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No. 54, Dinner at Marrakesh

No. 54, Dinner at Marrakesh
Edwin Goei

Hey, kids: guess what time is it? It's time to restart that Long March known as 100 Favorite Dishes (INSERT YEAR). YEAH!!!

Hey, don't ding us for listicles: Weekly DataLab studies show ustedes love this gimmick, launched in honor of our coming Best Of issue. Besides, it is rather fun to do this for us Forkers--an opportunity to highlight dishes from restaurants we'll never fully review, or secrets from old standbys. Anyhoo, let the march begin...

Dinner at Marrakesh needs to be experienced at least once by anyone who calls themselves an OC native. The best time is during Costa Mesa Restaurant Week, which is, by the way, coming up again soon. There will be deals that will entitle you to a 3-course meal for a discounted price, and most importantly, to eat under the cascading Bedouin tents, to be mesmerized by the shimmying belly dancer, and to lounge around after a filling dinner with a glass of hot, sweetened mint tea served from an ornate, long-necked pot.

If you wanted a more transportive Moroccan experience, you'd need a passport and a caravan of camels.

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It begins with a wash basin brought to your table. The server then pours warm water as you hold your hands out so that you can cleanse your icky fingers before feasting. For starters, you'll have a choice of the hummus, a soup or salad. Then you will choose your entree, and finally a dessert and that mint tea.

The hummus won't be overly acidic as most other hummuses tend to be, but rather tasting of the pure smoothness of chickpea, the paste to be lapped up with pillows of pita as puffy as baseball mitts. The soup you will sip not unlike at Medieval Times--it's served with no spoons, but will be a heck of a lot more complex than the tomato water the dinner tournament cooks.

As one of the entree choices, there will most likely be a leg of chicken roasted with olives, preserved lemon and thinly sliced fried potatoes served in a tagine, those funnel-shaped vessels that look like ceramic bullhorns. The best main course, though, will be the couscous, the fluffiest you'll ever have, with hunks of pumpkin, a skewer of chicken and a lamb sausage that tastes like a spicy cross between a Slim Jim and chorizo.

A flaky, honey-drenched baklava will come last and as you lick your fingers after eating one, your glass will be refilled, over and over, with that intoxicating tea. Sit yourself back, sink slowly into that cushy couch, and yes, tip the belly dancer when she comes shimmying around to your table.

The list:

55. Congee at Capital Seafood 56. Taquito Burrito at Cuca's Mexican Food 57. Clam Chowder at Billy's at the Beach 58. Volcan at Tacos Ruben y Mulitas 59. The Burger at ARC 60. Chocolate Chip Cookie at Crave 61. Lime Curd At Playground 62. Every Damn Thing at Mochi Cream 63. Most Things at Devilicious Donuts 64. Robiola Bosina at Provisions Market 65. Bite-Sized Stinky Tofu at Tofu King 66. Tacos Dorados at Tortas Ahogadas Los Primos 67. Tlacoyo at El Rincon Chilango 68. Whole Pig Roast at Haven Gastropub 69. Chingaderas at Smoqued BBQ 70. The Continuous Ramen Chronicles at The Playground 71. Shrimp & Grits at Slapfish 72. Bacon Cotton Candy at Biggy's Meat Market 73. Urban 3b at Urban Seoul 74. Waffles & Chicken from The Slummin' Gourmet & Waffles de Liege 75. Ahi Tuna Tartar at Nieuport 17 76. Chicken Wings at Hashigo Korean Kitchen 77. Brussels Sprouts Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza 78. Breakfast Sausage Hash at Thasos Greek Island Grille 79. Chocolate Doughnut with Jacobsen Sea Salt at Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee 80. Loco Moco Dog at Dogzilla 81. Fruit Tart at Le Croissant Dore 82. Daing Na Bangus (Marinated Milkfish) Silog Breakfast at Chowking 83. Strawberry Basil Lemonade at Mick's Karma Bar 84. Lemongrass Chicken Salad at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop 85. Tofu Soup at Tasty Thai 86. Take-Out Dim Sum at Capital B.B.Q. and Dim Sum Express 87. Hodo Gwaja at Cocohodo 88. Popcorn Chicken Salad at Guppy House 89. Fried Okra at Memphis Soul Cafe & Bar 90. Salted Egg With Bitter Melon & Scrambled Egg at Tasty Noodle House 91. Boysenberry Lemonade from Bautista Creek Local Produce at SOCO Farmers' Market 92. Scallop Carpaccio with Curry Oil and Yuzu Vinaigrette from Cafe Hiro 93. White Board Specials at Taco Adobe 94. Coney Dog at LinX 95. Halal Pizzas from San Giovanni Pizzas 96. Clayuda at El Fortín 97. Lunch Buffet at Dosa Express 98. The Meats at Darya in Orange 99. Panocha at Taquería Zamora 100. Bean-and-Cheese Burrito from Del Taco

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