Casablanca native Aziz Nouhi opened Dada Moroccan Restaurant nearly a decade ago on South William Street, its decor and culinary style evoking the riads of Marrakech. With his latest project, Moro Kitchen on Camden Street, Nouhi is focusing on the flavours of the souks of North Africa and the Levant. “I wanted to bring Arabic food that reflected the cool atmosphere of Camden Street,” Nouhi tells me. “Whereas Dada is more for a special occasion, at Moro we’ve dropped the protocol so that we can serve great, accessible food in a funky Arabic surrounding.”
Moro Kitchen has made clever, tasteful use of Morocco’s stunning design heritage, pairing bright Berber colours with polished concrete floors. Our tabletop is made of beautiful pale wood embellished with a subtle mosaic pattern which you might associate with a secluded riad. Nouhi enlisted the skills of Marrakech-based designer Hicham Ibnssina, to bring the aesthetic of modern Marrakech to Camden Street.
The couscous at Moro is light and fluffy, seasoned with caramelised red onions, dried fruit and nuts, making it a sweet accompaniment to the gloriously tender and succulent grilled chicken skewers (€10.95). The chicken is Irish and halal but not free-range. Nouhi hasn’t found an Irish halal free-range supplier and he preferred to use Irish chickens over British halal free-range chickens.
The eggs in the sizzling egg tagine (€7.95) are free-range and are sourced from Moro’s vegetable supplier, Jackie Leonard, a long-standing Dublin supplier. The eggs are baked in the red tagine and continue to cook when they arrive on the table though the yolk remains runny. Both the egg tagine and chicken skewers arrive with homemade sauces, including a harissa yogurt and a coriander pesto known as chermoula.
The hummus (€4.50) is bitter with tahini and a bit pasty in texture. I prefer a creamier, light hummus. By contrast, a plate of labneh (€4.50), a strained yogurt dip, is a little thinner in consistency than I think a really great labneh should be, but I like how it’s laced with the bitter taste of sumac. A side of tabouleh (€5.50) is heavy on the bulgar wheat and light on the herbs, a reminder of how much the food of the Levant differs throughout this culinary rich region. The ownership of hummus and falafel is a contentious one in the Middle East and Mediterranean, and recipes vary.
My husband and I went out on our honeymoon to Marrakech, where incidentally we learned that the Arabic phrase for honeymoon, shahr el’assal, literally translates to “honey month”. While at a cookery class at La Maison Arabe outside Marrakech we learned how to maximise preserved lemons in our cooking, as well as how to make the traditional khobz bread, a puffed pitta delight that stands in for cutlery when mopping up the contents of a tagine.
Back in Dublin, I’ve only ever come across this fantastic bread in Timgad, a small North African grocery shop on the South Circular Road, and it’s something I’d love to see in a place like Moro, as opposed to the grand but generic pitta bread served alongside our mezze. “We’re just settling in,” Nouhi explains when I ask him about the possibility khobz. “We’re excited to see what we can do in the future.”
There is no beer or wine so, just as we did in Morocco, we drink zingy sweetened lemonade made in-house, and pair a couple of small pieces of decent baklava with a pot of mint tea, made with fresh tea leaves, poured ceremoniously at our table. Our bill comes to a total of €42.30. Moro evokes the laid-back cool of modern Marrakech and succeeds in its mission to deliver the flavours of North Africa in an affordable, casual yet chic package.
21 Camden Street
Words Aoife McElwain
Photos Killian Broderick