Al Zohour - Moroccan (Yes, Moroccan) in Phoenix

Good eating in the Valley of the Sun
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BarbaraToombs
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Location: Chandler/Tempe, Arizona

6 years ago

I've been wanting to get back here since that first time we met there. Must do it again soon!
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Dapuma
Posts: 567
Joined: 7 years ago
Location: Scottsdale

6 years ago

M_L, Mrs D and I went here this weekend

It is as good as everyone says - M_L has the great idea of calling the order in prior to getting there (which I highly recommend) the food takes roughly 30 min or a bit longer to come out, however when it does come out it is fantastic

I cannot really say anything else that has not already been said other than make it a priority to get in here

I think we liked items in this order:
1) Lamb Tangine (Mrs D doesnt even go for lamb much and she loved this one, really great prep and not gamey at all)
2) Kunfka - The dessert thing is amazing, so complex and wonderful, suprised this was a warm dessert did not expect that
3) Bastille: M_L said it was really dense and thought I was crazy to tackle 1/4 of this thing, and he was right, incredibly dense this could feed 8 easily, very good
4) Cod Tangine: Not that this was not excellent - all things considered it did not reach the highs of the other dishes

Looking forward to going back to try the chicken tangine and the couscous dish...along with the lamb tangine again...and the kunfka
Desert Gal
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6 years ago

Considering my abysmal meals over the last few days, I'd have gladly eaten with you all. Loves me my Al Zohour.
M_L
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6 years ago

Last in updating but I would agree with Dapuma it was as good or better than the first time. Except for the cod, I still enjoyed it but it was not as amazing as the last time I had it. But when everything else is so well done it is hard to be bothered by that detail.

Calling your order in is pretty much the only way to go here in my opinion.
misterk
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Joined: 7 years ago

6 years ago

Icecreamchef suggested dinner here when I was in town briefly a few weeks ago. Once I realized which shopping center it was in as I headed over, I started laughing. I used to come here all the time for lunch back in 2006-07 when I worked one exit up the freeway. But I totally forgot about the whole shopping center once my out of state traveling began (there's also Jordanian kabob joint 2 doors down in the same strip mall, and at least back then a halal pizzeria/hookah lounge as well). Fitting, since Phoenix's largest mosque is a block away and the immediate area touts large Bosnian, Iraqi, Somali, and west African populations.

Icecreamchef was none too pleased. "You mean to tell us you knew about Al Zohour all this time and didn't tell anyone?!"

Yes, mental block. So apologies friends. Blame all the cumulative jet lag. :?

That said, definitely a more fancy shmancy restaurant nook than last time ! Food excellent as usual. Oh the b'stillah and kunafeh. Good times.
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

misterk wrote:Icecreamchef was none too pleased. "You mean to tell us you knew about Al Zohour all this time and didn't tell anyone?!"

Yes, mental block. So apologies friends. Blame all the cumulative jet lag. :?
The amount of great stuff you're turned up over the years almost makes up for this.

Almost.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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BarbaraToombs
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Location: Chandler/Tempe, Arizona

6 years ago

So a bunch of us hit up Al Zohour once again for lunch on Friday, and man, it was better than ever. Desert Gal organized this (thank you!) and wisely called ahead to order the food, and it was a great selection.

Started with lentil soup (of which I didn't partake), which everyone said was great. Then moved on to the off-menu Roasted Pepper Salad:
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Roasted pepper salad
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This was fantastic...so full of flavor, light, tangy. Wish I could duplicate this!!!!

Also had the Kashkbadem, which is very Baba Ghanoush-like:
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Kashkbadem
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Roasted eggplant sautéed with garlic and mint...really good stuff here.

Main courses included Chicken Couscous, Lamb Tagine, Cod Tagine, Bastilla (of course!), and a new one for me, Kebssa:
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Kebssa
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This is very generically described on the menu as a Saudi dish with a combination of rice, special spices and meats. It was lamb (fall-off-the-bone tender), and a plate of rice came with that had spices reminiscent of those used in the Bastilla (cinnamon, clove?). Not nuts about the rice, but this lamb was awesome...similar to the Lamb Tagine, but I liked it better. Again, great depth of flavor here.

And that Kunafeh...OH. MY. GOD. Words can't really describe this, and I'm not that big a fan of desserts these days. I could have eaten three of these, it was so frickin good.
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Kunafeh
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All made in-house and made to order...even the creamy cheese inside is made here. So light, so unbelievably good, and a far, far cry from the dessert of the same name I had at Al-Hana once (blech!). Here's a pic of that, just for comparison's sake:
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Al-Hana's Kunafeh
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There's a lot of things I love about Al-Hana, but this wasn't one of them.
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AZLobo
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6 years ago

We went there for dinner last night, and it was delicious, as always. Zhor told me that you guys had been there earlier, and she said that the place was busier than usual at lunch time. The one thing that concerns me sometimes is HOW MUCH Zhor does there - waitress/cook/proprietor of the clothing store. Seriously, she was hemming some pants at one point in the evening! But man does her food rock. We keep introducing people to "Moroccan" and it has been a hit across the board.
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BarbaraToombs
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Location: Chandler/Tempe, Arizona

6 years ago

AZLobo wrote:The one thing that concerns me sometimes is HOW MUCH Zhor does there - waitress/cook/proprietor of the clothing store
Yes, it was busy...which is great for them! But yeah, she kinda does it all, and unfortunately the kunafeh got a little delayed and two of us had to leave before it came out. :(
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AZLobo
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5 years ago

I was here with a group of the PHXFoodNerds yesterday - excellent per usual. I just wanted to highlight two dishes we ordered that I'd not had before:

The first was the meloukhia, served with goat. Meloukhia turns out to be a spinach-like green, which, with a squeeze of lemon and a bite of meat, is absolutely delightful. We had so much food, I have to say that I was pretty full by the time the meloukhia came out, but I really did enjoy it.

Next, I ordered the chevapi - the traditional Bosnian sausage served in homemade bread with onion and ajvar. As far as sausages on buns go, it was outstanding. Very spicy, and the bread was great. I doubt that I'd order it here again, though, as there is so much else on the menu, and ordering a Bosnian sausage at a Moroccan restaurant seems somewhat odd.

Dom took pictures; I'll leave it to him to supplement with his thoughts.
Last edited by AZLobo 5 years ago, edited 3 times in total.
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Skillet Doux
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5 years ago

Indeed, another fabulous lunch. (And another reminder not to come for lunch unless you have time to linger... food comes out when it's good and ready, and it's so completely worth the wait.)
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Kashkbademjan
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The Kashkbademjan seemed a little more aggressively seasoned this time, though it's still fairly mellow, with nuts and lots of olive oil. Warm, pureed eggplant... can't miss here, really.
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Meloukhiya
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I found a little more information under the spelling "Mulukhiyah," and yeah, this is pretty simple stuff. That's the name of the plant, and I thought its most notable feature -- deep green flavor aside -- was the texture, which had a kind of slimy feel similar to okra. I don't mind that one bit, and I loved the flavor, but those who have issues with okra's texture will probably feel similarly about this.
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Goat
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Here's the meat it came with. The menu offers beef or lamb, but azlobo was feeling goat and Zohour was only too happy to oblige. It was very much like the tagines, though a simpler preparation thereof. Fall-apart tender, all of the fat and connective tissue cooked down into delicious, rich goo.
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Chevapi
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Small correction, azlobo -- the sauce she served it with wasn't the ajvar. That's a red-pepper based sauce. The menu offers a choice of "cream or ajvar," and this was presumably the former, very much like tzatziki. I've not had a lot of cevapi (the spelling I see more commonly), but yeah, while no less tasty, this was a bit of an outlier. When I asked if it was the Bosnian sausage, she kind of shrugged and said, "Yes, Moroccan-style." It's more aggressively seasoned than those I've had in the past, and also quite delicious. Incidentally, Caffe Sarajevo (PHXfn thread), just a mile away down Northern, specializes in cevapi, and it's awesome there. I made a few unsuccessful attempts to organize a Foodnik Friday there last summer, but maybe it's time to try again.

Anyway, this place continues to amaze. Easily my favorite "new" (to us) restaurant of 2013.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
Desert Gal
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5 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote:Easily my favorite "new" (to us) restaurant of 2013.
If I only have one vote for FNA status, Al Zohour is it.
M_L
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5 years ago

Nothing new to report but went for an early dinner last night and it was as good as ever. Brought the inlaws and they were bowled over. I think the lentil soup she gives out to start the meal is quickly becoming my favorite item on the menu.
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ScottofStrand
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Location: Mesa, AZ

5 years ago

I missed the last food nerd lunch here, but had to stop by for dinner a couple days after. Nothing new to report, either. Shish Kabob, Bastilla and Kunafa were all on point! Bastilla was even better than last time I had it, and that dessert.. there's really nothing like it.
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phxmacbear
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5 years ago

Finally made it to Al Zohour for dinner!
I could have just had a second serving of Lebne with pita and called it a night! Man, that stuff is amazing. So simple, but her version has the olive oil and dried mint and toasted walnuts and pecans...I'm drooling just thinking about it!

Of course I had to get the bastilla, and I tried the cod tagine. Both were excellent, though I really want to go back and try the couscous with lamb.
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Skillet Doux
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5 years ago

Catching up on some old lunches here... the presentation lunch was a feast of epic proportions. The Shocker: I wasn't the one ordering! I won't rehash the entire feast, but we did get a few off-menu items by Desert Gal's request:
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Vegetable Salad
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The roasted vegetable salad with preserved lemon. Yeah, it's really nice. I think it was mostly tomatoes, roasted peppers, and parsley, with some cumin undertones? Big, tart flavor. Good stuff.
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Offal Kebab
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I admire azlobo's dedication to the quinto quarto. And I have a pretty high tolerance for offal. But I must confess that the two offal dishes pushed a little too far for me. We're not really entirely certain what was here, but it was cooked hard with a lot of char... I just wasn't digging it.
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Offal Stew
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The stew, I thought, worked a lot better, but I have to be honest with myself. I'm just not this funky. Liver, kidneys, hearts -- okay, I'm down. But this was pretty intense. A little taste and I'm good. A big dish like this is a heavy lift for me. I suspect hardcore offal fans would really dig this one, though.

Everything else -- the B'stilla, tagines, couscous, etc. -- were wonderful as always. Another awesome visit.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
M_L
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Joined: 7 years ago

5 years ago

I would be forced to agree I tried both of those and they were pushing it a bit for me. While I like offal to some extent I do not seek it out intentionally. It was easily remedied by everything else we had. And then had again and then still had a ridiculous amount of leftovers.
steve drucker
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5 years ago

Nothing new to add here nor a picture to denote it, just a note of PNA thanks for Al Zohour.

After a long day of travel and meetings, on the way to the hotel last night I picked up supper that was so good it was practically transformative. Excellent hummes, kefta kabob, fresh thin flatbread coated with thinly sliced sauteed onions and zatar, harissa for dessert. This woman is cooking with the type of magic portrayed in 'Chocolat'.

A treasure, and a place were it in Atlanta would be in our twice monthly rotation.
Desert Gal
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10 months ago

Al Zohour has a new menu!
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Skillet Doux
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10 months ago

"ITALIAN BEEF with lettuce, tomato, onion & our special home made sauce"

OMFG, I love Zhor but we are going to have to have a serious talk.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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