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Tanjia vs. El Morocco for East Bay Moroccan Food

katya | Feb 20, 200401:05 PM

After hearing so many positive reviews about Tanjia (a Moroccan restaurant in Oakland) on this board, my boyfriend and I decided to eat there on Valentine's Day. When I called (on two different occasions) I asked if the food and price would be the same as on a usual day ($21.95 on the website), and I was assured it would be the same. However, we discovered when we arrived for dinner that instead there was a Valentine's Day prix fixe of $26.95. There was no change between this menu and the regular menu (unless you count a heart in powdered sugar on top of the bastilla), except that women were presented with a single rose. It's possible that there was a miscommunication on the phone and they thought I was asking if the menu was the same, but I didn't like starting on the wrong foot.

The menu was composed of 5 courses:

Harira - This spicy lentil soup was very tasty.

Assorted Moroccan salads - These consisted of separate bundles of dressed and seasoned carrots and cucumbers, and tomatoes and eggplants which were more of a relish. We liked these quite a bit, and they were served with a dense, toothsome Moroccan bread.

Bastilla - This is where I felt the meal took a downturn. My boyfriend liked the bastilla, but I felt it was lacking compared to bastillas I've had in the past. I didn't feel like the chicken and egg on the inside melded at all with the exterior filo and powdered sugar. I usually like the savory/sweet combination of this dish so it was disappointing.

Entrees - We shared the chicken with honey and prunes dish and the couscous with chicken. The couscous was a bit on the bland side, and the chicken with honey and prunes was one-dimensional. We tired quickly of these dishes.

Dessert - Fried banana, strawberries, and oranges were served drizzled in a floral honey. The honey on the strawberries was a revelation in its simplicity.

The tables were packed way too close together for comfort. Because the tables are arranged in a row on each side of the restaurant, if people at one table are spread out too far from their table in one direction, it creates a domino effect where every other table is spread too far in the vicinity of the table next to them. In our case, since we were the last table in this line, I barely had a seat on the bench at all and my back was against a protruding part of the wall divider. Our servers were very nice oveall and offered to give us one of the larger tables near the door when it opened up, however they forgot to re-seat us once those tables were vacated.

The belly dancer was *amazing*. It's hard to describe but her finale involved her dancing on top of overturned water glasses while balancing a sword (lit on fire on one end) on top of her head. However, I was disappointed that no one else in the audience danced or were encouraged to dance with her (although in past reviews of Tanjia that did happen).

Throughout our meal, my boyfriend and I compared Tanjia to El Morocco, a Moroccan restaurant in Pleasant Hill that we liked immensely. I would say that El Morocco was similar in the soup and salad categories, but had better basilla and entrees. Also, the seating there is more spacious instead of being composed of just two aisles of tables. Although the belly dancing there is not as polished as at Tanjia, we were delighted when the dancer at El Morocco got *everyone* to join her in a dance circling the interior of the restaurant like a Moroccan conga line. I highly recommend El Morocco for a wonderful night of entertainment and Moroccan food.

Previous thread on Tanjia:


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