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How would you like to take yourself to Morocco and take in the taste and scents of an entirely different culture?
We may not be able to travel at the moment, but SO/ Singapore and private caterer Walima have banded together to bring the exotic and evocative thousand years old city of Marrakech to us.
Walima’s very own talented Chef Safia Aboutikab has worked together with SO/ Singapore Executive Culinary Designer Hong DingZhao to bring you a feast to remember, inspired by the Moroccan “diffa”, meaning feast.
Specially created by Safia and hosted by Hong, savour authentic Moroccan cuisine with their intuitive use of spices and herbs. The magic ingredient? Fermentation and preservation of key ingredients in each dish. From sourcing the best preserved plums in Morocco to the slow-braising of the produce and finally presentation of the food, we were informed that every step was checked for quality by Safia.
For someone new to Moroccan dishes, the Marrakech Feast Set (S$78) is a good way to sample the cuisine. The set starts off with an assortment of Moroccan Salad, pictured below. All six starters have their charms.
The Zaalouk (top left) is a roasted eggplant dip, oddly creamy, luscious, which kept me going back for more. Taktouta (top middle) is a tomato and bell pepper puree which went really well with the Khobz, the Moroccan bread. The Foul Mcharmel (top right) is a fava bean salad – Safia's version uses fermented lemon to add a layer of flavour to it. I've never liked beans except in the form of hummus, but this made me reconsider my dislike for beans.
The Moroccan Marinated Olives (bottom left) were marinated in fermented chilli and the tartness married with spice was intense. The Barba Mcharmela (bottom middle) is a beetroot salad, marinated to draw out its sweetness with nary the grassiness beetroot tend to have. As for the green salad, I wish I can steal the recipe for it because it looked so simple but tasted absolutely divine.
If you are there for dinner, as I was, the Harira will be served, which is meat soup with chickpea, lentils and fresh herbs. It was comforting till the very last drop, though it might have benefitted from a tad bit more salt.
There are four different mains to choose from when you get the set: Allahm Bel Barquo (lamb shank with prunes, apricot and nuts couscous), Aldajaj Mqali (chicken thigh with preserved lemon and olive), Alhut Mcharmel (seabass with vegetables) and Tajine Alkhudar (marinated Moroccan vegetables tajine).
I got the first option, the lamb shank. The meat retained its firmness even when it got picked easily off the bones, yet every bite was soft and satisfying. The flavours are predominantly sweet and nutty from the plum, apricot and walnut. It's different from what Singaporeans may be used to in a meat dish as it's less savoury and sweeter, but in all the flavours come together to more plus than minus.
I rounded off the meal with some sweet treats. The traditional Gazelle Horn (S$3) and Pistachio Finger (S$3) is incredibly sweet and chewy with a faint aroma of rose, but my favourite is the Walnut Ghoriba (S$2.50), a delicious nutty way to end the meal.
And of course, how can we feel like we're in Morocco without the quintessential mint tea to wash it all down?
The Marrakech experience will only be around for 15 days until the end of September 2021.
Marrakech SO at Xperience Restaurant
35 Robinson Rd
Lunch seating at 11:30am or 1:15pm daily for $58 per person.
Dinner seating at 6:00pm or 8:00pm daily for $78 per person.