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Insight from the youngest award-winning child movie critic
Perry’s Previews Restaurant Review – Kous Kous is the Go To Place for Fabulous Moroccan Food
(4.5 out of 5 starfish)
By Perry S. Chen Jan 6, 2013
When you think of exotic Moroccan cuisine, what comes to mind? Before I discovered Kous Kous, my favorite local Moroccan restaurant was “Marrakesh” in La Jolla where mom and I discovered our favorite Moroccan food, the B’stila, a crispy, flaky phylo bakery stuffed with juicy, flavorful saffron chicken and honeyed almond slices. We used to get takeout orders of the heavenly B’stila from Marrakesh every month.
But, last summer, Marrakesh shut down, so I was surprised to see the delicious B’stila pastry at a party in our house, brought by our friend Sharon who lives in La Jolla and loved this pastry as much as we do. She found the only other Moroccan restaurant in town, Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro in Hillcrest. After tasting the B’stila, I discovered that it tasted surprisingly good, better than I had ever tasted before! It’s full of goodies, richer, and nuttier than the Marrakesh version. My mom and I tracked down Kous Kous last summer, and ordered a 10-person B’stila, which we baked and devoured in three days!
To celebrate my mom’s birthday, we decided to try Kous Kous’s dinner menu with my photographer Brian Bostrom. We arrived at the restaurant after dark. Just by the look of the restaurant, Kous Kous embodies the exotic flare of Moroccan culture, complete with vibrant red cloth lining the windowsill, giving it the look of a Middle Eastern tent. When we opened the door into the dimly lit room, we were greeted by the owner and head chef of the restaurant, Moumen Nouri, who was such a hospitable host and prepared his finest dishes for our visit. As we were led to our seats, I took note of the exotic decorations and ambiance. Candles and Moroccan light fixtures cast a dim orange glow across the restaurant. Shiny pots and antiques were displayed below a projector playing old classic films such as Casablanca, which added to the atmosphere of the restaurant, but had no sounds at all.
The first appetizer was the scrumptious B’stila Roll, which was a petite version of the 10-person order. The rolls rested atop a bed of multicolored lettuce and had a dash of powdered sugar and cinnamon on top. The B’stila was an interesting blend of savory and sweet, with hints of honey and spices. I only wish there were more of it! The next tapas was the Harira Soup, which was a tomato broth with grainy lentils, garbanzo beans, and a few spicy croutons on top. It was served warm, but not too hot, and had a lemony, earthy taste.
The Zaalouk was the following dish, which had mildly sweet ground roasted eggplant served on a slice of tasty pita bread, served cold with a pinch of parsley. Also, I had the Endive Pockets, which were cold, soft lentils and smooth garbanzo beans wrapped in a crispy, slightly bitter endive leaf. The final appetizer was the Moroccan sliders, which had 3 different types of filling: Succulent lamb, flavorful Kefta beef, and cold roasted vegetables, with pita rolls serving as burger buns. The meats and patties were very juicy, and paired with dry pita, had great contrast. My favorite slider was the one with beef.
The entrees were just as good as the tapas. A plate of char-grilled shrimp kabab’s arrived at our table. The dish consisted of char-grilled shrimp skewers with spices and a tomato sauce. The moist and succulent shrimp had spices and tomato sauce, and Momen said that cumin was an added spice that was not quite spicy, but added a kick to the kabob’s flavor. We also shared a bowl of Beef Tagine, with chewy braised beef, sweet green peas, mushy carrots, and olives. The beef tasted delicious with the sauce, but after chewing it, the flavor completely left the meat. Moumen explained that it takes 7-8 hours to braise dishes and cook stews! Kous Kous really puts a lot of work into its food, which really makes it a great restaurant.
My favorite dish was the Lamb Chops. The savory lamb was cooked medium, with a rich, seasoned flavor and a tender texture. It was served with some warm herb butter mashed potatoes, which were warm and had a smooth texture in my mouth. If had to pick one entree to recommend, it would be the exceptional Lamb Chops.
I noticed that Chef Moumen is a truly hands-on restaurant owner who enjoys serving and getting to know his customers. He enjoyed sharing stories of how he and his brother started the restaurant business, how he trains and keeps his staff, and how he developed a loyal following for Kous Kous over the years in a challenging environment. He even jokingly introduced the Mona Lisa picture on the wall as his sister Lisa.
Finally, it was time for dessert. I sampled a vanilla bean custard cup, filled with creamy, smooth custard, with crunchy toasted almond slices and dates. The other dessert was a refreshing mix of fruit, including sliced strawberries and oranges, covered in honey.
I give Kous Kous 4.5 starfish, it’s Perrific! The restaurant is an exceptional example of exotic ethnic cuisine, and the great effort put into the food really showed through the excellent taste of the dishes. I noticed that the signature in Moroccan dishes is the interesting flavor blend of sweet and savory, similar to other flavors like sweet-and-spicy and sweet-and-sour in certain Chinese cusine. For those with adventurous palate for interesting ethnic cuisine, Kous Kous is the perfect go-to place for amazing Moroccan food! I can’t wait to visit again…
Copyright 2013 by Perry S. Chen
About Perry Chen:
Perry S. Chen is a 12-year-old award-winning child film critic, artist, animator, TEDx speaker, and entertainment personality, currently in 7th grade from San Diego. He started reviewing movies at age 8 in 3rd grade using a kid-friendly starfish rating system, and has been featured in CBS, NPR, NBC, CNN, CCTV (China Central Television), Variety, Animation Magazine, The Young Icons, The Guardian, The China Press, etc. He was a presenter at the 2010 Annie Awards for Animation, and has written movie reviews for Animation World Network, San Diego Union Tribune, Amazing Kids! Magazine, and his own Perry’s Previews blog.
Perry is currently writing, animating, and directing his most personal film to date, “Changyou’s Journey,” produced by his mom Dr. Zhu Shen, about his beloved father Dr. Changyou Chen, a cancer researcher who passed away in July 2012 from terminal cancer after a long, brave battle, please watch trailer and donate to support Perry’s animation film:
Perry won an “Excellence in Journalism Award” from San Diego Press Club in 2010 and 2011 for his movie and restaurant reviews, an “Excellence Writer Award” from “We Chinese in America” Magazine in 2010 for his movie review column. Perry is widely recognized as an authoritative spokesperson about movies for his generation, and appears frequently at red carpet movie premieres, awards, and film festivals, interviewing prominent directors from such films as Toy Story 3, Up, How to Train Your Dragon. He was a presenter at the 2010 Annie Awards for Animation in Hollywood. Perry and his mom Dr. Zhu Shen are featured in a new book about parenting and youth entrepreneurship, “The Parent’s Guide to Raising CEO Kids,” published in Aug 2011.
Perry’s first animation short “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest,” in collaboration with animation legend Bill Plympton, won multiple film festival awards and has been screened at over 30 international film festivals, now available on iTunes. More info: http://ingridpitt.co.uk
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