[Oakland] Moroccan Palace

We ate at Moroccan Palace Sept 13th. It’s good, easily equal to the SF places. But it is strictly traditional, bears no resemblance to Aziza’s updated Cal/Moroccan cuisine.

MP’s menu is the usual limited suspects - which is what sells, especially in the EBay where for some reason, diners who will eat injera with their fingers baulk at doing the same with Moroccan food. The bread rolls are tasty and served warm, not quite as rustic as traditional, nor is there any flatbread. They are served with the eggplant salad.

Only a couple of salads on the menu. We liked the Zaalook salad, roasted eggplant, but it’s palate-fatiguing, with an excess of red bell pepper - and fish is only on Fridays.

Bastilla: A good quantity of shredded chicken, with sautéed onions and a small amount of chopped almonds. There was no scrambled egg mixed in that we could see or taste. The filo was three or four layers thick, which is sufficient to give the needed crisp textural contrast to the filling. This was heavily sprinkled with powdered sugar and Vietnamese cassia on top. Traditionally the squab filling is also flavored with sweet spices, but doing so is best reserved for using true, or Ceylon, cinnamon. Cassia is too hot and aggressive to be used in the filling as well as on top, so it was a good decision to be restrained with it. It’s very good, but Zitouna/SF way back in 2012 made the more traditional version with scrambled egg and Ceylon cinnamon, and it became our Gold Standard compared to everyone else’s version. MP’s is second-tier; but the chicken is tender and not overcooked, the sweet and aromatic flavors well-balanced.

Lamb with prunes was excellent altho you have to ask for a starch of either french fries or couscous (MP may charge for that; we didn’t ask as we didn’t need any). The balance was correctly executed: savory with the edge of sweetness from the prunes and the lovely aroma of honey. Spouse called this the best version he’s had in decades.

Royal Couscous aka Couscous Royale was tasty although it could have used a side of harissa dip. Couscous was rather soggy but had absorbed the meat juices so was pleasing. If they offered merguez as a side I would have ordered another; it isn’t the best merguez but it was good. Tasted similar to the Sonoma Cty Meat Co. brand I get from Good Eggs delivery.

Only desserts are cookies, which is odd and needs to change. Mint tea is very good.

Note that the Royal Couscous would feed two people. It’s very large, as is usual. Contrary to some reader postings on the various reviews, we didn’t think it was overpriced at all, considering the good quality (not greatest, but good) and the obvious care that has gone into their dishes.

We have, over the decades, gotten some slop-a$$ crap in some of the neighborhood Moroccan places. MP is trying to actually do a good job.

But again - no question Aziza was far better (and more expensive!). We went five times in the last 7 years, we felt it was for value the best and most unique restaurant in SF. In 2012 (I believe Maldonado was still in the kitchen) and Melissa Chou doing desserts, we entertained guests to a dinner at Aziza and it was by far the best dinner we had that entire year. Brilliant, phenomenal, creative fusion - and we don’t usually like fusion cooking.

2 Likes

Zitouna doesn’t do it any more? I meant to try it in my last visit a couple of years ago, inquired about it at the end of the meal and recalled they say it would take a while so we skipped.

Glad to hear Moroccan Palace is doing a fine job. Looks like we will be there soon.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold