The best of Moroccan
MIN FES HAMMAM AND CAFÉ
19-1, Jalan PJU 7/7A, Mutiara
Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: 03-7722 5049
Business hours: Open from 11.00am
till midnight every day except Monday.
There is a spa adjoining the restaurant.
IT’S a total Moroccan experience at Min Fes Hammam and Café. Here, you can indulge in gently spiced but delicious Moroccan cuisine, go to the spa next door and even do a little shopping.
THE gentle aroma of spices emanated from the Chicken Couscous infused with saffron. The texture was just right, the couscous having been steamed five times with olive oil and salt.
We were at the Min Fes Hammam and Café after hearing so much about this couscous and the other dishes that a friend had eaten.
She said it was only available on Wednesday, but we were lucky it was on the menu on the Tuesday we were there.
A piece of skinless chicken thigh, marinated and steamed, was buried inside the moist couscous, and this, together with juicy chunks of celery, radish, pumpkin, carrot and green pepper that had been skinned, and soft, creamy chickpeas, made for a scrumptious meal. All the chicken and vegetables had infused the couscous with their naturally sweet flavours. I couldn’t stop eating it.
The food at Min Fes is Moroccan, and we discerned a thread of fineness running through all the dishes we ordered. Even a simple Moroccan salad of diced cucumber, tomato and onions, tossed in lemon juice and olive oil, with chopped coriander leaves, turned out fresh and well balanced.
We also tried the tagine, stew of meat marinated with spices like paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, saffron, and slow-cooked together with vegetables or prunes in a clay dish with a cone-shaped cover.
The Min Fes menu mentioned the Lamb Tagine as having preserved lemon confit, saffron and onions. There were also apricots and raisins. The very tender lamb was finished with chopped almonds. The cauliflower was soft and lovely in the gravy. We happily dipped the light Moroccan bread into it.
Next came the Zaalouk – grilled eggplant mashed with tomatoes, cilantro and garlic. It tasted wonderfully smoky and creamy with a slightly tart lift from the tomato. There was also a little heat from the paprika and fragrance from cumin.
We had ordered green tea with luwiza leaf at the start, and this came in a brass pot. The tea was poured from a height, possibly to cool it. As I did not add the sugar cubes provided, it tasted a little bitter. No matter; it washed down the richness of the lamb dish.
At the end of the meal, we ordered the famed Moroccan tea with fresh mint, which I had been warned would be very sweet. Again, I asked for the sugar to be served separately. This was excellent with Basbousa Sweet, a semolina syrup cake with coconut. It was a dense, rich “cake” with chopped almonds. I could taste condensed milk in it, which was lovely, and my guest thoroughly enjoyed it, too.
Just before our dessert was served, Hassane Nafis, the owner, walked in. He took us around the shop and showed us works of art and craft in the shop. There was the intricately carved Alhambra in miniature, hanging on one wall; a mirror on a cedar wood frame with silver embedded in it on another. The doors of the cafe are made of cedar and hand-painted or carved in Moroccan designs. Filigree brass lamps are carefully positioned to scatter light and shadow across the ceiling.
Moroccan objets d’art are for sale here, as well as shoes and clothes.
Hassane showed us a shiny grey stone from which kohl for eyeliner is made. “It’s good for the eyes,” he said. Hassane, the sixth generation in a line of Moroccan craftsmen, is married to a Malaysian and has been living here for 20 years. He has a company dealing with the supply and installation of Islamic interior design, and makes regular trips to traditional fes (markets) in Morocco. Min Fes means “from Fes”.
We went back the next night and indulged in a bigger Moroccan feast with more people. We began with a delicate hummus, a chickpea and tahini dip with a well of extra virgin olive oil in the centre, and whole chick peas served with pita bread. Our meal continued with the Ful Medamas, a smooth blend of fava beans and spices with a Moroccan olive oil dressing. The dish had the texture of baked beans and was very delicious.
Again, we had the Zaalouk which everyone enjoyed. Then it was on to the Tchouchuka – grilled, peeled and diced bell pepper and tomato sauteed with Moroccan Atlas virgin olive oil and Kasbah spices.
Our appetisers had gone from the subtle to the pungent, on a gradual scale. It was a lovely experience.
The Lamb Aukdah was striking. The tender meat, fried with tomatoes and onions, simply exploded with flavour.
Dining at Min Fes will not put you out of pocket. Our table groaned with food, including Lamb Tagine, Chicken Couscous and Lamb Aukdah and four appetisers. There were a couple of takeaways too, but the bill came to only RM150 for the four of us.