respectively as zaolook and shakshooka, top pieces of pita bread and slices of house-baked flatbread at ASHA Moroccan Mediterranean Kitchen. Many of the traditional recipes used in the kitchen come from owner Hend Elarabi's own mother, according to the OC Weekly blog, and treat taste buds to flavor combinations that will be new to many diners. Slow-cooked lentils join fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and Moroccan herbs in the adeesa, Hend's favorite appetizer, and dried plums lend their sweetness to bits of roasted lamb in pots of lamb tajeen. To add to the traditional ambiance set by the restaurant's cuisine, belly dancers provide entertainment, offer shimmy lessons, and translate stomach growls into English throughout the week.